Most modern routers support two WiFi frequency bands nowadays. The first uses a 2.4 GHz signal frequency. This frequency is great for penetrating walls and receiving 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 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 on one band or the other, here are the different ways to do it.
Set a band preference in Windows
In Windows you can set which band a WiFi adapter should use.
- Right click on the Start button and select Device Manager†
- Fold the . from Network adapters section.
- Right click on your Wi-Fi adapter and select Properties†
- Below the Advanced tabselect Preferred Band below the Property Label†
- Then open the drop-down menu under Where the and choose which band you prefer.
Note that the language may seem a little different depending on the version of Windows you are using and the specific network card. For example, sometimes the property is called “band” and the setting shows “2.4 GHz only” or “5 GHz only” instead of using the term “preference.”
Set a band preference in macOS
If you’re using a Mac and want to make sure the computer connects to the network of your choice, you’ll need to change the order of preferred networks. Your Mac will first try to connect to the network higher up in the preferred network list before falling back to the next available option.
This isn’t the same as forcing the network connection into one band, but as long as your preferred network is available, the Mac will use it over any other available options.
- Click on the Apple logo†
- Select System Preferences.
- Select Network.
- Select Advanced.
- Under Preferred networks, drag your known Wi-Fi networks into the order you want.
- Select Okay when done.
If you never want your Mac to connect to a particular network, you can remove it from the list or uncheck it Auto Join option next to that network. Then it will only connect if you specifically tell it.
Set a band preference in iOS
iOS devices don’t offer the same type of network preference setting 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 be enough to get the job done.
- Open Settings†
- Select Wi-Fi†
- Next to the listed network you do NOT want to join, select the blue “i” icon†
- Now select: Forget this network to permanently prevent your device from connecting or switching Auto Join disabled so that switching to that network does not happen automatically.
Since your 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks have different names, this should be enough to ensure that your device uses only one.
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 a WiFi priority menu. You will find these under:
Settings † Network & Internet † Wi-Fi † “Overflow menu” † Advanced Wi-Fi † Wi-Fi priority†
If you didn’t already know, the “overflow” menu is usually a button with three horizontal bars. In some cases, it can also be in the menu that can be accessed by tapping the three dots.
The habits Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra we had on hand, that setting is nowhere to be found. We suspect that this will be the case for many Android devices with modified, brand-specific versions of Android.
As such, the most reliable solution is to use a Wi-Fi switching app. These apps take control of which Wi-Fi network you are connected to. Keep in mind that this means giving the app high-level permissions.
Remark: Make sure you only use apps found on the Play Store that have been verified by Play Protect, and check out our android antivirus list to test such an app you install. Also pay attention to user reviews to make sure the app works as described.
Disable a band on your router settings
In some cases, you may not want a device to connect to one of the frequency bands your router provides. The most foolproof method would be to disable one band or the other completely. Keep in mind that some older devices won’t be able to connect to a 5GHz network at all, so turning off your 2.4GHz network will likely disable certain devices.
Every router or WiFi access point has its brand-specific interface and menu layout. So you will have to consult your router’s documentation for exact information. Nevertheless, the basic process is more or less universal.
- Open a web browser on a device connected to the router.
- Enter the router’s IP address† Here it’s 192.168.0.1, but it’s in your router’s manual or on a sticker under the device.
- Log in to the router. If you’ve never set up a custom username or password, the default password listed on a sticker under the router should work.
- Search now 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 settings were under “Wi-Fi name and password†
Now that you’ve turned off the band you don’t want, no device will be able to connect to it.
Give the networks different passwords
If you want to lock a device on one band or the other, there’s a simple trick to get it done. All you need to do is open your router settings and then give each band its password.
Next, on the device itself, make sure you forget the network you don’t want to use. Connect to your desired band, and then it shouldn’t be a problem anymore.
If the device you want to restrict to a specific band doesn’t need to be moved, Ethernet cabling may be better than fiddling with Wi-Fi settings. If the idea 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. Watch Wi-Fi Extenders vs. Powerline Adapters for more information.