wifilaptopwithwomanSeems like this would be a really easy question to answer, but there are so many variables and pieces to this puzzle that it can sometimes become overwhelming. We’re here to help you break it down and simplify the process.

You’ll want to answer a few questions to get you started on the right path:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
    • Are you wanting to share internet with a neighbor?
    • Do you want your child to be able to stream movies in the WiFi devices in their room?
    • Do you want whole house WiFi access?
    • Access the RV Park signal that’s 300 feet away?
  • Where do you want the signal to go?
    • This relates to question one, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t have the answer for this.
  • What do you want to connect?
    • You’ll need specifics, makes, models, number of devices.

These may seem like straight forward questions, but correctly and honestly answering them can save you hours of frustration by getting you the right solution the first time. Below is a guide you can print out and use for reference when talking to anyone about possible WiFi solutions:

  • Do you have WiFi already? (This is a service that is often set up when you get broadband internet, possibly by your cable or cellular phone provider).
    • (This is a service that is often set up when you get broadband internet, possibly by your cable or cellular phone provider).
      • If Yes, what kind of router do you have? The make and model and knowing whether it has removable antennas or not can help you make an informed decision.
        • Some common brands are D-Link, NetGear and Linksys.
      • If No, how do you plan to access WiFi? Are you using public WiFi (like something at an RV park, coffee shop or hotel). You will not want to purchase any kind of accessory until you know how you are going to connect to WiFi
        • If you plan to use public WiFi there are several nuances you may encounter, we will save those for a different article.
  • Now that you know what router or WiFi access you have, where is it located in relation to where you’re trying to receive the signal? If the location is your house or office a rough diagram will help, especially with approximate distances. Is it 100 feet away through 4 walls and a refrigerator? Is it in the middle of your home but you’re trying to receive in the garage or the mother-in-law cottage next door which is 300 feet away? The more details you have about how far away and what’s in the way (walls, trees, levels of your home etc.) the better the solution will be. If it’s the coffee shop signal you want receiving may be more difficult.
  • The most important part is – what do you want to connect? The reason this is important is some devices like laptops can install drivers. Other devices like tablets, smartphones and gaming systems can’t. Those that cannot eliminate several possibilities for boosting WiFi. If you are planning on using the solution with a laptop, you will also need to know what operating system and version (this would be Windows 7 or MAC OS 9). If you want to connect multiple devices that narrows the solution options significantly.
    • Keep in mind that devices are only tested for operating systems that are currently available at the time the device is created. Sometimes drivers can be updated to work with new operating systems. Sometimes no updates are needed but other times major changes make older devices incompatible with new operating systems. Please be cautious when upgrading operating systems.

Now that you know the details, you can begin to look for the right solution.

  • For computers and laptops, you can choose from one of the USB antennas that connect directly to the USB port on your computer.
  • For routers with removable antennas, you can upgrade to a larger antenna system.
  • For creating a hotspot that multiple devices can connect to (such as smartphones and tablets), a repeater system would be a good place to start.
  • For specialty situations that are a distance of more than a few hundred feet or that require multiple access points (like a hotel or multi-office setup) a standard or custom bridge kit may be needed.

One more consideration: Not all makes and models are designed to work together (especially if you’re purchasing parts from multiple vendors). Compatibility issues may cause sub-par performance. Make sure to do your research and if you have any doubts, ask questions before making the final decision.

We’ve put together this really great chart to help you figure out the best solution for your situation. Still not sure what to do? Use the worksheet above that you’ve completed and give us a call. We can only advise you on solutions that we sell but we can certainly tell you if we don’t have anything that will work for what you’re trying to accomplish.

Not looking to purchase anything right now, here’s some ideas for boosting your WiFi for free.

What is your WiFi challenge? Tell us in the comments and you will be entered to win the Super WiFi Repeater Kit. One entry per person. Drawing will take place on June 1st.

Congratulations to Scott Goggin for winning the Super WiFi Repeater Kit on June 1st. Thank you all who participated! ! C. Crane