If your Wi-Fi doesn't fully stretch to all the corners of your house it can cause multiple frustrations: Netflix shows that are continually buffering, emails that won't send, video games lost because your internet connection broke down at the crucial time, and so on.
Well, help is available – there are a growing number of gadgets out there to put an end to your Wi-Fi woes and ensure you're always blessed with strong, stable, broadband goodness. Here are some of the best devices you might want to think about investing in.
Replace your router
Let's start with your router, that device at the heart of your home's internet. You might be surprised just what a difference a router upgrade can make, though you should check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) first that a replacement for your supplied router will actually work (if you're really brave, check user forums on the web to see if anyone else has attempted it, rather than asking your ISP directly).These are the very best routers you can buy today
The simplest upgrade is just to buy a router that beams your Wi-Fi out further – extra antennas and the latest Wi-Fi standards can help here. At the time of writing, 802.11ac Wi-Fi or Wireless AC is the fastest, farthest-reaching Wi-Fi you can get, so look for a router that supports it – though a speedier standard is always just around the corner.
Other router features worth looking out for (though not necessarily essential to solving dodgy Wi-Fi problems) are built-in VPN encryption, support for creating a guest network, and an accompanying app you can use to monitor the router's status and configure its settings. If you buy a router with some extra Ethernet ports on it, meanwhile, you have the option of hooking up more of your kit like smart TVs and games consoles with a wired connection, which is always going to beat Wi-Fi in terms of speed and signal stability.
Finally, you might want to consider jumping on the mesh networking bandwagon, where internet is handled by several nodes dotted around your home rather than one central router: see the systems from Google and Eero for examples (it's also the system Sky will install if you sign up for Sky Q). This can often work wonders when it comes to removing Wi-Fi dead spots from around the home, though again you should check with your ISP to make sure such a system will work with your Wi-Fi setup.
Boost your Wi-Fi
If you don't want to replace your router, or you think you might break something along the way, getting a Wi-Fi booster or repeater is a simple and inexpensive hardware upgrade you can think about for your home network. You'll see three terms here, but they're all basically the same tech: booster, repeater and extender.
As the names suggest, these devices take the signal coming from your router, and then give it a boost so it can travel further – like giving someone a leg-up over a wall, but with Wi-Fi signals. Most devices are simple to set up and use, though you might have to reconfigure your gadgets to recognise the second, extended Wi-Fi network.
Not all Wi-Fi extenders are created equal, and some will cause a more noticeable speed drop than others as the wireless signal gets further away from your router box – have a look at a few user reviews for kit you're considering to see what other people's experiences are like. Look for boosters that mention dual band technology, because this means they'll use one band to connect to your router and another to send out the second Wi-Fi signal.
As we've said, the terminology around these devices isn't the most well-defined, and different manufacturers use terms like booster, repeater and extender in different ways. Make sure you read the small print and the product descriptions to make sure you know exactly what you're getting and what your new device will do.
Use your power circuits
The final type of device you might want to consider getting to fix Wi-Fi issues is a powerline networking kit. This will plug into the electrical sockets in your home, which can be adapted to carry data as well as power – essentially, you're providing a wired connection to every room in your house, with one of these plugs connecting directly to your router.
Powerline networking has the same benefits as wired connections from your router: high speeds and great stability. It's definitely a better option than Wi-Fi repeaters, especially if you need a lot of bandwidth in every corner of your house for the purposes of video streaming, online gaming and so on.
Most modern homes should support powerline networking, though some older ones with older electrical wiring won't. Unfortunately there's no easy way to check whether a powerline kit will work in your house other than buying some hardware and giving it a go – maybe make sure you buy something from a store with a simple returns policy to begin with, just to be on the safe side.
There are now a host of powerline networking kits available to buy, which will all do more or less the same job – check the quoted speeds when comparing devices, and of course read the online reviews to see the sorts of experiences people have had with them. It's a good idea to start off with a starter pack of some description, make sure everything is working, then buy extra plugs as needed.