A slow Wi-Fi connection can be endlessly frustrating.

Whether you want to check your email, watch a movie, or play games, you need a fast connection. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi often falls short. While new wireless standards are capable of delivering data at a rate of 866.7 Mb/s (megabits per second), wired Ethernet connections can provide a blazing 1 Gb/s (gigabits per second).

image
Wired

For most people, 866.7 Mb/s is plenty, provided that the connection speed is consistent. Wi-Fi speeds vary, however, due to a number of factors—including your neighbors.

To be clear, your neighbors probably aren’t stealing access to your home Wi-Fi.

Your home Wi-Fi uses one of several channels, and those channels allow you to maintain a consistent, fast connection. Your neighbors’ Wi-Fi probably isn’t on the exact same channel, since the router would switch over to another automatically. However, if you’ve got an older router, this is a distinct possibility.

Even if you’ve got a newer router, your router’s channel selection might not be optimal. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to check.

image
Google Play

If you’re on a PC or an Android phone, you’ll need to look for a Wi-Fi analyzer. There are dozens of free options, so we won’t recommend one in particular; they all do the same thing. Run the program, and you’ll get a breakdown of the different available channels. You should be able to see any points of congestion caused by your lovely neighbors.

If you’re on a Mac, the process is even easier.

Hold down “Option,” then click the Wi-Fi symbol in your menu bar. Click “Open Wireless Diagnostics,” then go to the “Window” tab on your menu bar.

Click “Scan,” then “Scan Now.” This will show you a breakdown of Wi-Fi channels accessible to your network. On the left side of the screen, you’ll also see channel suggestions for 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz Wi-Fi.

image
Urbo

Once you’ve determined which channel you want to use, log onto your router and change the channel settings. The process varies depending on the type of router you have, and because this can mess with your connection, you’ll definitely want to change the router settings from a computer with a wired connection.

image
iStock

Remember, if you’re uncomfortable with this process, call a professional; you don’t want to accidentally change a setting and end up without Wi-Fi access.

If that doesn’t improve your Wi-Fi, we’ve got a few other suggestions.

First, make sure your Wi-Fi router is as close as possible to the center of your home. This might mean running a few cords, but it’s worth the hassle since devices will have an easier time connecting if they’re physically close to the router.

Make sure that one of the router’s antennae is pointed vertical and one is horizontal. This should help devices connect, although you can always pick up an inexpensive range extender if you’re still having problems.

image
Digital Trends

If all else fails, you may want to upgrade your router. Look for a device with 802.11ac capability, as that’s the latest standard (although you may want to double-check that through a quick Google search if you’re reading this in 2020 or later).