How to detect and fix WiFi interference

How to detect and fix WiFi interference

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

Wi-Fi interference is any signal outside of the configured WiFi network that impairs normal operation of the WiFi network. The most common cause of WiFi interference is other WiFi signals outside of the network operator’s control. Having this in mind will help you know exactly how to overcome these interfering signals.

How to detect and fix Wi-Fi interference

To fix interfering signals or WiFi interference, there are some steps you need to take. These steps are provided below:

  • Re-position router

WiFi interference

When it come to WiFi signals, positioning  or how and where the router is positioned maters a lot. If the router is placed in the wrong position, it might not be working to it’s full capacity. for best result, do not places your router on:

  • Concrete or brick walls
  • Near a microwave
  • Close to metal objects
  • Close to magnetic objects

For optimum performance, the best places to position your router is:

  • Set it up high
  • Position the antenna upward for a better horizontal reach, or sideways for vertical reach.
  • Position the router in an open space.

So if you’ve been having interference in your network, try re-positioning the router and see if that improves the signal, and you may be surprised at the results.

  • Choosing the right WiFi channel

WiFi interference

If you’re using the latest 5Ghz WiFi, you shouldn’t need to worry too much about which channel you’re using. Although you may want to switch to a different available channel if nearby connections are using the same channel. 5GHz WiFi operates on a much higher frequency than 2.4GHz WiFi so it isn’t subject to the same common microwave interference that can affect 2.4Ghz WiFi.

However, to choose a WiFi channel, Click the Advanced tab, then select Wireless > Wireless Settings. You’ll see the 2.4GHz WiFi settings by default. Select the desired channel from the Channel drop-down menu and then click Save to finish. Note, you must be log into the router to carry out this changes.

It’s not always that simple, though, as plenty of people don’t follow this simple rule; for example, you may be surrounded by people using Channel 2, which overlaps both Channel 1 and 6. Picking the right channel isn’t just about making the right decision based on technical data, but picking the right channel based on the networks around you, then.

Fortunately,with the introduction of 5GHz networks, this problem has been fixed. We now which have more channels, and none of which overlaps. However, a neighbour maybe running a network on the same channel, causing interference issues. For both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, the trick is to set your router to use a channel different (where possible) to other wireless networks within range and one that doesn’t overlap.

This isn’t a perfect science and sometimes the interference or problems are caused by devices that you can’t detect, such as a baby monitor or wireless doorbell. As a result, you may need to change channels a couple of times to see any improvement.

How to Scan for Interference

The first place to start is with a Wi-Fi Scanner for your computer. These scan for wireless networks within range and tell you which channel they’re running on, and the base frequency (2.4GHz or 5GHz). WiFi Scanner for Mac is a brilliant and useful tool. For Windows, you can use inSSIDer Home (free). This has been replaced by a newer paid-for version, but the old version still works perfectly well.

Alternatively, Windows users can use WiFi Channel Scanner (free). This only shows you the channel of the network, not the frequency, and has an odd quirk with 5GHz networks, but it’s still possible to work out what’s going on. Channels 1 to 13 are 2.4GHz networks, while channels 36 and above are for 5GHz networks.

However, WiFi Channel Scanner doubles the channel number for 5GHz networks, so channel 72 is really channel 36. There are no WiFi scanners for iOS, as Apple had these removed from the App Store. Android is more permissive, so you can use WiFi Analyzer.

Run your chosen tool and let it gather information on nearby wireless networks. You can usually sort by channel, which gives you a better view of what’s going on.
For 2.4GHz networks, look at the most used channels. For example, you may find that most of your neighbors are using channel 1. Using the chart above you can pick an uncongested channel farthest from the one most used. In this example, channel 11 would be ideal, but channel 6 would also work.

There’s nothing to stop you using Channels 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 or 13, as these don’t overlap Channel 1. We don’t recommend that you do this, though. Part of owning a wireless network is being a good neighbor and picking a channel that doesn’t cause too much interference. In other words, look at the channel with the greatest concentration of wireless networks. This will make it easier for other people to add or configure their networks, too.

Note that in some areas, there are so many wireless networks using all kinds of channels that it’s impossible to choose a channel that doesn’t overlap any others. You may find, for example, that some routers around you are using channels 2, 3, 4 and 5, as well as 1. In this case, you’ll need to pick a channel that doesn’t overlap the most congested area, so channel 11 in this example. Ultimately, with so many wireless networks around, you may just have to pick the channel that gives you the best result, regardless of the consequences for other people.

For 5GHz networks, overlap’s not a problem, but general congestion could be. Note down which channels are the busiest: you should avoid using these channels on your home network.

How do I reduce WiFi interference

These general steps can help achieve a cleaner, stronger wireless signal:

  • Bring your Wi-Fi device and Wi-Fi router closer together. Bring the Bluetooth devices that are connecting to each other closer together. 
  • Avoid using your wireless devices near common sources of interference, such as power cables, microwave ovens, fluorescent lights, wireless video cameras, and cordless phones.
  • Reduce the number of active devices that use the same wireless frequency band. Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices use the 2.4 GHz band, but many Wi-Fi devices can use the 5 GHz band instead. If your Wi-Fi router supports both bands, it might help to connect more of your Wi-Fi devices to the 5GHz band. Some dual-band routers manage this for you automatically.
  • Configure your Wi-Fi router to use a different Wi-Fi channel, or have it scan for the channel with the least interference. Most routers perform this scan automatically on startup or when reset.

If you’re using USB 3 devices with your computer, you can limit their potential to interfere with nearby wireless devices:

  • Use a high-quality, shielded USB cable with each USB 3 device.
  • Move your USB 3 devices—including any USB hubs—farther away from your wireless devices.
  • Connect USB 3 devices to the ports farthest from your computer’s Wi-Fi antenna. For example, if your computer has ports on the back, prefer the USB ports closest to the middle. If your computer has ports on the side, prefer the USB ports closest to the front.
  • Turn off any USB 3 devices that aren’t in use.

Avoid physical obstructions in the path of your wireless signal. For example, a metal surface between your Bluetooth mouse and computer could cause the mouse to perform poorly, and a metal-reinforced concrete floor between your Wi-Fi router and Wi-Fi device could cause poor Wi-Fi performance.

  • Low interference potential: wood, glass, and many synthetic materials
  • Medium interference potential: water, bricks, marble
  • High interference potential: plaster, concrete, bulletproof glass
  • Very high interference potential: metal

How do I make my WiFi signal stronger

  • Select a Good Place for Your Router
  • Get a Stronger Antenna
  • Keep Your Router Updated
  • Buy a WiFi Repeater/ Booster/ Extender
  • Switch to a Different WiFi Channel
  • Use the Latest WiFi Technologies
  • Switch to 5 GHz
  • Always Reboot