Welcome to our blog post on how to test WiFi signal strength in your home. In this post, we will be looking at the free online tests that you can run. As well as taking a closer look at the most meaningful measures of WiFi, signal strength, consistency, and throughput. And how that translates to dropouts, lag, and buffering on your network.
The fastest and simplest way of checking the quality of your wireless network is the WiFi signal indicator icon. The more bars you have the stronger the WiFi signal is being received by the device. However, signal strength alone is not an indication of quality, a user can still experience a frustrating time while trying to get things done online.
When deciding how to test WiFi signal strength in your home lets concider the common issues. These can be characterised by high network latency (lag), weak signal (Poor reach), and or low throughput (speed). For example, when you are gaming online with high latency. You tell your character to walk, there is a delay before they move. Or you’re connected to video calls and suffering poor video and audio quality. This is lag and is the symptom of high latency. Latency is how fast data travels to a destination (server) and back again. i.e. the total round trip of a packet of data.
A weak signal is normally easily identified by the signal strength bar indicator. Problems can be intermittent depending on the distance from the nearest WiFi point or router. Other environmental conditions can affect this also. This is discussed in more detail in another post 4 Causes of poor WiFi in your Home.
If your network isn’t fast enough to meet the demands of its users at any given time then you will experience buffering. This is the reason you are waiting for Netflix to download enough of the stream before it can start or resume the program. The network speed test measures the time it takes for a certain amount of data to travel from a destination i.e. a server to your device this is the download speed. The upload speed checks how quickly your device sends data back to a server.
The first step in this how to test WiFi signal strength guide, is to establish a base line. This is done by checking the throughput and jitter you are receiving into your property. There are many free browser based online, speed tests you can use. Look out for one that measures the download/upload speeds and jitter. Cloud Flare is an example of a site that measures jitter, there are many others out there to choose from.
Many factors may affect the results of your speed tests. For example the device, time of day, and the speed test tool can all add variables. That’s why it’s best to keep these things consistent if possible. Use a laptop if that’s possible as you will be able to test your router directly to get a baseline as to what speed and pings you are receiving straight to your property from your ISP (internet service provider).
First of all plug an Ethernet cable from your laptop directly into your router and run the online speed test.
Check that the download speed is reasonable for the broadband package that you have. For smooth gaming and video calls, a jitter of no more than 30ms is adequate. The results will vary depending on the time of day so it’s best to take an average over a few days. If you’re consistently not getting the required results then contact your ISP for a diagnostics session.
Now you have a baseline to compare your results to. You will need to know how to test WiFi signal strength in and around your property. The next step is to unplug your laptop from the router and connect to your WiFi network. Move around your house making a note of the upload, download, and jitter readings in various locations. If you suspect you have WiFi black spots then run the test from these locations. Where the download and upload are much less in certain areas then you know that you have problems with the quality of the signal or signal reach. A high jitter in the area means you have a problem with network interference, blocked signal, or packet loss flooding the network.
If you are experiencing a big loss in speed or the jitter is higher than desirable. Check which access point you are linked to. Your network might not have the roaming feature or it isn’t handing off correctly. Or you might not be connected to the closest access point.
A slow or jittery network can still show full bars on the signal indicator, this isn’t always the full picture. If you’re experiencing issues with your internet connectivity, it’s worth spending the time to find out where your bottleneck is.
If the problem is within your home, its time to review and possibly upgrade or expand your existing network infrastructure. Mesh systems typically do a good job of boosting the signal strength but not necessarily the signal quality. Expanding your WiFi reach using boosters increases latency and reduces throughput at each node. Distributing a more and more distorted signal at each node.
Just because you are located further away from the router doesn’t mean that you should suffer from poor service.
Hardwired access points will distribute internet more effectively. Meaning you can expect to see throughput and latency at speeds much closer to what is received to your property.
I hope you have found this post on how to test WiFi signal strength in your home helpful. Check out our website for further information, and of course drop us a mail, give us a call, or complete the contact us form for further information.
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