Will a New Router Help?

Folks often ask if a new router will speed up their computers. Sorry to say it, but there’s no direct answer to this question, other than, “it depends, but probably not.” The peppiness of your computer depends, first and foremost, on the computer itself. Lots of things can make a computer seem sluggish. Have you checked it for malware lately? Is it old and/or generally under-powered for current demands? On the other hand, a slow WiFi connection can make an otherwise fast computer seem slow when you’re trying to use the Internet. It’s possible that a different WiFi router can make a difference – or possibly just rearranging your WiFi setup. If you suspect your WiFi connection is going slow, the first thing to do is reboot your router. You can do that very easily by turning it off – or disconnecting the power – waiting 10 or 15 seconds, and then turning it back on. Wait a minute or so for it to reboot itself and settle its connection to the Internet, and then try your service again. It’s not unusual to need to reboot a router every three or four weeks. If things seem slow, reboot the router. Afterward, if things are still slow, notice the signal strength for your WiFi. The WiFi icon will show you a number of bars to indicate the relative signal strength. One bar is weak, but two or more bars is usually enough to make a usable connection but, of course, three or more is better. If you always show only one or two bars in the WiFi icon, then, indeed, you might need to adjust your WiFi setup. Before you buy a new router, check a few things in your setup. Is the router near the center of your home or office? It should be as close the center as possible. If it can’t be in the center, but the WiFi signal is great when you’re near it, then you may need to “extend” the signal into distant parts of your house. There are several ways to do this, including some that are fairly inexpensive. If you have several WiFi devices in your space, then you need a router that can keep up with the demand. It doesn’t have to be super high-performance, but it needs to be able to deal with the load. Routers have ratings for the amount of traffic that they can handle. A faster router won’t help a slow computer, but a well-placed, freshly rebooted router can make your WiFi experience more satisfying. Hoping, as always, that this is all quite clear and useful; nevertheless if I can fill in some details or help with anything on your computers, please don’t hesitate to call Mike Pepper, The Computer Guy. MIKE PEPPER, The Computer Guy, has been providing software and hardware support in New York and Connecticut for more than 35 years. He can be reached at: www.PawlingComputerGuy.com.