Truth About WiFi Booster Apps and Software
We’ve had various requests for reviews on some of the WiFi booster software people have found and sent to us. I’ve avoided mentioning this because I know someone is going to see the title and get excited. But the truth is there is not really much you can do with these rubbish apps flooding the app store.
Don’t worry. We will also point out some hardware and software which you can actually use.
And I know. I’ve seen the “news” posts about the 15 best WiFi booster app choices for Android. But it’s kind of like saying I have a top ten list for ways to get hit by a car. Sure there’s a list – but you’re not going to like any of them.
Most of our time is spent setting up or improving wireless networks in homes and offices. If there was a mobile app or some software for a computer which would just boost the signal then life would be a lot easier. In the meantime we’ll look at a couple of these “apps” and some things you really can do to boost your WiFi signal.
The Google Play Store (and to a lesser extend the Apple App Store) have tons of supposed WiFi booster apps. They make some cool promises and have thousands of downloads from people desperate to believe it can improve their WiFi network. What they don’t have is any basis in reality.
What these Booster Apps Really Do
Aside from the usual (billing your card and/or filling your phone with ads and other rubbish apps) they don’t do an awful lot. I don’t want to say nothing… but most of them pretty much do nothing. I’ve seen a lot which are purely just randomised numbers. You push a button and it tells you that the signal has been boosted by a random number % and then charges you.
I know I come off cynical here but it’s because false promises irks me. Especially when they’re profiting from it.
Some like the Wifi Speed Booster (one of the more popular apps sadly) claims to get you twice the internet speed at the click of a button by stopping background data. I mean sure if you’re running a lot of background data that can change your internet speed but both Android and Apple give you easy ways to control which apps are allowed to use background data. Not to mention you can just close any apps you don’t want using up data and doing this will prevent things like Facebook and WhatsApp from functioning in the background (which you probably want) and won’t really increase speed by a noticeable amount.
So pretty pointless but at least in theory it tries to help. It doesn’t do anything useful and you won’t notice a speed difference but at least it tries. Others literally do nothing useful.
The WiFi Signal Strength (hailed as one of the top 3 WiFi booster apps – really?) does something incredibly clever and boosts your… No, I joke it literally just shows the signal strength to the network you’re connected to. Yes – the exact same thing as any phone will do by default.
The app page makes it look like it was responsible from changing that 68% signal to 99% but all it actually does is show you the signal strength. So if you want a better signal you need to change network or get closer to the wireless router. Ground-breaking.
So you see why I mock these WiFi booster apps right?
But, as promised, there are some things you can do to improve your WiFi signal. Just stop installing these useless apps.
The easiest and most effective way to boost a WiFi signal is to use a WiFi repeater. Any time we’re installing a wireless network this is our main answer to weak connections.
If you’re looking for WiFi apps then it is a safe bet you can’t upgrade hardware on the device itself. Few (if any) phones or tablets will let you connect a stronger wireless card and you’re also probably not always connecting to your own network which means upgrading the wireless router is out of the question.
This leaves repeaters as the only real hardware choice (they usually make the best first choice anyway).
Made to purpose these devices actually have the hardware to get a strong wireless signal and create a new one. This is exactly what a good WiFi booster app would do if a phone or tablet actually had that kind of hardware. The difference is repeaters are actually designed for this purpose with the hardware and software to receive a strong wireless signal and then create a second one which your other devices can connect to.
Repeaters have a better chance at connecting to the original wireless router because they’re not trying to balance power consumption like phones and tablets are built to do (great when you’re running low on battery but not so handy when you really need to get online). Their hardware is built for a strong connection and the new network it creates can be connected to from a decent range so you can position the repeater elsewhere if needed.
We’ll look at a few other things you can do but repeaters are the most effective and easiest by far.
WiFi Booster Software Uses
There is nothing an app or software can do to boost your signal by themselves but some of them can serve a purpose in helping to improve your wireless signals. They do this by helping you survey your wireless network to pinpoint problem areas and what you can do about them.
There are phone/tablet apps which can somewhat help with this as well but the computer based software is just more encompassing which makes it easier to pinpoint your wireless problems. WiFi apps can use your phones (hadware limited) wireless card to see the basics of other networks in your area. Handy for switching channel or frequencies or channels to get some wireless distance from your neighbours but that’s pretty much it.
But software like Netspot helps you map and visualise your wireless network helping you to make the most of it.
This is not software where you click a button and all of a sudden your wireless network is double the strength. We’ve established by now that this is just not a thing. But it can help you establish the best place to put your wireless router to remove an obstacle or where to place a wireless repeater to cover the most ground.
Sometimes a small positioning change will be enough to get a strong WiFi signal and software like this means you don’t have to muck around with a bunch of trial and error hoping to stumble into the right positioning. Blind luck can work as well but it can take a few hours of constantly moving things around whereas decent software like this can give you the information you need.
Phone Setting Changes
If new hardware or decent software wasn’t the answer you were looking for there are a few things you can try do change on your phone or tablet. These are generally not going to make a big improvement if any but they can help get an extra bit of WiFi Signal.
- Go into Settings – Wi-Fi – Advanced – Wi-Fi Frequency and tap auto. Your phone might have slightly different settings but basically you want to make sure your phone is using 5 GHz when possible and not just the old 2.4 GHz.
Connect to a stronger wireless signal. I’m going to assume you’ve tried this one already but I’ll mention it just in
- Update your firmware. While you can’t upgrade the hardware in your phone or tablet (not easily anyway) you can update the software. Run an update check to make sure you have the latest because the manufacturer may have provided more wireless options or just improved the performance of the existing ones.
- Remove the case. Some tablet or phone cases will block your WiFi signal. Try to avoid dropping your device while doing this but you might notice a speed difference before and after.
Useful WiFi Apps
Out of all the hundreds of WiFi booster apps and booster software options I’ve seen. Netspot is about the only really useful software worth looking at and even then that’s to help you move the hardware around or find the best place to install new ones.
There are some alternative WiFi apps you might consider though.
Plenty of apps (and some default firmware’s) allow you to tether your data signal into a wireless hotspot. This means other devices can connect to a wireless network created by your phone or tablet and access the internet from there. Just keep in mind this is limited by your devices data connection and can run up usage fee’s.
There are also apps like WeFi and WiFinder which has a user led database of free WiFi networks in major cities. If a library or shop offers free WiFi and is listed there it gives you another place to connect from. Not ideal – but then again neither is not having an internet connection at all.
At the end of the day a weak WiFi signal is a hardware problem and requires a hardware answer and until they make a WiFi booster app which pops an antenna out of the top of my phone there’s not a lot of other options.