Wireless internet has become such an essential part of our daily lives that it’s difficult to remember what it was like to have dial-up internet for our home or office use. There’s no doubt that wifi has made daily tasks, from banking to booking a flight, much easier but life can get stressful when a wifi connection is glitchy and doesn’t work as well as we expect.
If your wifi works better in some parts of the house than others, or you would like to stream your favorite podcast while relaxing on the patio, installing one of the best wifi extenders is an easy fix to an annoying yet common issue.
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How Does a Wifi Extender Work?
Before you purchase a wifi extender or install one in your home or workplace, it’s helpful to know how a wifi extender works. A wifi extender name speaks for itself as it’s designed to extend the coverage of a wifi connection. While a wifi extender does a great job of extending the range of a connection, it won’t work well if your router is outdated or is not set up in the optimum space.
Checking Your Wifi Router Before Setting up a Wifi Extender
There’s no point in wasting your time installing a wifi extender if your router is in poor working condition. A good wifi router will operate nicely for a few years, but if you have had the same router for four or five years, it’s probably time to get a new one. Even if it seems to be working well, a new router will give off a better signal.
If your router is new and still has a poor signal, make sure you have it setup in a central location. If you’re still getting poor coverage or not the range you would like, a wifi extender is the next best step.
Before You Get Started
Before you set up your wifi extender, you may benefit from downloading Netgear’s Analytics App. This app can help you accurately determine where the weakest wifi spots are and will save you the time and trouble of trying to figure it out on your own. This app is also useful after you install a wifi extender to make sure it’s working as well as it could.
While you can’t change the architectural integrity of your home to get the best wifi coverage, you can make sure that you clear and open paths. If your home is cluttered, getting better wifi could be an incentive for getting rid of unnecessary or bulky items that can infer with a signal.
Netgear Wifi Extender Setup
Setting up a wifi extender is an easy process, and if done correctly, you should be able to enjoy your wifi connection in the farthest corners of your house or the comfort of your backyard. These steps are designed to help even the least tech savvy successfully setup a wifi extender:
Don’t Forget to Check the Router
Although we already talked about a wifi router, it never hurts to mention again because this is an important step that many people overlook. Even though the purpose of a wifi extender is to boost the range of the connection, the extender relies on a good connection with the wifi router. Again, if the router works poorly, your wifi extender setup will be frustrating and may not even work. So don’t forget to check out the condition and placement of the router.
Keep the Packaging and Directions
If you follow these steps, you’re not likely to even need to look at the wifi extender directions, but don’t toss out the packaging or the directions. While Netgear makes some of the best wifi extenders on the market, no tech product is immune from being defective. Hold on to the packaging just in case it doesn’t work.
Plug in Close Proximity to the Router
Although there are wifi extenders, which work great, and plug directly into a wall with an Ethernet cable, nothing is quite as overwhelming to a tech novice than a bunch of cords. One of the great things about a cordless wifi extender is that it plugs directly into an outlet on the wall. There are no cords to mess with, and you don’t need to clear off a space on your desk to make room. Just plug it in and the closer to your wifi router, the better.
Check to See if Your Router Supports WPS
If your router supports WPS, it will have a separate button with arrows that look a bit like a yin and yang symbol. What is WPS? It stands for Wi-Fi Protected Setup and is a shortcut for setting up devices without requiring the need for network name or passwords. If your router doesn’t appear to have a WPS button, read the how to setup without WPS further in the article.
Connecting with WPS
Connecting your router and extender via WPS is a time saver and less complicated than manually setting up with network names and passwords. Push the WPS button on the wifi extender and then do the same on your wifi router, after doing this, you should see a solid green light on your extender. This light indicates a good connection between your router and extender.
How to Extend Wifi Range
Your wifi router may have a button for a 5GHz band. If it does, you will probably want to utilize this as it is “less congested” and is not as affected by wireless interferences as much as 2.4GHz. One downside to 5GHz is that it has a tendency to have range issues now and then, but placement can decrease the likelihood of interruptions in your wifi performance.
With this in mind, keep the extender between your wifi router and wireless devices and preferably in an open space. A crowded area with Bluetooth gadgets or even in a kitchen near a microwave could interfere with how well the extender boosts the wifi signal.
