20 Things to Know About WiFi Boosters and Extenders
How Do I Boost My WiFi Signal?
There are several ways to boost your WiFi signal. From placing your router in a different area of your house, to adding an antenna, to adding a whole new device, there are several options to consider. The first thing to try is checking on the placement of your router, as this is a key in getting a strong WiFi signal. Find out which direction the strongest signal is coming from and place the router in that area of your house. Building materials also play a big part in determining signal. If your router is in the kitchen and your office is in the concrete basement, those walls will impede the signal.
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The second option is to look at your equipment and make sure it is built for your needs. New technologies come on the market all the time and if your router or antennas are older, you might want to check out what’s new. All routers are not the same and some cannot handle the amount of signal you might need. Check the settings on your router and internet to make sure they are optimized. Rebooting your system clears information from the memory and gives it a fresh start. Also, check out your antenna and see if it is optimal for your desired signal and consider an upgrade to be able to receive more bandwidth from the provider.
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A third option is to check out a booster or extender. Each of these devices takes your existing signal and manipulates it for a different purpose. The extender will rebroadcast the signal to dead areas of your home. The booster can amplify the signal up to 32 times its strength. Depending on your needs, one of these can make a big difference.
What is a WiFi Booster?
If you have a weak signal coming into your home or business that could use some improvement, a WiFi Booster plugged into a power source can amplify that signal to make it more useful. Its function is to take the signal received through your router, and actually creates a stronger one that can be broadcast to a nearby area. You will be able to work in more areas of your house with a stronger connection. It will allow more members of your household to enjoy the signal as well.
Do WiFi Boosters Actually Work?
Yes! As long as you have a signal coming into your home, the booster will amplify that signal up to 32 times. Many things block and weaken signals in your home - walls, furniture, appliances - a booster creates a stronger signal that will transmit through or around obstacles. WiFi boosters allow you to work in areas of your house, building or yard that have dead spots or are farther away from the router.
How Does a WiFi Booster Work?
WiFi boosters work by capturing a signal already received from a device such as a router or hotspot and boosting or amplifying that signal to a wide area. The booster broadcasts the signal often through a larger, more powerful antenna as an additional wireless signal. Booster signals are generally stronger and more reliable than that just broadcast from your regular router. The booster is plugged into a power source in an optimal area of your home. The booster collects the signal from the router. You then log into the booster from your device with a password and you are ready to go. When doing your homework on which booster to purchase, choose one that covers the square footage you need and is adequate for your signal strength. Then choose an area of your home that captures and broadcasts signals well and plug it in.
Are WiFi Boosters Secure?
A wireless connection does create some vulnerabilities to your network. Just like routers and your home computer, keeping up on the latest security software is important. Hackers are continually working to steal your information. Upgrading software when it becomes available will keep you up to date on protections. Some boosters have extra security features built in. Choose a secure password and username. Boosters do have one thing going for them. As the signal travels farther from the booster, it tends to get weaker. Boosters are designed to cover a limited area. So, unless the hacker is really close to your house, boosters will not add any more security risk than you already have.
Can WiFi Boosters Be Hacked?
Where there’s a connection and your data, there’s a hacker that probably wants to get into it. WiFi has some vulnerabilities just like your wired devices do. There are settings on your router to check and updates from your software and hardware vendors that can keep you protected. Register your device with the vendor after purchase and they will send you any patches, upgrades or recommendations for enhanced protection.
There is more you can do. For example, using a private VPN or making sure your firewall is set up will add extra protection. Check out the security settings on each and every device using the booster. Choose a WiFi password that is not easy to guess and change that password periodically. With a little forethought, you can have a secure network in your home.
How Do I Set Up a WiFi Booster?
WiFi Boosters come with different components depending on the model you get. Simple WiFi boosters plug into a power source in your home. Choose an area of your home that has a strong signal and is able to broadcast to the dead zones of your home. Find the area of your home where the signal becomes very weak and where the signal from the router comes into your home, and place the booster about halfway between those two spots. Turn on the WiFi settings on your device, type in the password and you are connected.
Do WiFi Boosters Work With Hotspots?
A hotspot captures the signal from your nearest cell phone tower and converts it to WiFi, which you can then use to connect your devices. This can either be a specific mobile hotspot device or your cell phone can act as a mobile hotspot. Unless you have a fantastic signal coming from the tower, this signal could be rough. WiFi boosters extend the coverage or range of WiFi hotspots. A hotspot cell signal booster will amplify the signal coming into your hotspot and allow your hotspot to work more efficiently. It’s a good option for reaching areas of your home that the hotspot does not adequately cover.
Are WiFi Boosters Good For Gaming?
Boosters amplify your existing signal produced by your router. This gives you access to faster and more reliable speeds. Since online video games require decent upload and download speeds, amplifying the signal can significantly reduce a player's ping. Ping is important in some real time, multiplayer games as it is the time it takes data to be sent out and return a response. The lower the ping time (or lag in the computer’s response), the better the gaming experience. Things to look for in a WiFi booster designed for gaming are the speed of the fast ethernet ports, the wireless speeds, the antenna design and the ability to handle more than one device. Depending on your gaming needs, a WiFi booster can make a big difference.
Do WiFi Booster Apps Really Work?
Booster apps claim to combine signals and boost your connection with the tap of a button. They might increase the performance of your device by clearing some files and making it run more efficient, but they can’t take a signal that is not there and make it stronger. They have some good features that can direct you to the direction of the nearest cell tower. That may make a difference in how strong a signal you can capture, but the general consensus is that they are not helpful for much else. The good news is that there are plenty of free apps out there and if you download one and it doesn’t work, you’ve only wasted a little bit of time, you might have some other useful features and you’ve learned a little bit more about signals in the process.
