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10 Tips for Improving Your Wireless Network
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You are currently in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
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Sat Oct 13, 2007 2:59 pm Reply and quote this post
If Windows ever notifies you about a weak signal, it probably meansyour connection isn't as fast or as reliable as it could be. Worse, youmight lose your connection entirely in some parts of your home. Ifyou're looking to improve the signal for your wireless network, trysome of these tips for extending your wireless range and improving yourwireless network performance.

Position your wireless router (or wireless access point) in a central location.
Whenpossible, place your wireless router in a central location in yourhome. If your wireless router is against an outside wall of your home,the signal will be weak on the other side of your home. Don't worry ifyou can't move your wireless router, because there are many other waysto improve your connection.

Move the router off the floor and away from walls and metal objects (such as metal file cabinets).
Metal,walls, and floors will interfere with your router's wireless signals.The closer your router is to these obstructions, the more severe theinterference, and the weaker your connection will be.
Replace your router's antenna.
Theantennas supplied with your router are designed to be omni-directional,meaning they broadcast in all directions around the router. If yourrouter is near an outside wall, half of the wireless signals will besent outside your home, and much of your router's power will be wasted.Most routers don't allow you to increase the power output, but you canmake better use of the power. Upgrade to a hi-gain antenna that focusesthe wireless signals only one direction. You can aim the signal in thedirection you need it most.

Replace your computer's wireless network adapter.
Wirelessnetwork signals must be sent both to and from your computer. Sometimes,your router can broadcast strongly enough to reach your computer, butyour computer can't send signals back to your router. To improve this,replace your laptop's PC card-based wireless network adapter with a USB network adapterthat uses an external antenna. In particular, consider the HawkingHi-Gain Wireless USB network adapter, which adds an external, hi-gainantenna to your computer and can significantly improve your range.
Laptops with built-in wireless typically have excellent antennas and don't need to have their network adapters upgraded.
Add a wireless repeater.

Wirelessrepeaters extend your wireless network range without requiring you toadd any wiring. Just place the wireless repeater halfway between yourwireless access point and your computer, and you'll get an instantboost to your wireless signal strength. Check out the wirelessrepeaters from ViewSonic, D-Link, Linksys, and Buffalo Technology.
Change your wireless channel.

Wirelessrouters can broadcast on several different channels, similar to the wayradio stations use different channels. In the United States and Canada,these channels are 1, 6, and 11. Just like you'll sometimes hearinterference on one radio station while another is perfectly clear,sometimes one wireless channel is clearer than others. Try changingyour wireless router's channel through your router's configuration pageto see if your signal strength improves. You don't need to change yourcomputer's configuration, because it'll automatically detect the newchannel.
Reduce wireless interference.
Ifyou have cordless phones or other wireless electronics in your home,your computer might not be able to "hear" your router over the noisefrom the other wireless devices. To quiet the noise, avoid wirelesselectronics that use the 2.4GHz frequency. Instead, look for cordlessphones that use the 5.8GHz or 900MHz frequencies.
Update your firmware or your network adapter driver.
Routermanufacturers regularly make free improvements to their routers.Sometimes, these improvements increase performance. To get the latestfirmware updates for your router, visit your router manufacturer's Website.
Similarly, network adapter vendors occasionally update thesoftware that Windows XP uses to communicate with your network adapter,known as the driver. These updates typically improve performance andreliability. To get the updates, visit Microsoft Update, and then under Select by Type click Hardware, Optional.Install any updates relating to your wireless network adapter. Itwouldn't hurt to install any other updates while you're visitingMicrosoft Update, too.
Note  When you go to MicrosoftUpdate, you have two options: the Express Install for critical andsecurity updates and Custom Install for high priority and optionalupdates. You may find more driver updates when you use Custom Install.
Pick equipment from a single vendor.
Whilea Linksys router will work with a D-Link network adapter, you often getbetter performance if you pick a router and network adapter from thesame vendor. Some vendors offer a performance boost of up to twice theperformance when you choose their hardware: Linksys has theSpeedBooster technology, and D-Link has the 108G enhancement.

Upgrade 802.11b devices to 802.11g.
802.11bis the most common type of wireless network, but 802.11g is about fivetimes faster. 802.11g is backward-compatible with 802.11b, so you canstill use any 802.11b equipment that you have. If you're using 802.11band you're unhappy with the performance, consider replacing your routerand network adapters with 802.11g-compatible equipment. If you'rebuying new equipment, definitely choose 802.11g.
Wirelessnetworks never reach the theoretical bandwidth limits. 802.11b networkstypically get 2-5Mbps. 802.11g is usually in the 13-23Mbps range.Belkin's Pre-N equipment has been measured at 37-42Mbps.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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Sat Oct 13, 2007 3:10 pm Reply and quote this post
Unlock Your Wi-Fi Router's Capabilities with the DD-WRT Firmware

Boost your signal, throttle bandwidth for certain applications, turnyour regular old router into a signal repeater and more by installingthe fabulous Linux-based DD-WRT firmware which unlocks tons ofconfiguration options on your Wi-Fi router. Here's how to upgrade your router with the DD-WRT firmware.
Any good security measures, hacks, tweaks or apps we missed? Tell us about 'em in the comments.

Detect Networks with NetStumbler

The excellent free NetStumblersoftware for Windows will detect all the wireless networks in yourarea, whether or not the SSID is broadcasted, whether or not they'repassworded and how strong the signal is. Great for war-driving orinternet cafe hunting, Mac users should check out MacStumbler.

Enable WPA Encryption
Wi-Fisecurity isn't very secure at all, but if your access point is moresecure than others, evil-doing crackers are more likely to move on. Inthe spirit of "best of what's offered" security, most wireless accesspoints are set to use WEP encryption to password their connections, but WPA(supported on most modern routers and computers) is less easy to crackthan WEP. To switch to WPA, on your access point's administration page,change the security level and set your WPA passphrase to something longand difficult to crack.
Limit MAC addresses

Along the same lines, you can limit exactly what devices can connectto your wireless network by creating a device access list of MACaddresses. (A Media Access Control address is a unique identifier fornetworked devices like laptops, phones, repeaters, etc.) Head on intoyour access point's configuration screen to set what MAC addresses canuse it (like, say, all the computers in your house).

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Sat Oct 13, 2007 3:13 pm Reply and quote this post

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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