Why is my Home Wi-Fi so slow?

Snail drawing, vintage animal illustration

Before we start our discussion on this topic, lets first remember that Wi-Fi is a low powered radio. This point will inform most of what I will cover below.

Your home has not been designed with transmitting Wi-Fi signals in mind. In fact it tends to do its best to stop or slow Wi-Fi signals. Add to that, the low power these signals are transmitted at and their limited range then you start to see the issues.

So what’s the problem

Most homes have Wi-Fi and Internet as an afterthought. Of course the World Wide Web ( the Public Internet) only came into existence in 1993 and Wi-Fi in 1997, so that’s obvious.

When we add, that here in Australia the NBN has been run to households in the easiest methods we find that our houses are not optimal for a Wireless Signal. Let me explain.

Typical Home Internet connection

The Internet reaches most Australian households via the NBN. This connection will either be via a new NBN connection or through existing Phone or Cables1. In the most part these cables will enter the House

  • at the front, close to the street and the cable terminated at a wall connection there.
  • use previous phone connections and often terminating in a kitchen or bedroom (often at the front of a house also)

When we want to use the cable we have to attach NBN connection box then our Wi-Fi Router. Most people will agree, having these in a Bedroom or Kitchen is not ideal. So point one to note is that most of us have the equipment providing the Wi-Fi in a less than optimal location.

So where should the Wi-Fi Router be located?

To reduce signal loss optimally we should have our Wi-Fi router high (as high as practical) , not on the floor where I see so many. It should close to the main users and therefor preferably in the middle of the house. It should not be placed where its signals can be blocked or where interference can occur.

What Blocks or reduces the Wi-Fi Signal

Outdoors with no obstructions a Wi-Fi signal may work for about 200-300 meters, but indoors is a different matter. The Wi-Fi Signal will be blocked, absorbed, redirected or dampened by an number of things. For example:

  • Metal – Being a radio signal Metal will severely affect the Wi-Fi. So a refrigerator or metal filing cabinet will block, or reflect signals. Modern homes have metalized foil sarking in the external walls, this also can affect the signal moving through those walls. Placeing it in a metal box will stop the signal – see Faraday cage.
  • Concrete – like Metal thick concrete walls or will block the signal it is one of the worst building materials for wireless signals to pass through.
  • Bricks and Masonry – coming third on the list, these will reduce the signal significantly but not completely. However if insulation is include in such walls this will add to the signal loss.
  • Mirrors – Glass is mostly transparent to the radio signal BUT the reflective layer will reflect the signal much like metal objects.
  • Soft Furnishings, Carpet, People & Pets, Furniture, aquariums all absorb, reflect or dampen the signals.

What interferes with the Wi-Fi signal

Being a low powered radio signal Wi-Fi is easily effected by interference, some offenders will be:

  • Microwave Ovens – In operation the Microwave is probably THE worst offender. see – https://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/09/25/3595484.htm
  • Other Electrical Equipment, Cordless Phones, Baby Monitors, Radio transmitters, Fluorescent lights, – (the list is endless)
  • Other nearby Wi-Fi Networks. – Its possible for your Neighbors Wi-Fi to be operating on the same or similar frequencies, these can easily slow your network. make certain your router is operating on a different set of frequencies or channels.

1 I’ve excluded some special types of NBN for simplicity.

So where should it be placed?

Place your Wi-Fi Router on a hard, flat surface as high in the room as is reasonable. The Wi-Fi signal is radiated mostly on the horizontal so avoid the floor or low. Aim for height at least halfway between the floor and the ceiling. I have my main router on top of a cupboard.

  • Keep the WiFi Router out in the open – avoid placing inside cabinets or consoles as they will reduce the signal.
  • The fewer walls between the WiFi Router and your devices the better. Remember Wi-Fi is a low power radio signal, so thick walls and metal will reduce the signal.

I’ve done all that, but still I’ve bad Wi-Fi now what?

If you have done what you can then you may be left with contacting a professional to fix the problem.

What may be done?