Do WiFi Boosters Increase Internet Speed?
WiFi boosters do not actually increase internet speed, as the signal that comes from the tower is at a certain provided speed. But, if your provider says that you are being provided 25 Mbps, this is the optimal speed under great circumstances. It’s a good idea to do a speed test to see what you are actually receiving. Depending on weather, obstacles in the way or number of users on the network, you might not be able to achieve that particular speed all the time.
With a WiFi booster, the signal is amplified and used more efficiently, so it will seem like you have a higher speed. There are some other things you can do to seem like you have more internet speed in addition to your booster. Signals are strongest near the booster or router, so the closer you are, the stronger the signal. The direction your device is pointed matters quite a bit as well. With or without a booster, determine where the cell phone tower is and point your devices in that direction. The number of users or devices using the booster can make a difference as well as you are all sharing that same signal. WiFi boosters definitely help make your connection more efficient.
What is a WiFi Extender?
A WiFi extender is a device that takes the wireless signal from your router and repeats it to a further area. This extends where you are able to receive the signal. Extenders have been compared to a bridge. The existing signal is broadcast to areas of your house where they may have been blocked by a wall, or furniture.
How Do WiFi Extenders Work?
A WiFi extender rebroadcasts the signal that you receive into your home. WiFi signals sometimes have a hard time going around corners, through walls or to another floor of your house. A strategically placed WiFi extender between your WiFi router and the dead zone in your house will allow you to use the internet where you want.
Can You Turn Your Phone Into a WiFi Extender?
Yes you can! There is a Mobile Hotspot option on most smartphones, which allows other devices to use it’s signal, effectively turning your phone into a WiFi extender. If I enable the mobile hotspot on my cell phone, I can turn on the WiFi function on my laptop and use that to do some research on the internet. The speed is variable and depends on the speed you are receiving on your smartphone. It does not act as a booster, but will have the functions of any WiFi extender.
What’s the Difference Between a WiFi Booster and Extender?
A WiFi extender will take your existing signal and rebroadcast it to a farther distance. A WiFi booster will take your existing signal and amplify it or enable a stronger signal. Either one of these devices will solve concerns with signal strength into dead zones in your home or yard. The booster just gives it a little extra oomph!
Do I Need a WiFi Booster or Extender?
Are there areas of your home that you don’t have a strong cell signal? If you have a signal, but it’s weak, a WiFi booster will be just what you need. If you have good WiFi in the office and a dead zone in the basement, a strategically placed extender will allow you to use a device down there as well. Everyone has different needs when it comes to signal strength. Look at your house and where you perform activities that require the internet. Each of these devices has its pros and cons.
What is the Difference Between a Cellular Booster and WiFi Booster?
A cell phone signal booster takes the signal that comes into your home and amplifies it or gives it a boost. The WiFi booster can boost any other signals. There are many ways to receive internet into your home - broadband, DSL, fiber and of course cell phone signals. If you have a router hooked up in your system and DSL internet, a WiFi booster strategically placed halfway between the router and the dead zone of your house will boost signal to that area.
A cellular signal booster works with the wireless signal that your cell phone or jetpak uses and boosts that signal to be more reliable. The cell booster requires an antenna placed on the outside of your home, a device inside that captures those signals and boosts them into your home and cables that connect those components. A WiFi booster is normally just a device plugged into your wall that captures the signal from your router and broadcasts it to other areas of your home. Either one of these devices have the potential to enhance your signal strength and internet experience.
Would a WiFi Booster boost Cellular Signals?
No, they use different frequencies. Signal boosters take the specific signal frequencies and amplify them, which in turn provides a stronger signal for your WiFi or cellular device to capture. If you switch your smartphone to capture WiFi signals from your booster, your signal will definitely see some improvement.
Is There a Booster that Boosts Both WiFi and Cellular Signal?
Unfortunately, no. The signal frequencies for WiFi and cellular are so different that there are no antennas currently on the market capable of boosting both. In addition, WiFi boosters are designed to be placed indoors, whereas cellular boosters need an outdoor cellular antenna in order to capture existing signal.
Cell boosters have an antenna to mount somewhere on the outside of your home. It is important to point this antenna in the direction of the strongest signal. If you are installing this equipment yourself, download an app on your phone such as Open Signal to find out where your nearest cell phone tower is.
Can I Use the Same Antennas on a WiFi Booster and Cell Signal Booster?
WiFi and cellular devices use different frequencies to capture and transmit signals.
WiFi antennas use 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequencies. When purchasing an antenna, look for a USB 3.0 port that can operate at speeds as high as 5 Gbps. Look for a signal type of 802.11ac as this will handle the 5 GHz frequency and keep the data stream more direct to your device. The antenna dBi rating should be 5dBi to pick up weaker signals from farther away. If you have an antenna rated 2 dBi and a stronger signal, connections can be maintained longer. WiFi antennas can be directional, semi-directional, or omni-directional, and which one you choose depends on your particular situation.
Cellular devices use frequencies between 800 MHz and 2100 MHz. Cell signal boosters use either omni-directional or uni-directional (or “yagi”) antennas depending on where you live and how you are capturing the signal. Normally, directional antennas are recommended for the strongest signal. Cell booster systems require another antenna inside your home. These are called dome and panel. The dome antenna is for a large room, and the panel antenna covers a smaller room or area.
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