How Much Does My Router Affect Internet Speed?

Sean Jackson
August 26, 2020

A WiFi router is an essential part of your home internet setup. The router is responsible for delivering the radio signals that allow your smartphone, tablet, laptop and smart TV to connect to the internet without wires or cables. But routers can also be responsible for slowing down your connection. Does your router affect internet speed? Let’s explore how you can troubleshoot and find out.

How Can I Tell If My Internet Speeds Have Slowed?

The most reliable way to tell if your internet speeds have slowed is by performing an independent speed test. This is easy to do, it’s free and only takes a minute.

It’s best to perform an internet speed test occasionally to see if you’re still getting the internet speeds your provider advertised. Make a note of the result each time you check your internet speed so that you can track if things are slowing down. 

You can also try performing a speed test at different times of day. Peak hours, like after work, will typically be slower than off-peak hours, like late at night or early in the morning. This is also a good way to troubleshoot and decide if it is the router causing the issue.

Does My Router Affect Internet Speed?

If you’re wondering how a router affects internet speed, there are a few different things to look at. The first thing to consider is your router's age. If you’ve purchased a router in the past year or two, it’s unlikely there is a problem with the device – but make sure that it has the latest firmware installed as this can impact how well the router works. 

Even if there’s not a problem with the device itself,  the router can affect speed by being too far from the devices that need to access it. You may also be stretching one router too thin: larger homes sometimes need additional routers or WiFi extenders to make sure everyone in the household stays connected.

However, there can also be problems with the device itself that affect internet speed. An older router may simply not be designed for your newly upgraded internet plan, especially if you’ve recently traded up to fiber or gigabit internet. It could also be that the device needs repaired or replaced. Certain parts like the antenna are more likely to need replacing in order to boost speed.

Tips For Increasing Internet Speed

Here are some ways you can improve your router’s performance: 

  • Reboot your wireless router. It might seem too obvious, but simply turning your router off and back on again might be the trick to getting internet speeds back to where they once were. Just unplug it for 30 seconds to a minute before turning it back on. If it doesn’t make an improvement, call the manufacturer if you purchased the router, or if you rented one, call your ISP for assistance. 
  • Move your router to a different location. If your wireless router is too far from your device, or the antenna is pointed in the wrong direction, you might not be able to take full advantage of your internet speed. The best location depends on your layout. Ideally, you want the router to be in a central, open location in a higher area that has better signal range such as a living room, large family room, on top of a bookcase etc. Conversely, putting the router in a walled-in corner, basement or a tucked away location prevents it from sending stronger signals, leading to dead or slow zones throughout your home. If you have a home with multiple floors, you might want to consider several routers or a WiFi extender to strengthen the signal on each floor. 
  • Change to a different channel. Routers work on several different channels. Try changing these settings and performing internet speed tests to see if it makes a difference. If this doesn’t help, consult your router’s manufacturer or ISP for guidance. 
  • Replace the antenna. If your antenna is old, you might be able to just get a new one to improve the speed. There are also different types of antennae to consider, such as those that focus their broadcast in just one direction or those that send waves in many directions (also known as omnidirectional.) These are ideal to buy as they can penetrate walls to provide a clearer signal to other rooms in your home. This will also reduce the dead zones throughout your home or apartment. 
  • Buy a WiFi extender. If you live in a large home, your router may be struggling to keep up with the square footage. A WiFi extender is a simple device that extends the range of your router and shortens the average distance between your device and the nearest access point. When setting up a WiFi extender, a good rule is to place the extender halfway between your router and the rooms you want to strengthen the connection.