Now that we've verified that it is the Wi-Fi signal giving us the problem rather than an issue with where the router is positioned, we can start looking into a few different ways to improve the signal strength. Unfortunately, some of these steps can require a certain bit of technological savvy as you navigate the settings on the router. Remember to only go as far as you are comfortable when following these steps.
- Reboot the iPad and the Router
The first step to troubleshooting is always to reboot the devices. This will solve more problems than any other step to try, so first off, let's power down the iPad and any other devices we are connecting to the network. While they are powered down, let's reboot the router. Leave the router off for a few seconds before powering it back on and wait until all of the lights come back on before powering up the iPad and other devices.
If we are lucky, this will fix the problem and we won't have to proceed to the next steps.
- Remove other wireless technology
If you have a wireless phone or any other wireless technology near the router, try moving it somewhere else. Wireless phones can sometimes use the same frequency as a wireless router, which can cause the signal strength to degrade as it weeds out the interference. This can also be true of other wireless devices like baby monitors, so make sure the area around the router is clear of these devices.
- Update the Firmware of the Router
Just as it is important to keep your iPad's software up to date, it can be important to keep your router's firmware updated. The firmware is what runs the router, and as we add newer devices (like the iPad), older firmware can run into problems.
You'll need to log in to your router to update the firmware. You can log into the router from a web browser on your PC or your iPad, but you need to know the right address, the username and the password. These might be located in the manual or on a sticker on the router itself.
If you don't know the username and password, try "admin" as a username and "admin" or "password" as the password. You can even try leaving the password blank. If those don't work, you will need to find the correct username/password combo or refer to your particular brand of router on how to do a hard reset (if possible).
You can usually find the option to update the firmware under advanced options.
- Change Your Wi-Fi Broadcast Channel
This step will also require logging into your router. In your wireless settings, you should be able to find an option to change the channel of the frequency band. This is often set to '6' or 'automatic'. The best channels are 1, 6 and 11.
If your neighbors have Wi-Fi broadcasting on the same channel as you, there might be some interference. Try changing this from automatic to a hardcoded channel, starting with 1 and moving to 6 and 11. You can try other channels as well, but you may see even worst performance if the channel isn't one of the three mentioned here.
- Buy an External Antenna
If you are still having problems with multiple devices, you may have a hardware problem. But before you go out and replace your router, you can try buying an external antenna. Make sure that your router supports connecting an external antenna before you run down to Best Buy.
There are two types of Wi-Fi antenna: omnidirectional and high gain. A high gain antenna broadcasts the signal in only a single direction, but the signal itself is much stronger. This is great if your router is on one side of the house, but if your router is in the middle of your house, you'll probably want an omnidirectional antenna.
Also, make sure you buy the antenna from a store that allows returns for any reason. We're basically troubleshooting the router's antenna, and if the problem is with the router itself, hooking up an external antenna won't fix the problem
- Buy a New Router
If your router came from your broadband company, you should be able to call them up and get it replaced for free. They may take you through some of the same troubleshooting steps you have already gone through here, and because they know the specific hardware you are using, they may have a few new steps that could work.
If your router didn't come from your broadband company and you don't know much about wireless routers, it is best to go with a well-known brand name like Linksys (Compare Prices, Apple (Compare Prices), Netgear (Compare Prices) or Belkin (Compare Prices).