Need to stay connected on the road? Boost your computer’s wifi signal by 200+ yards using a cheap and powerful external wifi antenna.
As a full-time digital nomad who works from his computer around the world, strong wireless internet connections are critical to my lifestyle. While I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the availability of wifi in many countries, there are definitely times when I wished my MacBook’s wifi card was more powerful.
Like when I need to upload high-resolution photos or video for work projects.
Sometimes hostel, hotel, or cafe wifi connections can be weak or spotty depending on how close you are to the source.
Stronger Wifi Signals
I’ve discovered a fantastic solution to my relentless wifi addiction. You can buy a wifi range extender for your laptop, like the TP-Link N300 Wifi Antenna.
This ingenious little piece of computer equipment rocks. It increases my laptop’s WiFi signal strength 3 to 5 times — I’m able to locate many more open wireless networks than with my computer’s internal wireless card.
A folding directional antenna helps pick up the best signal and maximizes my chances for connecting to the internet in remote locations.
Eight Networks To Thirty Eight!
For example, I’m currently basing myself from Bangkok, Thailand to get work done. With my Macbook Pro’s internal wifi card I can pick up 8 different signals nearby. But with my external wifi antenna, I can see 38 networks. That’s a big difference!
What Are The Benefits?
There are 2 primary situations when having a wifi antenna helps greatly. The first is when I’m staying at a hotel, guesthouse, or hostel and the wifi signal doesn’t reach my room.
Maybe there’s only one router, and it’s in a public area. Connecting my external wifi antenna allows me to work from the comfort of my room with a powerful signal. The range seems to be a few hundred yards depending on how many walls/buildings are in between.
The other situation is when I find the perfect cafe to work at (ambience, coffee, prices, food, comfort), but their wifi connection sucks. However maybe there is a cafe down the street with a much better connection. Using my wifi antenna, I can connect to the 2nd cafe’s fast wifi, while working from the cafe I actually prefer.
It may not seem like much, but finding a decent workspace with good wifi is very important for my productivity when working on the road.
WiFi Antenna Booster
The extended range of this external wifi card has saved my ass on quite a few occasions while traveling. Because the boosted wifi signal is so much stronger, I’m frequently using it even when my internal card sees some of the same connections.
A 20% network signal suddenly becomes a 99% signal after hooking up my TP-Link wifi antenna.
For convenience, I’ve used velcro to attach the wifi antenna to my laptop, so I can easily walk around with it. I also bought an ultra short USB cable for it to keep things tidy.
Setting Up Your Wifi Antenna
For Window’s users, setup for a TP-Link wifi antenna is pretty straightforward. It should already come with the proper drivers for plug & play installation.
But for Mac users, setup is a bit more complicated.
You need a special driver for it to work on your Apple. I use OSX 10.10 Yosemite, and it works for me after downloading and installing the driver found here. It’s the one called “TL-WN822N_V3_MacOS10.8″.
Next, restart your computer and plug in your wifi antenna. Open the “Wireless Network Utility” program if it doesn’t open by itself. Check available networks and connect to one, you may need to enter a password twice at the bottom.
Save frequently used networks so you don’t need to input passwords each time. Do this under “Add To Profile”.
I hope you enjoy your new boosted wifi signal! ★
Product: TP-Link N300 Wifi Antenna
Useful Notes: Not only is this wifi antenna cheap, it’s also surprisingly small & lightweight. You won’t need it all the time, but when you do, you’ll be very happy to have it. I sure am!
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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.