With the constant appearance of WiFi related threads, I think it is time to make a nice little checklist style of thread that people can find readily and refer to when needed.
With WiFi connections nowadays, there are many issues and challenges, but by far the most common are related to poor WiFi signal (range, performance etc) and drop outs of reception and generally unstable connections. There are others, but looking back over a heap of threads, these were the most common.
These challenges are accentuated by the use of 2.4GhZ portable phones and the likelihood that your home is surrounded by other people ALSO seeking a great WiFi experience...talk about a wall of potential barriers!So, a few points on the use of WiFi with various Windows OS’s:
**note that the following is my own opinion and is based on a few years of WiFi tweaking**1./
Windows XP 32bit – this always provided me with the smoothest WiFi experience due to its efficient utility and its willingness to ‘play nice’ with 3rd party utilities in general – a real no-fuss OS. Always happy to stay connected and provide me with rock solid performance. Some of this performance MAY be due to the age of the OS and the fact that there are WAY more people using WiFi today than when XP was released – the jury is still out there.2./
Windows Vista 32bit/64bit – the biggest nightmare I have ever had to contend with regarding WiFi connections and reliability. It tries to seek out a better WiFi connection every 60 seconds even though you are not walking the streets with your laptop open; it does not like to relinquish its control over your WiFi connection and rarely plays well with 3rd party utilities. Yuk. (It does still work OK most of the time, but it is difficult to improve if you have an issue).3./
Windows 7 32bit/64bit – the joys of XP with the prettiness of Vista. Thank you Microsoft!! This OS seems to be pretty happy to adapt to any hardware that was purchased less than a year before the OS, and also provides us with a great onboard utility to control your WiFi networks. Updating hardware drivers is really the most difficult thing I have had to do in the case of this OS (fanboi – you bet, and for good reason).
OK, now to the tuning and setup part of the guide.....Some points to think about in order to achieve the best WiFi performance:1./
make sure you have an adequate and up to date adaptor with drivers matched to your OS. This is so often overlooked and is a major cause of dramas.2./
A modern WiFi router – i.e. don’t expect fantastic performance out of a 4 year old WiFi router that uses older technology. It may work, but we can always make it better with a newer model.3./
A later model modem can make a massive difference too because it provides the potential for your entire network. (Garbage in – garbage out) For WiFi novices, consider a dual purpose unit – a modem/ router all-in-one. These are very convenient to use and to setup. The experts may prefer to have an up to date modem with a super performance gaming router as a separate unit. Both choices work fine, but still have to be setup and tuned the same way. (I saw a new modem increase reception range by 20 metres and the download speed went from 40k to 4000k immediately – it all helps.)4./
Minimise the physical barriers between all of the user’s PCs and laptops by locating the router in a central position if possible. INTERFERENCE:
Remember the electronic barriers too - Microwaves are the worst, bluetooth, cordless phones, AV senders, wireless security cameras, some (older) wireless keyboards/mice, some remote controlled toys can inhibit or distort your signal quality.
Also be wary of portable HDDs near the router. Signal blockages or signal improvements can occur with these units...make sure it is causing the latter, and not the former! For desktop PC's, the case itself is not WiFi friendly. I have heard of incidents where ISP techs have asked a customer to rotate their desktop case 90 degrees where an immediate improvement in signal strength was experienced.5./
Ensure that you have the appropriate antennae fitted to both ends of your setup. i.e. don’t expect a stock antenna to perform perfectly through many brick walls and up a level if you live in a multi storey home. Look for alternative types – they are pretty cheap and can make a big difference.6./
Make sure your router is set to the correct type of WiFi for your situation.
802.11b is old, old old, so unless you have an ancient Palm Pilot or something, don't bother with it. (as a guide, if your router still has the option to select b only, it is too old to perform really well)
802.11g (or b & g) is by far the most common and gives great range and connection quality.
802.11n is the latest and greatest and provides some impressive performance as well as awesome range - when tuned correctly!7./
Be prepared to fine tune your gear to suit your environment: antenna type and placement, channel selection, encryption type to suit your home etc.
Now that you have all the right gear installed, updated and configured and you have a signal, it is time to do the most important thing of all.....pick a channel. Look at your WiFi utility and see how many other neighbours signals are present...you will be surprised! They all have routers that are competing for air space!Tuning the channel means that you are going to select the transmission channel for your router that provides YOU with the best range and performance possible.
way to find the best channel for your network is to be methodical and go through each and every channel and record the results on each computer you have accessing your WiFi. It really is SO important to test each channel.
e.g. on my gaming rig, the best two channels are 3 and 13. I can’t use 13 because my old T5 Palm Pilot can’t read channel 13, so I therefore have my best channel set as Ch3. EASY...DOWNLOAD AND USE THE CHANNEL PLANNER CHART I HAVE MADE AND POSTED HERE..you have no excuses now!!
Before you go messing with the channels, it is a good idea to use a laptop or PC that is connected to the router via a network cable. If none of them are connected via cable, you should grab the network cable from the router box and connect it to one of the computers (preferably the closest one, or a laptop that you can test later with your new channel)....this will prevent any dramas when you change channels and lose the connection.
Go into your Router’s GUI* and find the WiFi channel settings. Starting with channel 1, test the reception performance of each channel on each PC in turn and record the results on the printed sheet above, and don’t forget to ‘Apply’ the settings between tests.
DO NOT MISS A CHANNEL! The results are sometimes unpredictable and the channel you miss could be the one you really needed!
* the web based interface usually found by typing 192.168.0.1 or 10.1.1.1 etc into your web browser – check your router’s instructions for this, or see below for the list of Router default gateway I.P. addresses.
Now, look at the results and go back and set the router to the best channel. I would suggest that you try that channel out for a week or so to make sure it really is the best for your environment. If you have any issues, just try the next best channel and so on.
It is also a good idea to run an ADSL speedtest on the connection at all computers just to make sure you are getting the best in reception AND download performance.
Good luck fellow WiFi user, and remember to post in the Tech Forums if you have any other WiFi issues as there are a lot of us there who will be happy to help you out.If you need assistance, remember to post the following info that we need to diagnose the problem:
(cut and paste this small section into your thread)
What sort of PC are you using? (desktop PC or laptop)
What distance is the machine from the router?
List the walls between you and the router.
What channel are you using?
What adapter are you using (usb, pci etc – incl. Model number and brand)
What is the model of your router?
What is the model of your modem?
What antenna are you using on the router and adaptor?
A final point: if you update an adaptor, modem, router or your antenna, it is important that you re-tune your channel again. It takes a little time, but it is well worth every minute spent!
All the best, and I hope this guide has been a help to you.
PS: I just know I have forgotten some other really good points that have been posted in other threads, so if you have anything that you think would be worth adding to this guide, please post it up and I will edit the OP. My intention here is to help as many people as possible by simplifying and broadening their WiFi experience. Rec0nRouter default gateway I.P. addresses - by brand:
(or, what you type into a web browser so you can access all of your router's settings and features listed in the above guide)Billion: