Wifi 2.4g vs 5G – a Very short Rebuke

My wife just pointed me to a YouTube video – on the surface, innocent advice about doubling your WiFi speed. It took me 30 seconds to realise just how bad that could turn out in the wrong hands. I won’t name names and I don’t know the fellow (he’s not the only one) but the article was entitled “This is how to make your WiFi 2x faster – absolutely free”.

In the video the fellow who made so many assumptions it beggars belief, suggested going into “Device Manager” in Windows – then “Network Adaptor” – “Properties” – “Advanced”. So far so good, at least in a not-too-old Windows PC or laptop, but he’s assuming you only have one network adaptor. I have one Ethernet network sdaptor in my PC – for wired network – and two WiFi adaptors. So there’s the first bad assumption. The NEXT bad assumption was that under”advanced” you’d have an option for “preferred band” – referring to the choice of 2.4Ghz Wifi or 5Ghz WiFi.

To write this short item, I checked my adaptors – one has no “preferred band” as it is 2.Ghz-ONLY WiFi. The other adaptor has an alternative “Band Selection” which in fact defaults to “dual band” and also offers “2.4Ghz only” and “5Ghz only”. For the record, my advice unless you know what you’re doing, stay away from this. 5Ghz Wifi can indeed be faster than 2.4Ghz WiFi but also typically has shorter range so you could find it to be actually SLOWER than 2.4Ghz.

In any case, making any changes would affect the PC only – not the rest of the network – and it also assumes your ROUTER is able to handle both bands – if not you could find your Windows PC or laptop with NO WiFi. There are a lot of routers out there which still only offer 2.4Ghz WiFi.

As an aside if anyone tried pulling a related stunt – i.e. turning off 2.4Ghz WiFi on a ROUTER, they could find the majority of their home control devices failing as for example ESP8266-based controllers will NOT work with 5Ghz WiFi.

In summary – unless you are an experienced tech, it is probably best to give messing with WiFi settings a miss!

Even those of us who’ve been using PCs for longer than they can remember, can still find themselves at their wit’s end when it comes to radio-based communication. Take Zigbee and 2.4Ghz WiFi as examples – I only just found out that RF coming off USB3-based devices/cables (my 2TB SSD and it’s cable+connector for example) can mess up both Zigbee and 2.4Ghz WiFi – but that’s covered in another blog entry. I kid you not, coincidentally my copper tape just arrived this morning, as I found out last week that adding an external SSD to my main router was interfering firstly with my 2.4Ghz WiFi and hence my various smart light and power controllers – then when I moved the SSD to my NAS in another part of the room, the WiFi recovered but the RF leak stopped my Zigbee network operating – thankfully blatantly. A load of kitchen foil around the USB3 cable and connector soon fixed both issues but LOOKS ridiculous. I’m hoping I can do a better job with adhesive copper tape – but that’s a whole other discussion.

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2 thoughts on “Wifi 2.4g vs 5G – a Very short Rebuke

  1. Don’t forget to make a tinfoil helmet! BTW I’m sure the Apple version of this problem is caused by their all-important “clean design” – resulting in the USB3 socket being too near the internal wifi antenna.

    1. Don’t worry I’m not about to go into alien abduction mode. The foil looks utterly ridiculous – but absolutely works. Got my adhesive copper foil now, about to take the plunge and replace the aluminium.

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