How to Check Your WiFi Signal Strength
It’s a common problem — your internet slows to a crawl, making it impossible to get anything done. While, sometimes, slow internet speed may be a computer issue, it’s more likely the result of poor WiFi signal strength. If that’s the case, it’s time to start troubleshooting — chances are you can get your connection back up and running. If not, we can help.
Why You Need a Strong Signal
Having a strong WiFi signal ensures you’re getting a constant connection feed — in other words, that you’re getting the most speed possible through your provider.
Many factors play a role in this, including the type of router you have as well as what your carrier provides. Having a 2.4 or a 5ghz connection makes a big difference, too. Sometimes, it's the things you don’t think about causing a breakdown of your connection, such as having thick walls between your computer and the router.
A weak signal can cause:
- Timeouts in anything you’re watching live
- Slower speeds for moving from page-to-page online
- Dropouts on videos or connections
- Difficulties in streaming content
- Total disconnections in some cases
If you’re experiencing any of these holdups, check your WiFi signal before you put the blame on your carrier or your equipment. The good news: these issues are often much easier and much faster to resolve.
Check Your WiFi Signal Strength Per Device and Location
To check WiFi signal strength, start with the device that’s having trouble connecting. Stay where you generally encounter problems — a certain spot in your home or office, for example.
Once there with your device, look for the WiFi connectivity indicator — it’s usually on the screen with four or five curved lines. The more lines that are lit up, the stronger the signal at that moment, in that location.
If possible, test another device — a second smartphone, for example, or a laptop. Use that second device to check the signal simultaneously. If they aren’t both showing the same number of bars, you could have a device-related problem. If both devices are having connectivity issues, walk around your space with one and see if bars increase or decrease. This is a basic level of WiFi connectivity testing but it can give good insights into where the challenge lies.
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Measure WiFi Signal Strength
There are a number of tools that can help measure your WiFi strength. Ideally, determine decibels relative to the milliwatt of signal strength. This is the most precise measurement, but it’s hard to do. Many people use a Received Signal Strength Indicator which, though easy to use, can be somewhat inconsistent.
To measure decibels to milliwatts, the more straightforward option, follow these steps:
- Know what to look for. The perfect connection is -30, which means you’re standing near the router. It can range from -30 to -90. A signal at -90 means you’re unable to connect. It’s best to aim for -50 to -60.
- Download an app like Airport Utility App to analyze the connectivity. Follow the instructions on the app to help you. Most run a scan and then produce the reading for you to compare.
- Move throughout your home. Look for areas where the level of signal drops.
Other options for running this test include Wi-Fi Analyzer, which is a good option for Android users. For a free option, try NirSoft’s WifiInfoView.
That said, if you are far from the router, it’s unlikely that router is the issue. It could mean you need to improve the signal strength in those areas. A mesh router can help to extend your WiFI coverage in areas where the home is larger.
If you are just a few feet from the router and the signal speed is low, that could mean the router needs replacement.
What to Do If Your Strength Isn’t Ideal?
If your readings are less than -60, it’s time for some upgrades. Our expert team at WorldTech can help — get in touch to learn more.
There’s no simple solution. It’s essential to learn where the signal loss is and then determine why. Once you do that, it’s possible to expand and improve WiFi coverage in most areas. Give WorldTech a call to learn more and get back online fast.
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