Is Your USB Wi-Fi Dongle Lagging? 3 Ways to Fix It

If you’re using a USB dongle that allows your desktop to receive a Wi-Fi connection, you may have noticed that your internet speeds are slower than expected. In some cases, a lot slower. Unfortunately, this is a common problem for USB Wi-Fi dongles.

The good thing is, you can make your USB Wi-Fi adapter faster. In this article, we’ll show you three tips to help speed up your slow Wi-Fi dongle.


Why Is Your USB Wi-Fi Adapter So Slow?

The common culprit for slowing your USB Wi-Fi adapter is your other wireless devices. Wireless devices transmit data using frequencies, and these frequencies are invisible, but they have their own distinct shapes. The problem occurs when two or more devices transmit data using the same frequency shapes (i.e., on the same frequency channel).

The two common frequency bands are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Unfortunately, a very limited number of frequency channels are available in the 2.4GHz range—and most wireless peripherals transmit on 2.4GHz, including Bluetooth, Logitech USB dongles, and more. They’re all on the same wireless spectrum, which leads to wireless congestion and dysfunction.

To illustrate, here’s what the 2.4GHz spectrum looks like:

Notice how there are only three channels (1, 6, and 11) that do not overlap with one another. Therefore, if you use multiple devices on the 2.4GHz frequency, your wireless internet speeds simply aren’t optimal, and consumer electronics suffer majorly from these overlapping frequencies.

When two devices transmit on overlapping channels, their transmissions can interfere, resulting in sluggish performance, limited range, and lag.

Why is it this way? Well, when the 2.4GHz spectrum first came into use, engineers never predicted that the average home would come to include dozens of different Wi-Fi signals. That’s one reason why the 5GHz band was invented, and most recently, the 6GHz Wi-Fi band.

So how can you fix this issue? There are three methods you can try.

1. Use a USB Extender

The simplest option is to use a USB extender. The main benefit here is that USB extenders allow you to reposition the location of your USB wireless adapter.

Not only does channel overlap cause dongles to misbehave, it’s also cumulative when combined with the radio-frequency-blocking properties of a computer case or metal laptop. Almost universally, repositioning the dongle improves the dongle’s performance.

In fact, some dongle manufacturers include an extender by default for this reason. For example, BrosTrend’s Long Range USB Wi-Fi Adapter includes a five feet extension USB cable.

Amazon stocks a large number of USB extenders, cradles, docks, and hubs. Any one of these options will improve your Wi-Fi dongle performance—but the best will tilt the dongle at a vertical angle, which maximizes the dongle’s exposure to wireless frequencies.

Even better, it shouldn’t use a metal case, which can interfere with wireless signals. A good example is IVETTO’s 7-Port USB Data Hub, which possesses all the aforementioned characteristics and can connect up to seven devices.

However, if you want more functionality out of your hub, check out TSUPY’s USB 3.0 Hub. It throws in a microSD and TF card reader.

2. Change Your Wi-Fi Router Channel

Different Wi-Fi router channels have a varied number of non-overlapping channels. For instance, Wireless-N and Wireless-G routers divide into 11 different overlapping channels, and while Bluetooth devices automatically change their channel to the least-used frequency, many other devices do not.

On top of that, changing how a Wi-Fi dongle transmits data is impossible. So when conflicts arise, the only option is to change the channel that your router broadcasts on. You should check out our guide on how to adjust Wi-Fi channels for the full details.

3. Get a Dual-Band or Tri-Band Router

Buying a new router is by far the most expensive option, but it’s highly recommended for apartment-dwellers because it has the highest rate of success in boosting slow Wi-Fi dongle speeds.

As mentioned above, most routers broadcast signals on either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. While the 2.4GHz band offers three non-overlapping channels, the 5GHz band produces a whopping 24 non-overlapping channels. 6GHz steps a mile further with more channels. Combined with the other benefits of using 5GHz or 6GHz, you’ll notice a big boost in performance.

However, you would also need to make sure that most, if not all, of your other devices can use the 5GHz or 6GHz spectrum. If few or none do, you won’t benefit from using a dual-band router.

Also, if you’re experiencing problems with a wireless adapter USB dongle, a new router would only make sense if the Wi-Fi dongle itself is also dual-band. Otherwise, it will continue broadcasting and receiving over the same problematic portion of the wireless spectrum.

We recommend buying the TP-Link Dual-Band Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 Router, which offers solid performance, and Wi-Fi 6, the latest wireless band. Then again, if you want to take your home network to the next level, try out the ASUS ROG Rapture Wi-Fi 6E Tri-Band Router, one of the best routers for long-range uses.

What’s the Best Way to Fix a Lagging Wi-Fi Dongle?

You might be tempted to try the free option first, changing your router channels, before buying either a USB hub or a dual- or tri-band channel router. That’s a reasonable route to take.

However, rather than playing with your router’s settings (which can cause additional problems), you might get more mileage out of just buying a USB extender or hub. They’re considerably cheap but have the best chance of quickly fixing your problems.

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