How to Fix Wi-Fi Lag

Do not place your router inside a cabnet or closed shelf.
... Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Even on the best of high-speed connections, the Internet will sometimes lag. Most of the time, this lag is due to remote server issues and resolves without requiring intervention. If you're consistently or repeatedly experiencing lag when using a wireless connection, however, you may have a problem with your router. To solve the issue, try reconnecting, moving either your computer or router to achieve a better connection or changing to a different Wi-Fi channel.

1 Move Closer to Your Router

Even if your Wi-Fi signal is strong enough to avoid disconnections, it may still impact connection speed. The farther the distance between your wireless router and your computer, the slower the connection. A standard 2.4 GHz router can transmit about 100 to 150 feet, but computers at the extreme of this range will slow down significantly, with maximum potential speeds about one-fiftieth of those adjacent to the router.

2 Place Your Router Differently

In addition to moving your computer when possible, you may need to move your router. A Wi-Fi signal can travel through most interior walls, but those containing thick materials such as concrete, brick or metal will block the signal prematurely. Other potential obstructions include ceramic, mirrors and aquariums. Place your router away from these materials and as centrally in your home as possible.

3 Change Your Channel

Wi-Fi routers use radio waves, and like AM/FM radio signals, these signals can interfere with one another. If your computer is within range of multiple routers, try changing the channel on yours to avoid interference. Channels one, six and 11 overlap with the fewest other channels, so use one of these options. You can change your wireless channel in your router's setup utility, accessed through a program on your computer or a website -- check your router's manual for specific directions. In areas with heavy interference, such as apartment buildings, you might want to buy a router that runs at 5 GHz, as fewer devices use this frequency.

4 Reset Your Connection

Though cliche, resetting your wireless connection can actually solve occasional, unexplained lag. If you're experiencing lag only on one computer, disconnect and reconnect to the network -- on Windows 8, press "Windows-I," press the network icon and toggle Airplane Mode on and off. If you're having trouble on multiple computers, unplug your router, wait a few seconds and plug it back in. Your computers will automatically reconnect after a minute or two.

5 Lag From Other Sources

Even if you connect using Wi-Fi, your problem may not be due to a lagging wireless connection. As a test, try connecting a computer directly to your cable or DSL modem via Ethernet. If it still lags, your Wi-Fi router isn't to blame. Instead, take steps including rebooting the modem, checking your computer for viruses and contacting your Internet service provider to have your line quality tested.

Aaron Parson has been writing about electronics, software and games since 2006, contributing to several technology websites and working with NewsHour Productions. Parson holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.