Six Things That Block Your Wi-Fi, and How to Fix Them

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3. Bluetooth Devices

Motorola Finiti Bluetooth headset
Older Bluetooth devices did interfere with Wi-Fi networks--but those days have passed.

"Over the past several years, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi manufacturers have implemented specific techniques to minimize interference," says Kalle.

The solution: "Most people replace their phones every couple of years, so unless you have a really old phone or Bluetooth device, it's unlikely that [Bluetooth] will interfere with Wi-Fi," says Kalle.

4. Humans

You might recall from science class that the human body is mostly water, anywhere from 45 percent to 75 percent depending on your age and fitness level. Water can hamper Wi-Fi speeds, too.

"For example, say your room is very crowded and you're having a party. That can actually dampen your Wi-Fi signal--but that's an extreme case," says Kalle.

"When we're doing Wi-Fi testing in the lab and trying to get very accurate results, we have to make sure that we're not standing in front of the antenna, because we'll measurably impact the performance," he adds.

Humidity can affect Wi-Fi speeds too, but not enough for the average user to notice.

The solution: Relax. Don't worry about humidity, or those bags of water called people. After all, you can't control the weather, and it's unwise to be antisocial just to get better Wi-Fi performance.

5. Security Settings

Computer security
In some low-end routers, a stronger security setting can moderately affect performance. However, that doesn't mean you should turn off security completely, or downgrade to weaker protection.

In recent years, the WPA (Wireless Protected Access) and WPA2 protocols have displaced the older and less-secure WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol). On inexpensive routers that use WEP, upgrading to WPA may impede performance a bit. In contrast, more-robust devices generally have hardware specifically designed for WPA and WPA2 encryption; as a result, the stronger security protocols shouldn't slow Wi-Fi speeds on higher-end routers.

The solution: Kalle stresses the importance of router encryption. "You always hear about data theft, and it's so easy to enable security these days," he says. Since today's routers have security enabled out of the box, users don't have to worry about configuring it. But don't disable encryption, even if doing so may speed up your Wi-Fi a little.

6. Old Firmware

Why upgrade your router's firmware? Well, for performance improvements and occasionally a new feature or two.

"Whenever you have a problem, check to see if you have good firmware. Sometimes there are little bugs out there, and the router manufacturer may already have a fix," says Kalle.

When you buy a new router, it's always a good idea to check for the latest firmware as well.

The solution: Keep your firmware up-to-date. With older devices, you'll have to access the router's administrative interface--typically through a Web browser--to check for updates. The process is getting easier, though. "Our routers have an application--it's almost like iTunes--that tells you whenever there's new firmware available," says Kalle. "The user can update by just pushing a button."

Although the workings of your router may seem mysterious, following these simple tips can go a long way toward keeping your home wireless network in working order.

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