How to improve the range for a wireless USB network adapter

Written by nick davis
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How to improve the range for a wireless USB network adapter
You can improve the signal going to your computer's USB network adaptor. (student with wireless Internet image by Paul Hill from Fotolia.com)

Wireless network adaptors allow you to access your Internet connection from any area of your home or business. The connection range varies depending on how far you are from the wireless router and what objects are blocking the wireless signal. A variety of techniques can improve the range of your wireless Universal Serial Bus (USB) network adaptor without having to tear down walls, buy a new wireless adaptor or buy a new computer.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • High-gain replacement wireless router antenna
  • Wireless repeater
  • 2 pieces of cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Tinfoil
  • Tape
  • Icepick

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Move your wireless router to a central location away from an outside wall and metal objects and off of the floor. This enables your computer's wireless USB network adaptor to receive the wireless signal better and with less interference.

  2. 2

    Replace the antenna on your wireless router with a high-gan wireless router antenna. This is a good idea if the antenna is damaged or not supplying a strong wireless signal. High-gain replacement antennas are available at electronics and computer outlets. Aim the new antenna in the direction that results in the strongest signal being transmitted to your computer's wireless USB network adaptor.

  3. 3

    Change your wireless router's channel to "1," "6," or "11" through the router's configuration page. By changing this setting, you will reduce the amount of interference being received and transmitted by the wireless router. Consult your wireless router's manual for the specific URL address to access the configuration page. Your computer's wireless USB network adaptor will automatically detect the new channel.

  4. 4

    Purchase a cordless telephone that uses 5.8GHz or 900MHz frequencies. These cordless phones transmit less noise through your home or office and don't interfere with signals being transmitted to your computer's wireless USB network adaptor. Avoid using a cordless telephone that uses the 2.4GHz frequency because these phones result in the highest amount of noise being transmitted throughout the air.

  5. 5

    Purchase a wireless repeater and place it halfway between your wireless router and your computer's wireless USB network adaptor. The wireless repeater will improve the range of the wireless signal. Wireless repeaters are available at electronics and computer outlets.

  6. 6

    Update your computer's wireless USB network adaptor and wireless router's firmware. Click "Start," then "All Programs." Click on "Windows Update." The Windows Update" dialogue box will open in your computer's browser. Click on "Check for updates." Microsoft will search for updates. Install any updates related to your computer's wireless USB network adaptor and router, if using Windows Vista/7.

    If using Windows XP or later, visit Microsoft Update (see Resources). Click "Custom." Microsoft will search for updates. Install any updates related to your computer's wireless USB network adaptor and router.

  7. 7

    Make a reflector using tinfoil, cardboard, tape and a icepick. Cut the cardboard in a rectangle shape measuring six inches across and four inches down. Wrap the tinfoil around the cardboard. Cut another piece of cardboard in a circular shape. Bend the circular piece slightly in a "C" shape. Tape the C-shaped circular piece onto the rectangle piece using tape. Use an icepick to punch a hole through the top and bottom of the circular piece. Place the reflector onto your wireless router's antenna by feeding the antenna through the holes of the circular piece. The reflector will bounce the signal to your computer's wireless USB network adaptor.

Tips and warnings

  • You can also improve the wireless signal to your computer's wireless USB network adaptor by purchasing a wireless router that is the same brand as the USB network adaptor. You often get better performance from equipment manufactured by the same vendor.
  • Replacing your USB network adaptor and wireless router with an 802.11g adaptor and wireless router will result in a five-times-faster signal range.

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