Can Too Many Devices Slow Down Or Crash Your Wi-Fi Router?

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Take a look at your digital space. Chances are, you have more than one ‘smart’ device – phone, watch, TV, or home assistant. That’s in addition to any computers, printers, or tablets you use for daily tasks. These devices can make life easier, but can too many devices slow down or crash your wi-fi router?

With the internet taking up such a big space in our lives, it’s possible they can end up making your router feeling a tad “overwhelmed”. The result – an overburdened, slow Wi-Fi that you just can’t rely on. Meanwhile, you can’t help thinking about the promising capacity that was sold to you along with your Wi-Fi router.

While modern routers can provide for single-point access for up to 250 devices at a time, this number is elusive. What we are looking at are devices with varying bandwidth. Additionally, they have to share the same wireless network and internet connection provided by your broadband service provider. 

Can Too Many Devices Actually “Crash” Your Router?

Having too many connected devices will not necessarily crash your Router, but it can definitely have an impact on performance and connectivity. Issues will generally include delayed load times, buffering, latency and occasionally having to reconnect devices to compete for bandwidth.

In order to better illustrate, let’s have a look at what “digital congestion” means for your wi-fi enabled devices.

Each device that sends signals to the same access point takes up bandwidth on a Wi-Fi network. Typically, only one device can use up a slice of the network at a time. If 2 or more devices begin to take up space, either one or both will not be able to perform smoothly. At one point, the different devices begin to take turns. They wait for any ongoing communication with one device to stop or pause before they can send their signal.

Now, the more devices using the same internet connection, the longer it can take for each device to go through the line until they get to their turn. Get too many devices, and the wait can go so long as to cause timeouts and call drops. 

Simply put, the performance of a shared internet connection will begin to falter as more devices and computers try to access the Wi-Fi connection simultaneously.

Pair this with device firmware that is just not capable of handling the load, and they are prone to malfunctioning when left to run for too long. 

To add insult to injury, some electronics come with a low-grade access point that isn’t robust and just die out on you within a year or two. The first telltale signs begin with the bandwidth being off-center and failing, leading to a weakened signal-catching and transmitting capacity. They struggle to pick up on your device, as well as send out the necessary connection to allow it to run smoothly.

Too Many Devices Slowing Down Your Wi-Fi?

One thing is for certain, having too many devices actively competing for internet access can slow down your router’s WiFi. With Wi-Fi being used for all online activities, a solid network is more of a necessity than ever before. Having your Wi-Fi jammed with too much traffic is not uncommon, but is a problem you can’t ignore.

Wi-Fi routers can get full – not just with activity, but also with other issues that slow it down. Some other reasons that cause Wi-Fi routers to slow down, and affect speed are:

  • Unknown users or devices: Carrying the weight of too many devices, some of which are not even your own, can go unplanned while you set up your Wi-Fi connection and can cause disruptions.
  • Low Bandwidth: Even when the load on your network doesn’t seem unusual, sometimes you may face slow or patchy connectivity. Consider upgrading your Wi-Fi service to suit your demands. Connection with a larger bandwidth can handle personal and work use.
  • Interference in Network: Sometimes radio frequency from household devices like microwaves can interfere with the Wi-Fi, causing connectivity issues.

Are you concerned that too many devices are allowing your connection? Check to see how many devices are actually connected. You will probably be surprised!

Remember though, unless a connected device is actively streaming data it probably doesn’t impact significantly the performance of the wireless. This means that while your smart home appliances are connected to Wi-Fi, they may not be having an impact unless the connection is in use.

How To Increase Your Speed When You Have Too Many Connected Devices

In some households, especially with multiple devices streaming at a time, speed is certainly going to become an issue. WiFi performance will decline when more users and devices are added to the network. Here are some ways to resolve this issue:

  • Installing a second router or network booster helps to distribute the network load. This creates space to accommodate more devices and add more access points if needed.
  • Contact your internet service provider (ISP) to increase the speed of your service. Your internet provider can advise on bandwidth needs based on how many devices you have in your home and what you use them for.
  • Plan your internet usage wisely. Coordinate your and your family members’ activities, keeping in mind peak time. This means downloading larger files or content overnight, or outside of peak hours.
  • Mesh networks can improve wireless connectivity at home. Instead of a single router, a mesh network uses multiple routers to distribute the Wi-Fi over a larger area.

How Many Devices Can You Connect To Your Wi-Fi?

Most wireless routers can technically have up to about 250 devices connected at a time, however, this number varies quite a bit. The difference in speed and capacity between routers depends on the manufacturer and specs of the router. Generally speaking, the number of possible connected devices will far exceed the needs of a typical home.

