DON’T DO THIS: Play “hide the router”

Look I have to get past this part first: Even though I operate a family-friendly blog, “playing ‘hide the router'” sounds like a game for adult IT people. It’s not. I’m being literal. Now, onto the serious part of this blog entry.

This happened to someone I know

A while back, I was visiting someone I know and they were complaining about poor Wi-Fi. It didn’t take me long to figure out why. First thing, they’d hidden the router behind a bunch of pillows. They didn’t like the look of it, and they didn’t want to see it. What they didn’t realize was that at some point someone must have sat on it, or something like that. The outer plastic case was crushed and the antennas were broken. That was the problem.

I get it. Routers are, by and large, ugly. And the worst part about them is that today’s routers are actually larger and uglier than the ones in years past. The late-2000s drive to hide antennas and create sleek, sexy-looking routers was a mistake, because a sleek router with a hidden antenna is almost always going to be less effective than one with six weird paddle-shaped antennas protruding from it. When it really comes down to it, if you’re going to share your home with a router, you want it to work, right?

So, like, don’t hide it. Simple as that.

I’ve seen too many homes where people complain of poor Wi-Fi and then you found out that they put the router in a sock drawer or behind the TV or whatever. Folks, a router wants to fly free! It’s going to do its best work when it has plenty of airflow around it, and when it’s not hidden behind a bunch of metal that blocks the signals it’s trying to detect. I’m not saying you have to put your router out on your coffee table as some sort of conversation piece, but let me tell you… if you did that you would be flat-out amazed by how well it would work.

Everyone complains about slow internet and cable companies make a lot of money getting people to upgrade to faster speeds. The truth is, a lot of these people just need to move the router so it’s not behind that silver picture frame with a nice old picture of Uncle Nat and Aunt Selma. They may have been your favorites growing up, but they’re blocking your internet access now. Not that it’s their fault, they’re not the ones who put the router there.

An ugly necessity

There are a lot of you out there who consider routers an ugly necessity and I get that. They interfere with your feng shui (if you’re that sort). They just don’t seem to match your decor. I have bad news for you — unless your decor is based largely on the late-1970s film Alien a router is just never going to fit it. A well-designed router is going to look like a black box with a random-looking selection of antennas popped out all over the place. Don’t blame the messenger, that’s just how routers are going to look. But please, avoid your natural tendency to hide your router because you think it’s ugly. Trust me, once you’re getting blazing-fast speeds, you won’t even notice how ugly the router is. You’ll be binge-watching at the same time your kid is downloading some game off XBox Live. You won’t have time to consider the aesthetic consequences, you’ll simply be too busy enjoying.

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About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.