Find and fix Wi-Fi problems, extend range and increase internet speed with our complete guide for your wireless network
How to configure a 2.4GHz wireless router
STEP 1 – Connect to the management page
Connect to the web-based management page by opening a web browser and typing in your router’s IP address. This should be written in the manual that came with the router, but you can find the address simply enough from your computer.
In Windows get up a Command Prompt from the Start menu and type ipconfig. Note down the Gateway address, as this is your router’s IP address. If you’ve got a Mac, get up Terminal and type, netstat -nr. You’ll get a long list of results, but the Gateway address listed next to default is the one that you want.
STEP 2 – Set the region
We’ll start with 2.4GHz networks, which are the most common. Find the wireless settings in your router. Depending on the manufacturer, the settings we’ll tell you to change may be in a few different places, and your router may have an Advanced section with more settings in it. First, make sure that the Region is set correctly. If it’s set to a different region, you won’t be able to use channels 12 and 13 in the UK
STEP 3 – Set the operating mode
Most routers will let you set the operating mode. This defines which wireless standards can connect to your router. For example, you can force it so that only 802.11n devices can connect. If all of your devices use the fastest speed the router offers, set it to the highest mode. If you’ve got some older legacy devices, make sure that you set a mixed mode that includes the fastest speed the router supports. For example, 802.11n routers should be set to support 802.11n, 802.11g and 802.11b.
STEP 4 – Disable channel bonding
Next, you need to look at how many channels your router is using. To increase the speed, many routers use channel bonding, which uses two wireless channels simultaneously to double theoretical throughput. In the congested 2.4GHz space, this causes interference and can reduce performance, which is why we recommend setting your router to use a single channel: if you live in an uncongested area, you can always experiment by turning on dual-channel mode later.
The setting varies by router type and model, so you may need to check your router’s manual. For 802.11g networks, look for a channel-bonding selector, or change the max speed from 125Mbits/sec or 108Mbits/sec to half these values. For 802.11n routers, you may see a channel bonding option, but you’re more likely to see a speed setting. If the router is set to 270Mbits/sec or 300Mbits/sec (or higher), drop the setting down to half these values.
With 802.11ac routers, the 2.4GHz part actually uses 802.11n. You may find the same settings as above, but some routers have a Channel Width setting, which should be set to 20MHz, down from 40MHz. Finally, some routers have an Auto setting for this mode, but we recommend manually selecting the best mode to get initial stability, then experimenting by turning Auto on later.
STEP 5 – Change your router’s channel
You now need to change the channel that your router runs on. Using the information you noted down from the Wi-Fi scanner and the overlap chart, select the least congested channel, with no overlap to other channels (where possible). Save your settings and the new settings will be applied. Again, some routers have an Auto setting for this mode, but we’ve generally found that manually selecting a channel works the best.
STEP 6 – Test our your settings
You can now try out your new settings. Walk around your house to see if wireless range and signal strength have improved. You may want to test your broadband speed again. If things have improved, you can go back into your router’s settings and try turning on some of the Auto settings. You may want to try channel bonding to increase speed, but we don’t recommend it as we’ve always found it causes problems. If things haven’t improved or have become worse, you should go back into your router’s settings and try a new channel, using the information you collected before to pick the next least-congested one.