Purchasing an ultrafast broadband connection is expensive and might not even be an option in your area. However, there are several ways you can get the best out of your broadband connection without parting with any extra money.
One thing that is worth remembering before you start is that while very occasionally, broadband speeds may slightly exceed your contract’s maximum 'up to' speed, this is very rare. Check the maximum speed on your contract; there’s no point spending time trying to speed up something that’s already going as fast as it ever will.
Turn it off and on again
This is the IT guy’s go-to phrase and the magical solution to so many irritating technological problems, but it really does work. Unplugging your router and computer for a few seconds before plugging them back in and restarting can solve any problems you might be having, so give it a try.
Watch out for auto-updates
Auto-update is the way in which programs scan for updates online by remaining connected to the Internet at all times. For some programs, this is a useful feature, but think about how many programs you have on your system that you barely use; if all these programs are set to auto-update this can have a catastrophic effect on your broadband connection speed.
Check that the unnecessary programs have their auto update function set to off and that any other programs that you don’t want to access the Internet are not doing so.
Secure your network
Unless you live in a vast mansion, chances are your WiFi broadband signal will extend beyond the limits of your property. This means that neighbours and even passers-by can connect to the Internet via your broadband connection.
This is why we password protect our networks; to avoid people piggybacking our connection and slowing down our Internet speed. Choose a strong password, preferably one with lots of different case letters, numbers and punctuation marks in order to keep that network fast and secure.
Watch out for throttling
Throttling refers to a broadband provider intentionally slowing down your connection. This routinely occurs at peak times when many people are accessing the Internet at the same time and is used to provide a standard service to customers across the board, rather than allowing a lucky few users to hog the bandwidth at peak time.
Providers will also throttle your service if they think you are approaching your monthly limit. Perform a speed check on your system at different times of the month to check whether or not this is the case.
Don’t be afraid of Ethernet
When you’ve paid for a wireless connection, it seems a shame to use an Ethernet cable. However, as WiFi is affected by factors such as distance and obstacles between your browsing device and the router, connecting your device directly to the router via an Ethernet cable can be the best option if there is an area of your house plagued by poor Internet signal.
Contact your provider
If problems persist and you aren’t getting the service you signed up for, sometimes a quick call to your provider can sort everything out. Give them the chance to help you. If they can’t, don’t get despondent, there are still more tricks you can try.
A slow connection speed could be symptomatic of a problem with your hardware. Ensure that the router you are using is an N-rated wireless standard router, as anything older can cause your connection to slow.
If your browsing device is out of date, this could be the problem. It might be time to purchase a new laptop or desktop computer.
Before you buy a brand new laptop, though, first try updating your browser. Downloading the latest version of an Internet browser can have a marked effect on your Internet speed. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox boast the best browser speeds.
Antivirus systems also have an effect. If your antivirus software is out of date, all manner of bugs, viruses and Trojans could be clogging up your connection. Update your antivirus protection and perform a full scan on your system; this should eliminate any nasties and will help you regain a healthy connection.
Avoid extension cables
Unless you really, really have to, avoid using an extension cable to connect your router to your landline. The longer the extension the weaker your connection will be. Also, if you must use an extension cable, make sure it is a good quality one; not old, worn and tangled.
Try different channels
If you live in a built up area, it’s possible that you and many Internet users local to you are connecting to the Internet via the same channel. This causes a dramatic slowdown of your Internet connection.
This can be combated by changing the channel on your wireless router, selecting the one that is the least busy and therefore offers the best connection speed. This can be a technical process though, so be warned. If you choose to fiddle with your router’s channels it’s time to dust off that manual and don the reading glasses.
If you receive several different services via your landline connection – multiple phonelines, fax etc as well as broadband – this can cause unwanted interference. Such interference can be avoided with the use of a microfilter.
Resembling a telephone adapter, a microfilter plugs directly into your landline connection socket and ensures minimal interference between each of your services. This is vital if you have a lot of stuff delivered via the same landline connection.
It’s also worth checking that other pieces of electrical equipment aren’t interfering with your broadband connection. Try switching off unnecessary appliances or moving your router somewhere free from interference.