Connecting to Other Devices in Low-Quality Wifi Spots
Want to have a better wifi connection to your computer in a room that typically gets a weak wifi signal? After your initial setup, you can move your wifi extender closer to the device you want to connect and attempt to boost the signal. Keep in mind that the distance between the router and the extender is important.
When you plug the extender into a new outlet, a green light (sometimes amber colored light) will indicate that you have a good connection with your wifi router. A red light means you need to get closer the router. You may need to do this a few times before you find an optimal distance.
Once you have a good connection, you can connect your device by using the new network name (this is the same place where you usually connect to a network). The network will be the same but has an extension of either 2.4G or 5G. User will use the same password as you when connecting with your regular network.
Connecting Devices in “Dead Spots”
If your wifi extender is setup properly and has a good connection with your wifi router, you shouldn’t have any issues connecting to your devices that are in “dead spots” (or areas where you previously didn’t have any wireless access). If your extender can’t connect the device, try to move the device closer to the extender until you see a green or amber light up on the “client device.”
Setting Up a Wifi Extender without WPS
If you have purchased a wifi extender, but don’t have a WPS on your router, there’s no need to buy a new router if it works fine, just follow these directions.
Connecting with Your Ethernet Cable
Without WPS it may take a little longer to connect your wifi extender, but the idea is the same. First, you’ll want to connect the end of your Ethernet cable, or Cat5 cable, into the Internet port on the extender and the other end into the Internet port on your wifi router.
If you’ve had the same internet setup for awhile and you didn’t set it up yourself, don’t panic. You can setup a wifi extender on your own. Can’t remember what the Ethernet cable is? It’s typically the blue cord.
Inserting the Ethernet into the LAN port
The next step is to connect the Ethernet cable into the LAN port on the extender and the other end into an Ethernet port on any computer that has a connection to your network. After you launch your web browser, type the IP address of the wifi extender into the address field (or address bar). This is when it’s handy to hang onto the instructions as you will find the address in the manual.
Entering Login Information
After you have entered the extender’s IP address, the configuration page will open, and you should click wireless settings, enter your wireless network name in the SSID box, and then save. Next, click on wireless security, select the security type (like WEP), type in the password, and then save. Keep in mind that your options may be different depending on your operating system, but if done correctly, you will have successfully setup your wifi extender.
After you unplug your Ethernet cords from the extender and router, you should plan on positioning your extender within an acceptable range from your router.
What if the Wifi Extender Doesn’t Work?
Even if you tried out an analytics app and you found the right place to setup your wifi extender, issues may occur. While most tech gadgets are designed to be setup with relative ease and zero complications, that’s not always the case. Before you give up and assume that you’re destined to only have a good wifi connection in your living room, here are a few things to recheck or consider.
Yes, we’re talking about the router again. If your wifi extension is not boosting a signal as far as it should, check the router and replace if necessary. When you buy a new router, ask about the return policy. If it turns out that the issue is not your wifi router you may want to have the option of returning the router.
Check Conditions of Cords and Cables
Although Ethernet cables are made to last and can handle a little bit of wear and tear, they can become damaged. Maybe you have a pet who has the habit of chewing on cords or some cables got pinched beneath heavy furniture. Stranger things have happened. Check the condition and replace if necessary.
Use a Proper Outlet
We live in a world of extension cords and power strips. Although this may go without saying, when setting up a cordless wireless extender it’s a wise idea only to plug it into a surge protected outlet. Not only are surge protected outlets safer overall, but they will protect your tech devices from being destroyed if an electrical issue occurs.
When in Doubt, Ask for Help
Setting up a wifi extender should be easy, but if you’re out of ideas or have tried everything it’s time to ask for help; there’s no shame in asking for professional assistance. Either take a look at the instructional manual again, visit the support website, or call the company, and a skilled customer service rep will help you troubleshoot your problems.
If there appears to be nothing wrong with the wifi extender itself, you may benefit from a different or additional device, such as a powerline, which can help the extender or eliminate the need for one.
We live in a world with multiple wireless gadgets and rely heavily on wireless connections, but there’s no reason to leave the comfort of your home to get a good wifi connection nor should you have to stay in one room of your home. In most cases, a wifi extender will bring a good connection to all the places you want to use a wireless device at home or the office.