Boost my in-law's WiFi signal (from 1500 miles away)
February 19, 2013 11:59 AM Subscribe
My father-in-law needs help connecting his Windows 7 laptop to a WiFi network; he is apparently dealing with an interference issue that stops him from connecting while at home. This is complicated by the fact that I am 1500 miles away and will not be able to help in person. He is not tech savvy. Suggestions?
posted by caution live frogs to computers & internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In-laws are in Texas during the winter. They live in a retirement community with WiFi. There is a WiFi access point right next to their home. They cannot connect to it. If they go across the street, their computer connects just fine, so I know it isn't a problem with whether the computer works or not.
I know nothing about the park network, but pretty safe to assume that it's b/g/n with a required password.
Their winter home is a trailer underneath a permanent roof. Their neighbor suspects the roof itself is blocking the signal due to the way it was constructed. In addition, their laptop is pretty inexpensive, so it could be a weak internal WiFi antenna. Last I knew, when they arrived it worked, but after more neighbors arrived at the park for the season and begin using WiFi, they couldn't connect.
Option 1 is an external WiFi adapter that can pull a better signal. I worry that adding a second WiFi adapter will cause more headaches. I haven't ever added a USB adapter to a laptop that already had working WiFi. It will be extremely difficult to walk him through disabling the internal adapter. Plus, unless Windows is smart enough to re-enable it automatically, he will call me asking why WiFi no longer works if he leaves home without the USB adapter.
I would much prefer Option 2, having him set up a WiFi to wired bridge. Can you do this on a network you don't control? As long as it is possible to choose the right SSID and set the password on the bridge using a web interface, then he should be plug and play with an ethernet cable. This seems like the simplest option as he could move the device to anywhere it gets a good signal, would not have to make any changes to internal devices on the laptop, and most problems would be solvable by power-cycling the device.
My father-in-law is not thrilled about it but is willing to spend $30-$50 to get online. Given that I am not there to either help him select a device or get it set up, I don't want him buying anything that a teenager at Best Buy foisted off on him. I am more than happy to buy something off Amazon/NewEgg, for example, and have it shipped to him, but I don't want him stuck with a device that won't help or can't be configured by a tech-illiterate senior citizen.
Asking here for hardware recommendations, keeping high ease of use and low cost as the two primary goals here.