Whether you need to use the Internet for business or recreation, there’s nothing worse than a slow connection. It can be extremely frustrating when web pages take too long to load or the latest viral video keeps buffering. And with so many devices connected to the Internet these days, slow speeds can cause lots of disruption. Luckily, there are lots of simple things you can try to improve the situation before you call in an expert.
It all starts with understanding bandwidth and performing a simple speed test. When you know your current Internet speed, you can begin to diagnose the problem. The first thing you need to do is to compare the speeds you’re getting with the rate your Internet Service Provider (ISP) said you’d get. If you’re getting close to the speeds advertised, it may mean that you don’t have the bandwidth for the types of activities you want to do. However, if your speeds are well below what you should get, there are a number of things you can try before calling your ISP.
Understanding Your Internet Speed
When you conduct your speed test, you will get results for latency, download speed, and upload speed and you need to know what each of these means.
Latency reflects the time it takes for data to reach its destination. This is measured in milliseconds and generally, latency under 100ms is good. Higher latencies can cause delays when you’re doing things like video chatting.
Download speed reflects how quickly your device downloads data from the internet. If you just want to use social media and email and generally browse the web, 1 Mbps is enough. However, if you want to stream standard quality videos, you’ll need 2 to 3 Mbps. For full HD video and audio streaming, 10 Mbps would be sufficient.
On the other hand, upload speed refers to how quickly your device can upload data to the internet. This affects how quickly large files such as photos or videos will upload. Speeds of 5 Mbps would be enough for uploading your content to the cloud or live streaming video at a resolution of 720p.
Now that you know what your speed test results mean, let’s look at some of the things you can do to speed things up.
How to Significantly Improve Your Internet Speed
Try a More Modern Router or Modem
Outdated or inadequate modems are one of the biggest causes of slow Internet speed. Before you blame your ISP, change the modem and see if your favorite websites begin to load faster. No matter how fast your Internet plan is, it won’t reach top speeds if you have a faulty or old modem or router.
Update the Router’s Firmware
Even if your router is modern, its firmware will need to be updated occasionally. You’ll have to do this manually using the instructions which came with your router or an online manual. Updating the firmware improves your connectivity and keeps your network secure.
Check Your System for Viruses or a Bandwidth-Hungry Program
Speaking of security, if changing the modem makes no difference, you should check to see if a virus is slowing you down. Viruses can run in the background and drain resources which would otherwise be available to you. If you don’t detect any viruses on your computer, you may want to check to see if your anti-virus scanner or another program is interfering with your speeds. Try closing programs one by one and running the speed test again. This can be time-consuming but if one application is draining bandwidth, this method will allow you to pinpoint it.
Remove Any Unnecessary Programs
Maybe you don’t have a single program which is using up your bandwidth, but you have numerous unused programs running in the background. You may have downloaded them out of curiosity or for a one-time project and never removed them. If you’re having internet challenges, now is the time to look for these programs and delete them. Games are common culprits.
Check for External Interference
Take a look around and see if there are any electronic devices near your modem. Sound systems, phones, and tablets can all cause electromagnetic interference. Move them out of the area and check your internet speeds again. You may be surprised by how much things improve with this simple solution.
Move Your Router or Computer to a Different Spot
The location of your devices can significantly impact the strength of your wireless signal. If your router is currently positioned low to the ground, place it as high as you can. If you need the signal to cover a wide area, try to also place the router as centrally as possible. Putting your router in a cupboard or behind a tall potted plant or any other obstruction is highly likely to impact your speed.
Turn off Internet-Connected Devices When You’re Not Using Them
Several devices in your home are likely to be Internet-capable including cellphones, MP3 players, printers, smart TVs, and gaming systems. As long as they are on, they may be using bandwidth even if you aren’t using them. It may be difficult to remember but you should turn them off or disable the Wi-Fi setting when they’re not in use. This ensures that only the devices you’re using have access to your bandwidth.
Get a Faster Internet Plan from Your ISP
If none of the above suggestions make a difference or you’re already getting the maximum speed possible with your current plan, it’s time to upgrade. Contact your ISP and ask about your options. Be sure to let them know how many devices will need to be connected and how many people live in your household. This will help to ensure you get the best plan for your needs. Ensure that you get information about any usage caps which may apply if you use a certain amount of bandwidth.
Use the Internet at Off-Peak Times
If you’re competing for bandwidth with other people in your apartment complex or office building, speeds will be slow when everyone is logged on. If possible, try to carry out those tasks which require the most bandwidth when everyone else is offline. This may mean getting things done early in the morning or late in the evening. When speeds slow down, do those tasks which don’t require fast speeds or those which don’t require connectivity at all. This is not an ideal arrangement, but it can help while you wait to get an upgraded plan.
No one wants to deal with slow Internet especially if time is of the essence and you need to do online research or send off large files. However, the good news is that there is usually something you can do to get faster speeds and you don’t always need to call a technician or your ISP. Sometimes, all you need to do is move your router or use your devices in a different location. Other times, you need a new router or a quick firmware update. When all else fails, investing in a faster Internet plan may be the only solution. In any case, it all starts with understanding bandwidth and knowing how to test your Internet speeds. This helps you to correctly diagnose the problem and find a solution.
About The Author
Emily Jacobs is Happiness Ambassador for SpeedCheck.org
She loves to write latest technology trends and loves to share her knowledge through her articles.