Rubbish Wi-Fi is up there with stepping on a plug or burning a pizza in terms of the worst things that can happen to you at home.
Truly, few gadgets are as vital as the humble and oft-forgotten wireless router. But how often do we take the time to make sure we’re getting the most of it?
So, whether your YouTube videos are constantly buffering or you can’t access the internet from a certain bedroom (maybe you, ahem, have work to do in bed; we won't judge you), we’re here to tell you there’s a better way.
Simply follow these tips and tricks to supercharge your broadband and enjoy a stress-free home life. Well, until you next step on a plug at least.
Home broadband tip #1 - Get your positioning right
Because most home internet comes in via a phone line or alongside a TV service, many people just plug their wireless router next to their cordless phone or TV. But like any connected device, a router needs to be situated away from obstructions and other wireless gadgets in order to maximise performance.
The one thing that’s likely limiting your ability to move your router is the length of the cable coming out of the wall, but you can fix this easily and cheaply.
For cable subscribers, you’ll need something like an satellite coaxial extension cable. For those with phone line-based broadband, try something like this ADSL cable (RM20).
Once your router isn’t quite so restrictively tethered, move it away from anything that could block its wireless capabilities. Find somewhere central to your home, preferably high up, away from thick walls, and where possible, visible to the area where you use your wireless devices the most.
An ideal spot for your router is on top of a bookshelf in your living room. You’re trying to avoid thick concrete or steel obstructions and other electronic devices, particularly microwaves and cordless telephones.
Home broadband tip #2 - Go wired, not wireless
It might not sound obvious in the age of wireless-enabled convenience, but if you want faster, more dependable internet access, don’t use wireless at all.
Wired connectivity is still faster, more dependable and lag-free than any wireless technology currently available. Going wired makes more sense for static devices that are in the same room as your router, but your mobile devices will also benefit from the reduced stress being put on the overall wireless bandwidth of the router.
Most standard routers come with four wired ethernet ports which can be used to connect your wired devices. The further your router is away from your devices, the more you’ll have to spend on cabling, as longer ethernet cables are more expensive than shorter ones.
Now, if you're anything like us you probably have a lot of devices in one place - TV, games console, music streamer, Roku or similar and so on. In which case you might want to invest in an ethernet switch such as this Netgear GS205 (RM112). That way, you can have one long cable going between the router and the switch (this 5m Cat6 cable (RM29) is flat so it can go along skirting board or under carpet), and then shorter ones between the switch and your devices.
However, also check your boxes for ethernet cables - Sonos products all come with them, for example.