Lock Your WiFi Network
Another way of understanding internet speed is bandwidth: a block of data a connection handles in a single second. If you’re sharing your connection with other people and devices, that bandwidth will be divided between you, like slices of a pie, so none of you will receive the full speed your connection is capable of.
That’s fine if you’re sharing with family members, roommates, and other welcome guests. You can just plead with them not to all watch Netflix at once. But approved users might not be the only passengers on your internet. If you haven’t locked your WiFi network down with a password, you could inadvertently be providing WiFi to the whole neighborhood—at the expense of your speeds.
Reposition Your Router
A badly positioned WiFi router is as bad an underpowered one. If your router isn’t well-placed, its signal can be deflected and blocked, trapped in a closet, or beamed straight out a window.
Often simply moving your router can boost your WiFi, speeding up your web-browsing.
Here are a few tips for situating your router:
- don’t hide it away in a closet or cupboard
- place it in a central, visible location in your home, ideally off the floor and away from windows
- keep it away from thick walls, metal pipes, large appliances, and fishtanks—all obstacles which can block its signal
- shield it from electromagnetic interference, from Bluetooth speakers and microwaves
Upgrade Your Router
Many of us use ISP-issued routers, but sometimes the equipment isn’t up to the job. If your internet is sluggish, consider upgrading to a third-party router. Independent routers offer more throughput speed and better range, so you’ll receive a speedy and strong signal in every corner of your home. They can also come with beefed up security and customization options. If you’re still renting a router from your internet provider for a monthly charge, they can also save you money.
What do you look for in a new router
? Consider its throughout speed, the number of bands (look for double and tri-band routers), and the number of antennas.
If your house is especially large and you find traditional routers just don’t have enough oomph to get signal into your master bedroom, consider a mesh WiFi network. These systems work through nodes scattered around your home, all communicating with each other to deliver strong signal everywhere.
A good way to tell if your router and WiFi are dragging down your internet speeds is to bypass them together by plugging a device into your modem with an ethernet cable. If you get faster speeds directly linked to your internet connection, you know your wireless network
and router are failing you. If your speeds are still lagging with the ethernet cable, you’ll have to search elsewhere for the culprit. Read on.
Check Your Devices for Viruses
As you’re aware, spyware and malware can make your devices operate at glacial speeds. But they can also slow your internet speed, hijacking your device and its connection to do malicious and bandwidth-sucking deeds right under your nose. To potentially improve your internet speed, and keep yourself safe online, clean all your devices, from computers to cell phones, of malware and install fresh anti-virus software to protect them from further intrusions.
Upgrade Your Devices
Sometimes older computers simply can’t handle today’s gigabit internet speeds. Lightning-fast internet and a robust WiFi signal don’t mean much if your laptop struggles to connect to the network or accommodate those speeds. You may need to upgrade your equipment to move faster online.
Switch Your Internet Provider or Technology
Some internet providers are known for delivering more reliable speeds than others. If your speeds are repeatedly falling below those advertised and you’re sure your WiFi and devices aren’t to blame, register your complaints with your ISP. They may try to boost your internet speed with a visit from an engineer, or they may allow you to leave your contract without penalty. You can then compare internet
providers to find one known not just for its cheap internet plans and healthy speeds but also for living up to those promises.
In some cases, the fault doesn’t lie with your provider but rather with the type of internet
you’re using. Speeds on DSL and cable connections deteriorate over distance, so the farther you live from your ISP’s local hub, the slower your internet will be, no matter how many adjustments you make at home. To avoid this problem, get a fiber connection if it’s available in your area.
Some remote households may find their only option for reasonably paced internet is satellite. Satellite internet comes with slower speeds than most in-ground options, but they don’t dwindle over distance and, weather aside, can be as fast in Alaska as they are in Los Angeles.