The internet has now become an integral part of society and our daily lives as well. It is used as both our primary medium of entertainment, our way to connect to our friends and family, and for some, a vital element of their job.
With everything going wireless nowadays, WiFi routers have also become a necessary commodity. Most homes today will likely have a router installed. But with our shift towards a completely wireless world comes specific issues as well. For one, wireless routers are still susceptible to signal range issues.
Homes with several rooms and walls will cause router signal to drop significantly. So, what can you do to circumvent such problems? Other than buying a more powerful router, which can cost a couple of hundred bucks, you can also use your older router as a range extender.
In this article, we will be going through the steps on how you can transform your old router into a WiFi signal booster to improve the range of your router.
Before we begin, I would like to stress that this is not a perfect solution to a weak WiFi signal. Think of it’s as a cost-effective alternative that will do what is needed for the time being. This is also a pretty practical solution. Now, let’s begin transforming your old router in a WiFi range booster, shall we?
Step 1: Check to see if your old router is compatible for the job
First thing’s first, you have to check if your old router can be converted into a signal repeater/extender. If it can be used as a signal extender, then great news, but what it doesn’t?
Don’t worry as there is a possible way to skirt around this issue.
However, I should warn you about “g” generation routers (802.11b) as these are not ideal to become extenders. Due to its limited bandwidth, using this version of routers will cause your internet speed to get stifled, which will then manifest in noticeable slowdowns. To avoid this problem, only use routers that are from the 802.11n generation and above.
In the instance that your router does not have the default capability to run as a repeater, you can check if it supports custom firmware such as the DD-WRT. If it can, then there is a considerably high chance you can convert your old router into an extender.
Step 2: Set up your old router
Now, we need to begin the configuration of the old router. The first order of business is to update the DD-WRT firmware to the latest version. Check the DD-WRT’s official website to find the compatible version for your router, download and install the appropriate custom firmware.
When completed, log in to your router’s web interface.
The URL will depend on the router you have, but most will use the address 192.168.1.1. The login credentials will most likely return to default. Check online for the default admin credentials of your router model or check the label on the unit for the necessary info. Once logged in, make sure to update your username and password to something stronger.
For those who have forgotten their old username and password, you can reset the router to its factory setting. This can be done by pressing and holding on the recessed button (the small pin-sized hole on the unit) for 20 to 30 seconds.
In the configuration screen, click the Wireless menu and open the Advanced Setup and Wireless Repeating section. Start with the 2.4GHz sub-menu and double-check to see if the username and password all match with your primary network. Once you are sure everything is in order, click the Enable Wireless Repeating Function and then the Wireless Repeater.
You may also like to read about: Netgear Ac750 wifi Range Extender
Step 3: Input the static address
This step will be slightly more complicated. Choosing the static address for the range-booster should be handled carefully. I take the primary router’s address and change the last digit by adding one. This will help you distinguish that this static address is part of the same LAN structure. You should also make a habit of writing down all static addresses you use to avoid confusion in the future.
Now, you need to set the subnet mask. This one is pretty simple as you need to copy the default subnet mask which you can find on the same screen as your base IP address. If you don’t know what the subnet mask is, it usually looks like this: 255.255.255.0. Just copy this over to the range-booster router.
Before exiting, make sure that the box for the Disable Wireless Client Association setting is unchecked. Input the base router’s MAC address which you can typically find on the label of the router or in the manual.
Note: The same steps also apply to 5GHz dual-band routers.
Step 4: Do a test run of your router extender
Now that you have configured the router and converted it into an extender, it’s time to test it out. Pick an area that you consider has the weakest WiFi signal in your residence and plug the router extender there.
Bring your smartphone with you and turn on your new (old?) WiFi extender. Try to go online and run Speedtest.net to see if everything is gravy with the bandwidth. Don’t be discouraged if you get terrible results with the speed test. It will take some time finding the “sweet spot” for your extender, but you’ll get there. Also, you might want to prepare an extension cord for this step as well.
Keep in mind that not all routers are made equal. This step by step guide uses a Netgear router and with its Netgear Genie feature, made its transition into an extender quite easy and straightforward. However, the steps we indicated here are pretty much the general procedure you will go through for this task.
Now, that you have significantly boosted the range of your wireless router, enjoy non-stop internet browsing no matter where you are at home.