Relocate the main wi-fi router

If the existing location is the issue the best option may be to relocate it within the property to a more central location. This may require additional cabling.

Include additional Wi-Fi access points in the premises

This can be implemented using Wireless repeater (or extender) of a Wi-Fi Mesh system. Repeaters are cheap and rebroadcast a wireless signal, strengthening the signal from your router to other floors or the opposite side of a building. You place one in a location that are halfway between your router and your device. (However be aware that the repeater must have a good signal to start with.) Research these products before investing in one. Some wireless repeaters can be difficult to configure and can actually reduce performance.

A Wi-Fi Mesh system usually is a better solution.

Mesh Wi-Fi systems offer better speeds than Wi-Fi repeaters because the mesh router and nodes are specially designed to create a unified Wi-Fi network. Mesh Wi-Fi systems are also very reliable.

replace older Wi-Fi routers

Occasionally the existing Wi-Fi router is the problem, and a simple replacement is all that’s is needed. However this can be an expensive and replacing it with a Wi-Fi Mesh is usually a better solution .

Find the Fake USB Drive with ValiDrive

Steve Gibson (GRC.com) has just released a new utility called VALIDRIVE to ID Fake drives. he says it will Quickly spot-check any USB mass storage drive for fraudulent deliberately missing storage. https://www.grc.com/validrive.htm

We all need this utility so many fakes out there.

As always with Steve’s utilities its well thought out and does what it says. As a plus not only doers it validate a USB drive but it tests the drives speed and reliability.

Add this one to your tools.

My first test of a 12 year old imation atom USB drive provided this useful report.

Report #1

  test date and time 12/10/2023  at  11:17 AM
  declared drive size 4,008,706,048 (4.01GB)
  validated drive size 4,008,706,048 (4.01GB)
  highest valid region 4,008,706,048 (4.01GB)
  hub or drive vendor imation
  hub or drive product atom
  serial number 079a0803380b2a96

Performance details

              read            write
  samples         1,152         1,152
  minimum       230,053       598,995
  maximum       873,225     1,061,347
  average       247,890       774,064
  median       241,402       766,097
  std dev        28,021        61,680
  variance         0.113         0.080
  total time   285,569,623   891,721,956
  percent        24.26%        75.74%

time measurements in microseconds

Wi-Fi – What

What is Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is a wireless radio technology used to connect computers, including tablets, smartphones, and other devices to the internet.  It is the radio signal sent from a wireless router to a nearby device, which translates the signal into data you can see and use. The device transmits a radio signal back to the router, which connects to the internet by wire or cable.

What is a Wi-Fi network?

A Wi-Fi network is simply an internet connection that’s shared with multiple devices in a home or business via a wireless router. The router is connected directly to your internet modem and acts as a hub to broadcast the internet signal to all your Wi-Fi enabled devices. This gives you flexibility to stay connected to the internet as long as you’re within your network coverage area.

What does Wi-Fi stand for?

Wi-Fi is a marketing term and is a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance.  It does not actually stand for anything, though “Wi-Fi” could have been a play on “hi-fi”.

Some simple points.

  • Wi-Fi and the Internet are two different things.  Wi-Fi is one method of connection to the internet.
  • Wi-Fi and your phones 3g, 4g or 5g mobile signals are also different.  These mobile signals connect you to a Mobile Phone Cell tower and it provides the internet to you. Yes, these mobile signals are Wireless Radio signals, but they are not Wi-Fi.
  • Wi-Fi is method of establishing a computer network and can be used without access to the internet. It is possible to have computers, printers etc at home connect to each other via Wi-Fi, without any Internet connection.
  • Wi-Fi is a Radio signal; therefore, it will be affected by interference and can be blocked (
  • Wi-Fi uses only a very low power and is easily disrupted or blocked

Hide a account from the Windows sign-in screen

Occassionally you may want a user account to not display on the Windows 10 logon page.

One main use case for me has been when setting up scanners to send direct to a PC share. In these cases I create a limited account with only the rights to that share. But the user account will display on the logon screen. So annoying!

