WiFi Extender vs. Booster: What’s the Best Choice for You?

By: Mack Hayden  | 
Over the shoulder view someone connecting to the mobile wifi in hotel room
One of the greatest joys of WiFi networks is the journey in connecting to them — kidding, we actually prefer when connecting is as easy as possible. Here are a couple tools that can help. Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

Whether you're streaming your favorite shows, participating in virtual meetings or just browsing the internet, the quality of your WiFi network plays a crucial role in your overall online experience. WiFi signal issues can be frustrating — but luckily, there are multiple tools you can use to improve WiFi coverage.

Here, we'll review WiFi extender vs. booster pros and cons to see which works best for you. But first, let's talk about what causes WiFi issues in the first place!

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WiFi Signal Issues and Solutions

While wireless coverage has improved quite a bit over the last few decades, it still comes with hiccups. Here are some ways to spot where and how you can make fixes.

Identifying Weak WiFi Signal Areas

Before deciding on a solution, it's important to identify why you have a weak WiFi signal in your home or business. All sorts of things can interfere with WiFi signals. Here are some steps to diagnose and improve your WiFi performance.

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  1. Check for physical obstructions. Furniture and other objects can interfere with your WiFi signal. Move your WiFi router to a more central location and away from obstructions.
  2. Update your router’s firmware. Ensure your router firmware is up-to-date to benefit from the latest performance improvements and security features.
  3. Use a WiFi analyzer app. These apps help you find the best WiFi channel for your router, minimizing interference from other networks.
  4. Move devices away from walls. Position your WiFi devices away from walls and other barriers to improve signal strength.

Pinpointing Dead Spots and Dropped Connections

Dead spots and dropped connections issues occur when the WiFi signal is too weak to reach certain areas, causing interruptions in your internet connection. You can eliminate them with the help of a WiFi booster or extender to provide better coverage and a more stable connection.

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How WiFi Extenders Work

WiFi extenders amplify your existing WiFi signal, extending coverage to areas with weak or no signal. They work by grabbing the existing WiFi signal and rebroadcasting it, effectively expanding the coverage area.

Incorrect placement of a WiFi extender can affect its performance. Place it halfway between your router and the area with a weak signal for optimal coverage.

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How WiFi Boosters Work

WiFi boosters, also known as wireless range extenders, amplify weak WiFi signals and extend them to cover a larger area. They improve signal strength and eliminate dead spots in larger homes or businesses. If that sounds similar to an extender, that's because it is!

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What's the Difference Between WiFi Extenders and WiFi Boosters?

They do the same thing but in different ways: The main difference is that WiFi extenders work by capturing an existing WiFi signal from your router and rebroadcasting it to create a new network to cover areas with weak or no signal, whereas boosters just, well, boost your current network.

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Choosing the Right WiFi Solution for You

When deciding between a WiFi extender and a WiFi booster (aka wireless range extender), consider the following factors.

  1. Check your existing signal strength. WiFi extenders focus on providing a more stable connection overall. WiFi boosters improve bandwidth and signal strength, but the quality of the signal received by the WiFi repeater is the same as the signal distributed.
  2. Consider the size of the area to cover. WiFi extenders can provide wireless network extension with MoCA technology, improving coverage and signal strength. WiFi boosters can extend a WiFi signal to cover a larger area, but multiple units may be necessary.
  3. Evaluate how many devices you need. Think about the number of WiFi devices that need to connect to your network and their capabilities.

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Understanding Your WiFi Performance

Figuring out which option is right for you is also contingent on your overall internet setup. These are just a few other important things to keep in mind.

The Role of a Wireless Router

A wireless router is the heart of your home network, responsible for distributing the wireless signal throughout your space. It connects to your modem and broadcasts the WiFi network to all your connected devices. The main router plays a critical role in ensuring that your internet connection is stable and efficient.

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How WiFi Repeaters Can Help

A WiFi repeater can also enhance the coverage of your existing WiFi network. It does that by duplicating the wireless signal from your main router and basically creates a secondary network to expand your coverage beyond what your current router allows for.

The Importance of Ethernet Cables and Ports

While wireless solutions are convenient, wired connections via ethernet cables can provide a more stable and faster connection for certain applications. Connecting a wired device directly to your router using an ethernet cable ensures minimal interference and optimal performance.

Most wireless routers and wireless repeaters have ethernet ports that allow you to connect devices such as smart TVs, gaming consoles and desktop computers directly to the network, improving their connection stability and speed.

Optimizing Your Network With Different WiFi Channels

WiFi interference can significantly impact your network performance. Using a different WiFi channel can reduce interference from neighboring networks. Most current routers allow you to switch channels to find the one with the least interference.

Ensuring Seamless Connectivity for All Devices

For the best performance, ensure that all your connected devices are compatible with your network setup. Modern wireless routers and range extenders support multiple devices simultaneously, ensuring that all your devices receive a strong and stable connection.

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