We don't realize how much we rely on Wi-Fi until we don't have it or, worse, we really need it to work and it… doesn't. From our work to our play, we depend on our Wi-Fi network performance to help us get access to all the online world has to offer. That makes measuring your Wi-Fi network performance important. It can help you identify problems you may have so you can make improvements and, ultimately, reach optimal connectivity.
This article will help you measure your Wi-Fi network performance, find out the average Wi-Fi speeds and performance and how to improve Wi-Fi network performance. We'll also outline the best practices to reach optimal Wi-Fi network performance and the importance of measuring it.
When it comes to understanding Wi-Fi network performance, it's important to first start at the most basic level – what it is. Wi-Fi network performance refers to the quality and speed of the wireless signal transmitted between devices and a Wi-Fi router. It affects how fast data transfers, how well streaming services work, and how well your devices work online.
Many other things can affect your Wi-Fi network performance, including the distance between the device and router, the number of devices connected to your network, the Wi-Fi channel you're using, and the type of device you're using.
Your Wi-Fi signal strength is a measure of the wireless signal's power, in other words, how strong the signal is and how far it can go, while Wi-Fi speed measures how fast data transfers.
Measuring Wi-Fi network performance is key to identifying and fixing Wi-Fi performance issues, such as slow internet speeds, dropped connections, and slow downloads. How do you go about it? Let's discuss.
Online speed test tools can help measure your Wi-Fi network performance by testing your internet connection's speed and performance. Examples of such tools include Speedtest.net, Fast.com, and Google's internet speed test.
A speed test of Wi-Fi will show you your download and upload speed, latency, and jitter - depending on the speed test tool you use.
Built-in device tools, such as Windows Task Manager and macOS Activity Monitor, can also help measure Wi-Fi network performance by providing real-time data on network usage.
To ensure more accurate Wi-Fi network performance measurement results, you must source your measurements from different places, disconnect other devices from the network and avoid running other programs during testing. All these things can affect your results and give you an inaccurate reading of your Wi-Fi network performance.
How to interpret your results' lingo, so it makes sense to you
Interpreting Wi-Fi network performance measurement results involves understanding the speed test results, including what the words mean, like your upload and download speeds, latency, and jitter.
The internet is a two-way street. It's a give-and-take. When you're taking from it or downloading large files, your download speed will impact how fast your file will download off the internet. Therefore, download speed refers to the speed at which your device receives data from the internet.
On the other hand, upload speed refers to the speed at which your device sends data to the internet. For instance, if you're uploading a picture on Facebook, you want your upload to take a few seconds. And to achieve that, you'll have to have a decent upload speed. The higher your download speed and upload speed numbers are, the better your connection and online experience.
Latency refers to the time it takes for your device to send a request to a website and receive a response. Think of a tennis match where you hit a ball, and it goes to the other player's court and then back to you. It's how fast your device transmits data to an internet server and back again. Or, in tennis, how fast the ball will be in your court again. Ideally, you want your ping to be super low to avoid having a laggy experience.
Then there's jitter which is the variation in ping time. It's the different intervals of time it takes for data packets to be sent and received across the internet from your computer. You want the jitter number to also be as low as possible.
Average Wi-Fi speeds and performance
On average, the Wi-Fi download speed in the US is around 130 Mbps and 50 Mbps for upload. However, actual speeds vary from person to person depending on several factors, including the type of Wi-Fi network you're on, the number of devices connected, and the distance between your device and the router. Interference from other Wi-Fi networks and devices and the age of the Wi-Fi router can also impact your Wi-Fi speed.
This is all to say that while the average number is 130 down, 50 up, it doesn't mean you're guaranteed those speeds. Nor should you worry if they're not the same as your internet speed. That said, an internet Wi-Fi speed test can help you determine whether you're getting the best connection possible or need to take steps to improve it.
Keeping your network secure is an absolute must to protect your personal data and prevent unauthorized access. Ensure that you enable WPA2 encryption and use a strong (or even a bit random) password that is not easily guessable. Understanding network security and keeping your settings strong is very important to protect personal and sensitive information.
Router manufacturers often release firmware updates that improve performance and fix bugs and security issues. Make sure to check for updates regularly and install them when they're available to you.
Also, avoid using an outdated Wi-Fi router. Modern routers need to be designed to handle high-capacity usage, and some can only cater to certain internet speeds. Upgrading your Wi-Fi network equipment, such as the router or modem, can noticeably improve your network performance.
Make sure that your network settings are properly configured, including your DHCP settings, IP address range, and port forwarding rules. Incorrect configurations can cause connectivity issues and reduce your network performance.
One major factor affecting Wi-Fi network performance is interference and congestion. Interference happens when other wireless devices or even household appliances use the same frequency as your Wi-Fi network, which can then cause signal interference and reduce your network's performance. Congestion, on the other hand, happens when too many devices are using the same Wi-Fi network, which can lead to slower speeds and reduced overall performance.
a) Choose the right Wi-Fi channel:
By default, most routers automatically select a channel when they are set up. However, this channel can become congested if many other networks operate on the same channel in your area. This is likely to happen if the channel is the default. An easy fix is using a Wi-Fi analyser app to scan for available channels and selecting one with the least interference.
b) Reduce interference from other devices
Some household appliances, like microwaves and cordless phones, can interfere with your Wi-Fi signal. Keep your router away from these devices or switch to a different frequency to avoid interference.
c) Limit the number of connected devices
The more devices connected to your Wi-Fi network, the slower the performance will be. Consider limiting the number of devices allowed to connect to your network, especially if they are not actively being used.
d) Use Wi-Fi extenders or mesh networks
If you have a large home or office, you may experience weaker signals in certain areas. Consider investing in Wi-Fi extenders or mesh networks to increase coverage and reduce congestion in high-traffic areas. These tools will help amplify your signal, so it reaches further and is stronger.
To wrap up, measuring Wi-Fi network performance is super important to ensure you get the best performance from your network. Knowledge is power. So, understanding the factors that affect Wi-Fi network performance, such as signal strength, speed, interference, and congestion, and taking steps to measure and improve performance can help you get the most out of your network. Following the tips discussed in this article, you can maintain optimal Wi-Fi network performance and enjoy seamless internet connectivity, productivity, streaming, and overall home entertainment experiences.