So there are a few ways to do this.

  • Remove the account from the Group – Users (and Administrators) or any other interactive group
  • Make them a User of a Group that just gives access to the share you need – if available the HomeUsers Group works well
  • Editing the registry

If you have a User account that you dont want to display – say they only connect via a remote connection then editing the Registry is the answer.

Editing registry to hide an account

  1. Open registry editor
    • Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command,
    • Type regedit, and click OK to open the Windows Registry.
  2. Browse to:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
  3. Right-click the Winlogon, select New, and click Key.
  4. Name the new key SpecialAccounts.
  5. Right-click the SpecialAccounts key, select new, and click Key.
  6. Name the new key UserList.
  7. Inside of UserList, right-click, select New, and click DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  8. Name this DWORD key with the name of the account you’re intending to hide.
  9. Make sure the DWORD key has its data value is set to 0. (Zero Hide or change to 1 to show)

Important:
A hidden account can only access the PC via an interactive logon process. Such as a remote connection.
If you want to log onto the PC with a hidden account you will need to turn on Interactive Logon in windows 10. This turns off the simple logon process.

See Interactive Logon for details.

Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts

I’ve always said that Microsoft Windows has at least 3 ways of doing any action.  And that its up to the user to determine which is is the best method for their needs.

One of these methods is by using the Keyboard.

The following are a list of some of the many Keyboard shortcuts available.

Keyboard shortcut
Action
Windows key
Open or close Start Menu.
Windows key + A
Open Action center.
Windows key + C
Open Cortana in listening mode.
Windows key + D
Display and hide the desktop.
Windows key + E
Open File Explorer.
Windows key + G
Open Game bar when a game is open.
Windows key + H
Start dictation.
Windows key + I
Open Settings.
Windows key + K
Open the Connect quick action.
Windows key + L
Lock your PC or switch accounts.
Windows key + M
Minimize all windows.
Windows key + R
Open Run dialog box.
Windows key + S
Open Search.
Windows key + U
Open Ease of Access Center.
Windows key + X
Open Quick Link menu.
Windows key + Number
Open the app pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.
Windows key + Left arrow key
Snap app windows left.
Windows key + Right arrow key
Snap app windows right.
Windows key + Up arrow key
Maximize app windows.
Windows key + Down arrow key
Minimize app windows.
Windows key + Comma
Temporarily peek at the desktop.
Windows key + Ctrl +D
Add a virtual desktop.
Windows key + Ctrl + Left or Right arrow
Switch between virtual desktops.
Windows key + Ctrl + F4
Close current virtual desktop.
Windows key + Enter
Open Narrator.
Windows key + Home
Minimize all but the active desktop window (restores all windows on second stroke).
Windows key + PrtScn
Capture a screenshot and save in Screenshots folder.
Windows key + Shift + Up arrow
Stretch the desktop window to the top and bottom of the screen.
Windows key + Tab
Open Task view.
Windows key + “+” key
Zoom in using the magnifier.
Windows key + “-” key
Zoom out using the magnifier.
Ctrl + Shift + Esc
Open Task Manager.
Alt + Tab
Switch between open apps.
Alt + Left arrow key
Go back.
Alt + Right arrow key
Go foward.
Alt + Page Up
Move up one screen.
Alt + Page down
Move down one screen.
Ctrl + Alt +Tab
View open apps
Ctrl + C
Copy selected items to clipboard.
Ctrl + X
Cut selected items.
Ctrl + V
Paste content from clipboard.
Ctrl + A
Select all content.
Ctrl + Z
Undo an action.
Ctrl + Y
Redo an action.
Ctrl + D
Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin.
Ctrl + Esc
Open the Start Menu.
Ctrl + Shift
Switch the keyboard layout.
Ctrl + Shift + Esc
Open Task Manager.
Ctrl + F4
Close the active window.

Spinrite

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How to Run SpinRite in VirtualBox

see this article

How to Run SpinRite in VirtualBox