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How to Prioritize Devices On Your Wi-Fi Network (and Why You Should)

Chart showing increasing household Wi-Fi congestion

Is your home Wi-Fi feeling sluggish lately? Does streaming video buffer constantly? Are your video calls glitchy and full of lag?

Don‘t worry – improving your network performance may be as easy as setting device priorities. Let me explain how it works.

Your router has a technology called Quality of Service (QoS) that lets you optimize your Wi-Fi by prioritizing important devices and activities.

In this guide, I‘ll walk you through everything you need to know about QoS, including:

  • What QoS is and how it works
  • The benefits of using QoS to prioritize devices
  • Step-by-step setup guides for popular router brands
  • Tips for managing your newly optimized network
  • Answers to frequently asked QoS questions

I‘ll also explain why QoS can often fix Wi-Fi frustration without upgrading your internet speeds.

So read on to finally take control of your wireless network and give your devices the priority they deserve!

What Is Quality of Service (QoS)?

Quality of Service is a powerful router feature that gives you control over how your available bandwidth gets used.

It does this by letting you assign priorities to specific devices and types of network traffic. For example, you can make your gaming PC or console the top priority to reduce lag during matches.

Here are some other great uses for QoS:

  • Prioritize streaming boxes like Roku to prevent video buffering
  • Give video calls and voice assistants high priority to prevent glitches
  • Limit bandwidth for file downloads so they don‘t disrupt other tasks
  • De-prioritize smart home gadgets that aren‘t latency sensitive

By intelligently allocating bandwidth in this way, QoS delivers traffic to your highest priority devices first. This keeps their connections smooth while preventing less important activities from hogging resources and slowing down your network.

It essentially optimizes your Wi-Fi to provide the best possible performance based on how you configure the priorities.

How QoS Works

QoS works by queuing network traffic into different priority levels. Your router inspects each packet of data to determine what device and application it‘s associated with.

It then assigns the traffic to the appropriate priority queue based on the QoS rules you set up. Packets in higher queues get transmitted first. If there‘s any bandwidth left after serving the top queues, lower priority traffic follows.

By queuing time sensitive applications like video, voice and gaming in the high priority levels, QoS ensures those packets get delivered on time. This prevents latency, lag, and other QoE (quality of experience) problems.

Of course, the level of control your router provides over traffic shaping and prioritization settings can vary quite a bit. Next we‘ll look closer at why QoS can be so useful in modern smart homes.

Why You Should Prioritize Your Devices

Back in the day when homes only had a few wired PCs online, Wi-Fi bandwidth was plentiful. But now the average U.S. home has over 11 connected devices competing for airtime!

All those smartphones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, speakers, security cams, thermostats, appliances and more are constantly communicating and congesting the network.

In fact, a [Nokia study](– finds-global-nokia-wi-fi-research/) found that over 25% of households already experience regular Wi-Fi performance and coverage issues.

With 4K video streaming alone using up to 7GB per hour of data, you can see how home networks quickly get overwhelmed.

Chart showing increasing household Wi-Fi congestion

Household Wi-Fi Congestion Over Time – Statista

But upgrading to faster internet service isn‘t the only solution. You can also optimize the way your existing bandwidth gets divided up among your connected devices.

And this is exactly what configuring QoS allows you to do! By intelligently managing the priorities, you can alleviate congestion and get the most from your available bandwidth.

Benefits of QoS Prioritization

Setting up QoS to properly prioritize your networked devices offers big benefits:

Faster streaming: Prioritize your Roku, Apple TV, etc. to prevent buffering. Gaming consoles also benefit.

Lag-free gaming: Give your Xbox, PlayStation and gaming PCs top priority to reduce latency.

Glitch-free video calls: Make sure FaceTime, Skype and Zoom get bandwidth to prevent frozen screens and robocall-style garbled voices.

Faster web browsing and social media: Web pages and video streams load quicker with priority.

Reduced congestion: Stop bandwidth hogging devices like security cameras from choking your network.

Happy smart homes: Your IoT gadgets like smart thermostats and doorbells work better when prioritized.

Works with any internet speed: You get more from your existing bandwidth without paying your ISP to upgrade.

But QoS capabilities differ quite a bit across router models. Let‘s look at how to configure it on popular brands.

How to Set Up QoS on Your Router

The steps required to enable QoS and set device priorities vary depending on your router brand, model and firmware.

We‘ll walk through the processes for TP-Link, Netgear, Linksys, Google Nest and Eero routers.

Before You Start

Before diving into the router-specific steps, make sure you have the following:

  • Your Wi-Fi network name and password handy
  • Router admin console access (often at or
  • Your router admin username and password

If you‘ve never logged into your router‘s admin console before, the default login credentials are usually:

  • Username: admin
  • Password: admin or password

Check your router docs to confirm default access details for your model. Okay, now let‘s get your devices prioritized!

TP-Link Routers

TP-Link routers make QoS setup very straightforward.

  1. Access your router admin console and go to Advanced > QoS.
  2. Choose either Bandwidth Control to set bandwidth limits per device or Priority to assign priority levels.
  3. Click Add New Bandwidth Control Rule or Add New Priority Rule.
  4. Enter your desired device name and IP address.
  5. Select the download/upload limits or priority level you want to assign.
  6. Click Save to apply your rule.
  7. Repeat to add additional devices and fine tune as needed.

And you‘re done! TP-Link QoS takes just minutes to complete.

