This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
A slow home internet connection can make even the simplest Google search super frustrating. If you find that your Wi-Fi is always unstable, no matter what internet service provider you have or how many devices are connected, what do you do? Sometimes having your router professionally installed might not even solve the immense problem of a slow, weak internet connection. That’s a massive headache if you work from home, if you’re trying to install smart home gadgets, or if you just want to unwind with some Netflix at the end of the day.
The good news is there’s an easy way to optimize your Wi-Fi network and address these issues — and it’ll only take you a few minutes.
There are a lot of factors that determine internet speeds and while there are a few tricks or guidelines you can follow to improve the overall wireless speeds and coverage in your home, one of the most crucial factors is the location of your router. And the best place is not always where the technician set it up. So keep reading to learn about the best place in your home for your router and other tricks for faster Wi-Fi. You can also check out our picks for the best Wi-Fi routers, the best mesh routers and the best Wi-Fi extenders. (And if you have a mesh router, make sure you check out our guide for where and how to set that up the right way, too.)
Choose the right router for your space
First things first: It all starts with choosing the right router or other equipment. Not all routers are the same and the size and layout of your home will determine what type of wireless network you need.
For most apartments and smaller homes (under 1,500 square feet), a single wireless access point should suffice. That said, if your router is several years old, you may want to consider upgrading to a newer model with support for 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6. That’s the latest generation of Wi-Fi technology, and it’ll give you the fastest wireless speeds possible and the best overall coverage.
For bigger, multilevel homes, it’s worth considering making the upgrade to a mesh network to offer consistent coverage throughout the entire house. Once the main access point is installed, if you find a far corner of your home doesn’t have solid wireless coverage, just add another node to that area. Problem solved.
To learn more, check out our list of the best mesh routers of the year (our top pick is the TP-Link Deco W7200) and if you’re not sure where to begin in choosing your next router, consult our router buying guide.