Currently, most modern routers support two Wi-Fi frequency bands. the former uses a 2.4ghz signal frequency. this frequency is great for penetrating walls and getting strong signals at greater distances from the router, but it is relatively slow. The other 5GHz signal band is much faster, but the signal strength drops off faster and objects block 5GHz radio waves more easily.
Usually your devices will switch between the band that works best at the time, but if you have a reason to lock a device to one band or another, here are the various ways to do it.
Reading: How to connect to 2.5 wifi
set a band preference on windows
on windows, you can set which band a wi-fi adapter should use.
- right-click the start button and select device manager.
- Expand the network adapters section.
- right click on your wifi adapter and select properties.
- On the advanced tab, select preferred band in the property tag.
- then open the drop down menu under value and choose the band you prefer.
Note that the language looks a bit different depending on the version of windows you are using as well as the specific network card. for example, sometimes the property is called “band” and the setting lists “2.4ghz only” or “5ghz only” instead of using the term “preferred”.
set a band preference on macos
if you’re using a mac and want to make sure your computer connects to the network you choose, you’ll need to change the order of the preferred networks. your mac will try to connect to the network that is higher in the list of preferred networks before falling back to the next available option.
this is not like forcing the network connection on one band, but as long as your preferred network is available, the mac will use it over other available options.
- click the apple logo.
- select system preferences.
- select red.
- select advanced.
- under preferred networks, drag your known wi-fi networks to the desired order.
- select ok when finished.
If you never want your mac to join a particular network, you can remove it from the list or uncheck the auto-join option next to that network. then it will only connect if you specifically tell it to.
set a band preference on ios
iOS devices don’t offer the same type of network preference settings as macOS devices, so there aren’t as many options for setting your network preference.
on the plus side, the two main options you have in ios and ipados are enough to get the job done.
- select wi-fi.
- Next to the network in the list you don’t want to join, select the blue ‘i’ icon.
- Now, select forget this network to prevent your device from connecting to it permanently or disable automatic connection so it doesn’t switch to that network . happen automatically.
Since your 2.4ghz and 5ghz networks have different names, this should be enough to make sure your device only uses one of them.
set a band preference in android
When it comes to android devices, things are not as simple as they could be. some android phones have wi-fi priority menu. you can find this at:
settings> network & internet > wi-fi > “additional menu” > advanced wi-fi > wi- fi priority.
if you didn’t know, the “overflow” menu is usually a button with three horizontal bars. in some cases, it may also be in the menu accessed by tapping the three dots.
using the samsung galaxy s21 ultra we had on hand, that setting is nowhere to be found. we suspect this will be the case for many android devices with custom, brand-specific versions of android.
As such, the most reliable solution is to use a wi-fi switching app. these apps take control of the wifi network you are connected to. Note that this involves granting high-level permissions to the app.
Based on our research, a top suggestion is the Smart Wi-Fi Switcher, which is a paid app. however, the developer offers a free trial so you can make sure it works for you.
Note: Be careful to only use apps you find on the Play Store that are verified by Play Protect, and take a look at our Android antivirus list to test any apps you install. pay attention to user reviews to make sure the app works as described.
disable a band in your router settings
In some cases, you may not want any device to connect to one of the frequency bands your router offers. the most foolproof method would be to disable one band or the other entirely. just keep in mind that some older devices can’t connect to a 5ghz network at all, so if you disable your 2.4ghz network, it’s likely to cut off certain devices.
Each Wi-Fi router or access point has its own brand-specific interface and menu layout. so you’ll need to consult your router’s documentation for exact information. however, the basic process is more or less universal.
- Open a web browser on a device that is connected to the router.
- Enter the ip address of the router. here, it’s 192.168.0.1, but it will be in your router’s manual or on a label under the device.
- login to the router. if you’ve never set a custom username or password, the default password that appears on a label under the router should work.
- now look for the wi-fi settings section.
- Within that menu, there should be a place to disable individual bands. in the case of this router, the setting was “wi-fi name & password.”
Now that you’ve turned off the band you don’t want, there’s no way any device can connect to it.
give networks different passwords
if you want a device locked to one band or the other, there is a simple trick to achieve it. all you have to do is open your router settings and then give each band its password.
then, on the device itself, make sure to forget the network you don’t want it to use. connect to the desired band and it should no longer be a problem.
If you don’t need to move the device you want to limit to a specific band, hardwired ethernet may be better than messing around with wi-fi settings. If the thought of running cables and drilling holes in walls is daunting, you also have the option of using powerline ethernet extenders, which are a plug-and-play solution. See Wi-Fi Extenders vs. Powerline Adapters for more information.