Netgear Routers

Here‘s how to enable QoS on Netgear routers:

  1. Launch the Netgear admin console usually located at
  2. Navigate to Advanced > Setup > QoS Setup.
  3. Under QoS, toggle Enable to On.
  4. Choose a QoS Type:
  • Per Device to set priority by device
  • Per Application to prioritize by app/traffic type
  1. Click Apply to save the setting.
  2. Now assign priorities or bandwidth limits to your desired devices or applications.
  3. Click Apply again to activate your rules.

It‘s quick work to start prioritizing your traffic on Netgear routers.

Linksys Routers

Here are the steps for Linksys routers:

  1. Log into your Linksys admin console, usually located at
  2. Go to QoS > Priority Rules.
  3. Click Edit Priority Rules.
  4. Click Add to create a new rule.
  5. Assign a priority level between 1-8 (1 is highest) to your desired device‘s IP or MAC address.
  6. Click Save to add the rule.
  7. Repeat for additional devices and priority levels then click Apply.

Linksys QoS setup is simple once you find the right menu options.

Google Nest Wifi

Google Nest uses a simplified app-based system for QoS:

  1. Open the Google Home app and select your Nest Wifi point.
  2. Tap on See More Settings.
  3. Go to Prioritize a Device and select the device you want to prioritize from the list.
  4. Pick the amount of time to prioritize the device.
  5. Tap Done to apply the setting.

Note that you can only prioritize one device at a time with Nest Wifi.

Eero Routers

To enable QoS on Eero:

  1. Launch the Eero app and select your network.
  2. Tap on View details.
  3. Go to Band steering and enable it. This automatically optimizes device connections.
  4. Now select Traffic meter and enable it.
  5. Under Restrictions you can limit bandwidth per device or pause connections.

Eero doesn‘t have true QoS built in but lets you achieve a similar effect using its traffic shaping settings.

With QoS set up on your router, your network should already feel faster and more responsive. Give it some time and tweak settings as needed to get your priorities dialed in perfectly.

Now let‘s look at some expert tips for managing your newly optimized network.

Tips for Managing Your Wi-Fi Network

The following tips will help you maintain networking nirvana after setting up QoS:

Check settings regularly – Periodically revisit your priorities as devices come and go to keep things optimized.

Lower others‘ priority – Down-ranking bandwidth hogs can be just as effective as raising priorities.

Mind the bandwidth limits – If setting manual limits, triple check your available bandwidth numbers. Incorrect values can sabotage performance.

Test your changes – Run speed tests and monitor your network‘s response before and after making QoS changes.

Enable smart connect – Routers like Netgear‘s support intelligent auto-band steering to optimize Wi-Fi performance.

Consider a mesh system – Multi-point mesh Wi-Fi systems like Google Nest help eliminate dead zones.

Add Ethernet ports – For stationary devices like desktop PCs and smart TVs, wired connections ease Wi-Fi congestion.

Use 5 GHz band when possible – The 5 GHz frequency offers much higher throughput for compatible devices than standard 2.4 GHz.

Now let‘s go over some frequently asked questions about QoS.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my router has QoS?

Checking your router admin console‘s settings for terms like "QoS", "Quality of Service", "traffic shaping", and "bandwidth control" will verify if QoS is present. Consult your router documentation for details.

What are the best QoS settings for gaming?

Gaming devices should always be top priority. Assign the maximum bandwidth and highest priority queue possible to your console/PC for minimal lag.

Can you use QoS on mesh networks?

Yes, mesh systems from brands like Linksys, Netgear, and Asus have customizable QoS options similar to their regular routers. Just log into the admin console.

Will using QoS reduce my internet speeds?

QoS won‘t directly lower your overall internet speeds – only limit specific devices. It optimizes performance overall. But if you incorrectly configure bandwidth limits lower than your ISP provides, speeds may reduce.

Can I prioritize Wi-Fi devices over Ethernet?

Usually yes – most routers allow assigning priority regardless of whether devices connect wirelessly or via Ethernet cable.

Can I pause my kid‘s devices?

Absolutely! All modern routers let you restrict access to specific devices which makes limiting kids‘ Wi-Fi time easy.

How does bufferbloat affect latency?

Bufferbloat refers to routers holding on to more data than needed, introducing lag. Enabling QoS minimizes bufferbloat which reduces latency.

Does WMM support help with Wi-Fi calls?

Yes, WMM gives Quality of Service advantages for Wi-Fi calling and audio streams on supported routers. Prioritizing handsets works great also.

Hopefully the Q&A helped clarify any lingering questions! Now let‘s recap everything we covered.

The Bottom Line

  • Quality of Service allows you to control bandwidth allocation across your networked devices and apps via prioritization and traffic shaping. This helps minimize lag and latency issues.
  • With modern homes having so many connected devices, Wi-Fi congestion is a growing issue. Enabling QoS intelligently distributes your existing bandwidth to avoid problems.
  • Setting device priorities improves streaming, gaming, and voice/video calls even without paying your ISP for faster internet. Plus it reins in bandwidth hogging.
  • Configuring QoS is easy on most modern routers – just dive into the admin console. With the right priorities set, your network will run much smoother.
  • Check back periodically to tune your QoS settings as your device mix evolves to stay optimized over time.

I hope this guide helps you take control of your home Wi-Fi and get devices working smoothly. Enjoy the benefits of a congestion-free network!

To take your network‘s security and privacy to the next level, have a look at my recommended VPN routers:

  • ExpressVPN – My top choice for fast speeds, reliability and easy setup
  • NordVPN – Great advanced security features
  • Surfshark – Excellent value if you need to connect many devices

Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions!


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.