As a computer technician with more than 35 years in the business, I have seen many Internet connection problems. That is especially true with WIFI.

The most common problem is establishing a “good” connection between the remote computer and the wireless router. Many people don’t realize that just because they are receiving a signal from their wireless router (AP), they may still not be able to log onto the internet. Here is the problem.

A weak or noisy internet connection is usually caused by lost or scrambled data packets. These corrupted packets are constantly ‘forwarded’ between the router and the receiving computer. This will significantly slow down your connection and could even prevent you from accessing the Internet.

There are several ways to improve these weak WIFI signals. The easiest thing is to move the wireless router. If possible, try to locate your router near the center of the building. I have picked up WIFI signals from distances of up to 1,000 feet when there were no obstacles blocking transmission. On the other hand, it has also been difficult for me to get the signal to go from one end of a house to the other. This can be especially true if the router is located on a different floor than the receiving computer. The more walls and floors the signal passes through, the weaker it becomes.

If you cannot locate the router near the center of the building, there are several other things you can do. First, try moving the receiving computer to a different location. Even turning it in a different direction can help. Laptops often have the WIFI antenna built into the monitor, so you only need to rotate the laptop slightly to improve reception.

In general, I have found that USB Internet adapters work much better than internal receivers in laptops. The reason is … these external adapters come with a three to five foot cable that allows the adapter to be placed in the air and away from obstacles that may be blocking the WIFI signal. Unfortunately this means dragging an additional device which is not what I really want to do. Fortunately, in most cases, your internal WIFI device will do the job just fine.

If you need to communicate with an AP that is hundreds or even thousands of feet away, you will need to investigate adding a high-gain antenna and USB Internet adapter. Actually, it is old technology. Hobbyists have been building high-gain antennas for decades, allowing them to receive signals from all over the world. There are several antenna designs available that virtually anyone can build. For a few dollars, you can greatly increase your reach.

The world record for a WIFI connection using ‘just’ a high gain antenna is 238 miles! You’re probably not planning to challenge any records, but it’s quite common to see people connecting to wireless routers up to a mile or more away, just using DIY antennas.

If you are not satisfied with your wireless internet connection, try some of the things I have mentioned. They should help. If you are still having trouble then I would consider building your own high gain WIFI antenna. It will provide maximum wireless performance. You will find instructions in a book called “FREE Internet” available on Amazon.com.

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