Life hack: how to get the best Wi-Fi signal in your home

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A Smart Home Needs a Strong Wi-Fi Signal

Sometimes you find yourself confronting questions about your gadgets that are so basic you don't want to consult your IT guy, your manual, or your niece. That's why we're here. This week, in basic answers to basic questions: how to get a better Wi-Fi signal around your house.

There is perhaps no gadget more vital and, at the same time, more completely incomprehensible than a wireless router. Companies ranging from giants like Apple (the AirPort line, $99–199) and Google (the OnHub, $178) to startups like Eero are doing their best to simplify them, but the basic facts remain: A router is a device in which even the most basic of settings and options are wildly unintuitive and mostly ignored because of that. If you know the difference between a 2.4GHz and 5GHz band, you're probably paid for your tech expertise in some way. And that's not an obscure setting; that's as basic an element of a router as a megapixel count on a camera.

RELATED: Cuba experiences modern technology

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Cuba experiencing modern technology
People sit and stand near a Wi-Fi hotspot in Havana, March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
A boy holds a portable video player as he walks with his mother in Havana September 18, 2015. The United States on Friday issued regulations easing restrictions on American companies seeking to do business in Cuba and opening up travel in the latest action to weaken the U.S. trade embargo amid warming relations with the Communist country. The rules, which take effect on Monday, September 21, target travel, telecommunications, Internet-based services, business operations and banking, and allow U.S. companies to establish a presence in Cuba. They also eliminate limits on the amount of money people can send back to the Caribbean nation. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. medical student Yasemin Lawson, 35, from Washington, uses the internet at a Wi-Fi hotspot in Havana, September 22, 2015. Cuba's new Wi-Fi hotspots - 35 nationwide since July with more promised soon - are a sensation in a highly-controlled country with one of the world's lowest Internet penetrations. Picture taken September 22, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Kevin Lachaise, 8, watches a recorded TV show through the screen of a computer at the living room of his home in downtown Havana February 10, 2015. Netflix Inc launched its movie and TV streaming service in Cuba on Monday, joining the list of U.S. companies looking to take advantage of thawing diplomatic relations between the United States and the communist-ruled island country. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini (CUBA - Tags: BUSINESS MEDIA SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)
Youths use the internet via their mobile devices, with the aid of wi-fi from a nearby hotel, in Holguin, Cuba September 20, 2015. Pope Francis met Cuba's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Sunday hours after warning Cubans to beware the dangers of ideology and the lure of selfishness as their country enters a new era of closer ties with the United States. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Young people use the internet via the free wifi at the studio of Cuban artist Alexis Leyva "Kcho" in Havana March 24, 2015. The studio is where former Cuban president Fidel Castro has his last public appearance and the password of the wifi connection is "Nobody surrenders here". REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa
Informatics technician Yurkel Medina, 36, studies about new technologies at the mobile phone repair shop where he works in downtown Havana, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Cubans use the internet via public Wi-Fi in Havana July 2, 2015. Cuba has opened 35 Wi-Fi access points nationwide, offering unprecedented online access in a country that until now has restricted use of the Internet to an elite few. Before the Wi-Fi signals became available on Wednesday, broadband Internet access had been limited to largely to desktops at state Internet parlors and pricey hotels. To match story CUBA-INTERNET/ REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa
Girls use the internet to communicate at a Wi-Fi hotspot in Havana, September 22, 2015. Cuba's new Wi-Fi hotspots - 35 nationwide since July with more promised soon - are a sensation in a highly-controlled country with one of the world's lowest Internet penetrations. Picture taken September 22, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
People sit near a Wi-Fi hotspot in a square at Havana, Cuba March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Young people use the internet via the free wifi at the studio of Cuban artist Alexis Leyva "Kcho" in Havana March 24, 2015. The studio is where former Cuban president Fidel Castro has his last public appearance and the password of the wifi connection is "Nobody surrenders here". REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa
Young people use the internet at a Wi-Fi hotspot in Havana, September 22, 2015. Cuba's new Wi-Fi hotspots - 35 nationwide since July with more promised soon - are a sensation in a highly-controlled country with one of the world's lowest Internet penetrations. Picture taken September 22, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Artist Dariel Llerandis, 31, speaks to his wife who is in Miami using the internet at a Wi-Fi hotspot in Havana, September 22, 2015. Cuba's new Wi-Fi hotspots - 35 nationwide since July with more promised soon - are a sensation in a highly-controlled country with one of the world's lowest Internet penetrations. Picture taken September 22, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A man surfs the internet using a wireless connection in the lobby of a hotel in Havana January 23, 2013. An undersea fiber-optic cable that promises to bring Cuban Internet and phone communications into the 21st Century stirred to life this week, two years after it was laid between Venezuela and the Caribbean island. When fully operational, the cable will provide download speeds 3,000 times faster than Cuba's current Internet and be capable of handling millions of phone calls simultaneously, the government said when it was being laid. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan (CUBA - Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY SOCIETY)
A Cuban migrant (L) holds a phone rented by a resident as other Cubans wait for their turn at the local internet cafe in Puerto Obaldia in the province of Guna Yala November 25, 2015. Thousands of Cubans remain stuck on the Costa Rican side of the border with Nicaragua after Managua refused at a regional summit on Tuesday to open its doors to a wave of migrants heading for the United States. According to the local migration office in Puerto Obaldia, more than 700 Cubans are waiting to leave as others continue to arrive in groups of 30 to 50 to continue their journey north from Panama. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
An autistic child attends a computer class at the Dora Alonso School in Havana April 29, 2013. The Dora Alonso School is a school specializing in treating children who suffer from autism spectrum disorders. The building housing the school was a military facility before the 1959 Cuban Revolution, and was inaugurated as a school for children with special needs ten years ago by Cuba's former President Fidel Castro. Picture taken April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa (CUBA - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY EDUCATION)
Informatics student William Campos, 18, sits on a rock as he uses the internet with his mobile phone in Havana, September 18, 2015. The United States on Friday issued regulations easing restrictions on American companies seeking to do business in Cuba and opening up travel in the latest action to weaken the U.S. trade embargo amid warming relations with the Communist country. The rules, which take effect on Monday, Sept. 21, target travel, telecommunications, Internet-based services, business operations and banking, and allow U.S. companies to establish a presence in Cuba. They also eliminate limits on the amount of money people can send back to the Caribbean nation. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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The truth is that most routers are, in fact, bad gadgets that generally fail to adequately perform in one of several ways. One of the most common failures is their inability to cover an entire house in a decent signal. There are reasons for this, and solutions (some better than others, to be honest), but the router itself isn't going to be much help in diagnosing or fixing those problems.

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