If your internet connection is sluggish or online sites are not loading, the issue might be with your Wi-Fi connection. Maybe you’re too far away from the source, or maybe thick walls are obstructing the signal. Here’s how to determine the strength of your Wi-Fi signal.
Why Wi-Fi Signal Strength Matters
A stronger Wi-Fi signal indicates a more dependable connection. This is what allows you to take maximum use of the internet speeds accessible to you.
Wi-Fi signal strength is affected by a number of factors, including how distant you are from the router, whether you are using a 2.4 or 5GHz connection, and even the materials of the walls around you. The closer you are to the router, the better. While 2.4GHz links can transmit further, they may suffer from interference. Thicker walls constructed of denser materials (such as concrete) will obstruct a Wi-Fi signal. A weaker signal, on the other hand, results in slower speeds, dropouts, and (in certain situations) outright disconnection.
Not every connection problem is a result of weak signal strength. If the internet on your computer or phone seems slow, start by rebooting your router if you have access to it.
Checking Wi-Fi Signal Strength the Easy Way
The first step in determining the strength of your Wi-Fi is to examine the gadget causing the problem. You should have a Wi-Fi connection indication whether you’re using an iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, or Windows PC. The Wi-Fi emblem is often made up of four or five curving lines, with the more filled in, the stronger the connection.
Every phone, tablet, and laptop is unique and may display a different Wi-Fi signal strength. However, it is worthwhile to consult a second, or even third, gadget. If you tested a phone, think about trying a tablet as well. Compare internet performance on both devices and look at the Wi-Fi strength indicators. If your results are similar with both, you have a solid baseline to work from.
If you’ve discovered that your Wi-Fi connection is weak in a certain location, move around and pay attention to the Wi-Fi bars on your smartphone or tablet. Keep track of your distance from the router and the number of barriers between you and it.
Keep an eye on how your Wi-Fi bars rise and fall. It’s a basic check, but it’ll suffice in most circumstances.
The More Advanced (and Precise) Method to Check Wi-Fi Strength
Looking at bars in a symbol tells you just so much. If you want to go deeper into your Wi-power, Fi’s you’ll need to utilize an app or software (such as the AirPort Utility app or Wi-Fi Analyzer) to measure its decibels compared to a milliwatt (dBm).
A Wi-Fi signal may be measured in a variety of ways. Milliwatts (mW) are the most precise measurement, but they are also the most difficult to read due to the amount of decimal places (0.0001 mW). Another alternative is the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI), however Wi-Fi providers handle it inconsistently and with varied scales. Decibels relative to milliwatt (dBm) overcomes these issues, and many manufactures convert RSSI to dBm anyhow, so that measurement will be covered.
The first thing to remember is that dBm readings will appear in negative figures. The scale measures -30 to -90. If you see -30, you have a “excellent connection” and are most likely standing near the Wi-Fi router. However, if you see a Wi-Fi signal listed at -90, the service is generally too weak to connect to. A decent connection is -50 dBm, while -60 dBm is likely adequate for streaming, phone calls, and other tasks.
You may use the Airport Utility App for iPhone and iPad or Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android to measure Wi-Fi signal strength on your phone or tablet. Both are simple to use and provide results for any wireless networks in your vicinity.
The Airport Utility App does need iPhone users to go into their device settings and enable the Wi-Fi scanner. Simply open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad (not the app’s settings), choose Airport Utility from the list, and then toggle on “Wi-Fi Scanner.” Return to the Airport Utility app and begin a scan. RSSI is used to express dBm readings.
Wi-Fi Analyzer makes life easy for Android users. Open the app and search for the discovered networks. Each item will give the intensity in decibels (dBm).
Although the netsh wlan show interface command provides you your signal strength as a percentage, Windows 10 and 11 don’t have a built-in means to examine precise signal strength.
We previously suggested NirSoft’s WifiInfoView for inspecting Wi-Fi channels, and it also gets the thumbs up for determining Wi-Fi strength. The application is completely free, simple to use, and does not require installation. Simply unzip the file and double-click the EXE file. dBm measures are listed beneath the RSSI item, same like on a Mac or iPhone.
If you want to measure the linked network on a Mac, you don’t need to download any software or apps. While holding down the option key, click on the Wi-Fi sign. The RSSI item contains dBm readings.
How to Improve Wi-Fi Signal Strength
You’ll have a better sense of what to do to strengthen your network once you know how powerful it is. For example, if you can reach the outside of your house and still see a 60 dBm signal (or most of the bars), any problems you’re experiencing aren’t due to Wi-Fi strength. If your existing router does not handle 5 GHz (or even 6 GHz), check for interference and try changing channels.
If you move a room or two away from the router and soon lose signal, it’s time to think about the age and location of your router. Your walls are either incredibly thick and solid, or your router is ancient and incapable of broadcasting very far. Consider relocating the router as near to the middle of the house as feasible if you have plaster walls.
If your router is outdated, it may be time to replace it. Look for one that can receive both 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi transmissions. The 5 GHz signal does not go as far as the 2.4 GHz signal, but it offers more alternatives for avoiding interference.
If you have a large house, you should think about getting a mesh router. They are a simple solution to improve the Wi-Fi signal across your house and contain useful features like as automatic firmware upgrades and guest networks. Most individuals don’t require a mesh network, and there are cheaper routers that also provide firmware updates and guest networks.
If you’re not sure if you need a mesh router, consider producing a Wi-Fi heatmap of your home. Heatmaps are an excellent method to visually assess where your wifi is strongest and weakest. You design the plan of your house, then walk around while the application assesses the Wi-Fi strength. It then colors in your map to give you a basic notion of Wi-Fi signal strength throughout. If you’re in the middle of your house and the heatmap displays poor signals everywhere, it could be time for a mesh router.
home. However, by attempting each of these approaches, you will be able to obtain the most accurate information and make an informed decision on what to do next.