WiFi (or Wi-Fi) is the trade name for wireless networking. It’s a very handy way to connect the growing array of devices in your home or office to the internet and to each other.
Most commonly seen in computers, WiFi is now a common feature in TV sets and TV add-ons like DVD players, Roku boxes, Google TV and others. WiFi is also showing up in cameras, printers, telephones, and even some appliances like washers and refrigerators.
WiFi uses radio waves instead of wires to make connections from a few feet up to a hundred yards or so. It is similar to Bluetooth – used for very short distances, inches to a few feet – and mobile wireless “cell” service for longer distances, up to a few miles.
By and large WiFi is easy to set up and use; especially with current name-brand products. Even so, there are some things to watch out for to make sure that you get the best performance possible out of your WiFi system.
1. Put your WiFi router (or access point) near the center of your home or business. This is the broadcast center of your WiFi network, so place it where other devices will have the shortest and least obstructed line between it and the router.
2. Place your WiFi router as high up as possible; off the floor, and out of the basement; away from walls and metal file cabinets if possible.
3. Avoid interference. Keep WiFi devices, especially the WiFi router, away from cordless phones and baby monitors. Also try to stay away from other interference generating appliances like microwave ovens, TVs, computers, and refrigerators.
4. Extend your range with antennas or repeaters. If you have a large area to cover, or if the signal seems weak certain spots, you might want to look into directional antennas and/or “range extenders” (a.k.a. WiFi repeaters).
While not strictly necessary, it can save you some hassle if you use the same brand as your router for repeaters and WiFi adapters.
5. Change the WiFi channel on your router. Most routers come set to channel 6 by default, so if you have nearby neighbors with WiFi, your networks might interfere with or even block each other. If you think that same-channel interference might be a problem, then try changing the channel on your router to channel 1 or to channel 11. (Because of the way that WiFi works, choosing channels 2-5 or 7-10 may not solve the problem.)
Using WiFi to network your place is much easier and less expensive than running cable everywhere, and it’s pretty easy to set up. Of course, I’d be delighted answer questions about it, anytime.
Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy
This article is sponsored by a generous donation from M&S of Pawling. http://www.mandsofpawling.com/