Again, you’ll probably run into performance issues before reaching a physical limit of devices for your router. That being said, if you have a lot idle devices and smart home equipment, you may have the opposite problem.

Keep in mind that each device that’s added to your network reduces the bandwidth available to the other devices. Many router manufacturers are beginning to put a cap on the number of devices allowed to connect. 

For instance, a single-band router (Linksys) can connect up to 32 devices, and a dual-band (Netgear Nighthawk) can connect up to 64 devices. These limits imply that streaming is seamless within a certain range.

Just keep in mind that the specific number varies largely depending on the activity. For example, downloading large files or MP3s requires much more bandwidth than browsing the internet or simply checking your email.

The Best Router For Your Smart Home

Choosing the right router for your needs can seem daunting. Making sense of the numbers that identify the speed, accuracy, and range can just make things worse. Here is a list of the key things to look for when selecting your router. Below, you’ll also find our pick for the best WiFi Router to use for your smart home devices.

  • The size of your home: The physical size of your home is a factor to consider. While smaller homes can do well with a router with lesser reach, bigger homes need more Wi-Fi coverage in all their rooms. Mesh routers work great for very large homes.
  • Your internet speed: Before buying a router with incredible speed, remember it is limited by the internet package you have with your ISP.
  • Number of devices: Consider buying a router that accommodates a large number of devices.
  • Security: Without security measures in place, your router is easily accessible to unwanted elements. Keep your eyes peeled for routers with extra security functions.
  • Router type: Routers come in 2 different types; the traditional single-unit routers, and the newer, mesh routers. Single unit routers create a local area of a network. These are perfect for small or average homes or workspaces. Mesh routers are great for larger spaces. Mesh networks are several individual units that are placed throughout the home evenly. These units provide wider coverage.

The Google Nest Mesh Wi-Fi Router

Google Nest Wifi -  AC2200 - Mesh WiFi System -  Wifi Router - 2200 Sq Ft Coverage - 1 pack

In a time when Asus, Netgear, Linksys rule over the router game, Google Nest is slowly making its mark as a smart and sensible router system. The Google Nest Mesh router comes with several credits like impressive speed, solid performance, and range-extending abilities. Nest has packed this all into an elegant, easy-to-use setup.

The compact mesh units of Nest Wi-Fi are proof that great things do indeed come in small packages. These units fill a home with a powerful Wi-Fi signal. They also feature a built-in Google Home speaker for voice commands and playing music. 

The Nest Wi-Fi design suits most home decors, offering Google Home’s versatile design in organic shapes, rounded edges and soft colors. 

Smaller and more affordable than other Wi-Fi mesh routers, the Nest Wi-Fi is fast, reliable and easy to use.

Setting up a Nest Wi-Fi requires a Google account and the Google Home app that is available for both Android and iOS users. Google Home contains guidelines to install the router, set up the new Wi-Fi password, and identify where to place the router for optimal results. The Google Wi-Fi app supports the Nest Wi-Fi and is used to access more advanced features.

You can run speed tests through them, and check the number of devices connected to the router. You can prioritize specific devices, create guest devices, and schedule breaks for kids’ devices on the network. Additionally, you can block specific content and websites on the network.

Google Nest Wifi -  AC2200 - Mesh WiFi System -  Wifi Router - 2200 Sq Ft Coverage - 1 pack

By itself, the Nest Wi-Fi can cover up to 2,200 square feet. The router and a 2-pack extension increase the coverage to 4,400 square feet, and the Nest Wi-Fi 3-pack is enough to cover an impressive 6,600 square feet.

A single router connects up to 200 devices on the same network to provide a seamless streaming experience. In the 2-pack, one router creates a Wi-Fi network by plugging it into your network provider’s modem. The second extends the wireless network to maintain a fast internet connection in other rooms as well. The 3-pack works similar to the 2-pack, except that it overs a much larger space.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

You can also check out this CNET article on buying a new router.

More than One Option

To conclude, routers play a necessary role in managing our internet across a multitude of devices. More relevant now than ever, a stellar router is very useful with people working, and studying from home today. Planning internet use and investing in a reliable router will avoid bottleneck situations. This helps everyone in the family manage their work and progress through life.

The number of devices connected to your WiFi can certainly have an impact on your speed and performance. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate these issues.

In terms of speed, coverage, and additional features, there are many router options to choose from. Make your choices based on the size of your home, the speeds of your internet service, and how many devices you plan to connect. Consider adequate security protocols and any other features that you think are critical. Parental control and restricting access to certain websites are helpful tools to keep kids safe online.