No one enjoys slow internet, so here’s a simple list of networking tips to boost your speed, put together by your friends at PCs Made Simple.
1) Investigate your router
Most routers have a (somewhat secret) settings page that with a little clever know-how you can access to fiddle with settings like lights, parental controls, website blocking/filtering, access scheduling and some more advanced things like your DNS and DHCP settings.
Instructions for accessing this are usually on your router or on the box, even if you don’t plan to change anything it’s good to have a look and see what options you have available, it might even spur you into a little google-learning session! You can also change the name of your access point to something you like better than the default.
One thing that might be worth looking into a little further is the “Quality of Service” features. These are settings that will essentially allow you to prioritize certain traffic, for example, you could set it to give priority to online games so you don’t experience any lag when others are using the internet. You should also check for ‘firmware’ upgrades for your router as these often offer performance improvements and occasionally a new feature or two.
2) Invest in a new router
It’s an upsetting thought, but most routers in use are the ones supplied by your ISP (BT, TalkTalk, Sky, etc.) and unfortunately their first priority will usually be to manufacture as many as they can as cheaply as possible, often meaning you end up with a sub-par piece of kit.
However, this can be easily resolved by purchasing a new router. These range from £30 all the way up to hundreds for ones boasting the latest technology. We can help you find a replacement for your router should you decide you want one and often have several in stock. The best thing to do if you’re not sure is to look up your routers model number online to see what others think of it. If many are complaining and your internet isn’t quite as good as it should be then it’s quite likely an upgrade is needed.
3) Check your band
Most Wi-Fi operates in the 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz bands, however within these are a number of channels that you can choose from. This is essentially just a way to spread devices across slightly different frequencies so they don’t interfere. For an example, in the 2.4Ghz band, channel 1 might cover 2412Mhz and channel 2 may be 2417Mhz. Ideally you want your router to be on a channel that’s not near the channel of your neighbours router or your traffic will experience interference that will slow you down.
Most routers will automatically scan for neighboring routers when they are power cycled, most people however do not do this often enough and the results of the scan can’t always be trusted. The best thing to do is download an app on your phone (just search ‘WiFi channel scan’ or similar) and then walk around your house to see which channels are not currently in use. You can then enter your routers settings like in the first point and change it manually.
The 5Ghz band is relatively new and as such there are less routers using it and less interference, if your router is “dual band” then it can use the older 2.4Ghz band and the newer 5Ghz bands. You’ll find that newer devices using the un-congested 5Ghz band are nice and quick but older devices that only support 2.4Ghz will be slower. If this is the case then you can try the above for the former, but know that changing the channel of your 5Ghz channel most likely wont make a difference.
4) Check for other iNTERFERENCE
One popular cause of the internet being slow is usually interference from nearby devices. Cordless phones, microwaves and even foil-lined plaster board will limit the strength of your signal.
Now, obviously there’s not much you can do about your plasterboard but you can move your phone away and double check for other “microwave emitting devices” such as baby monitors and older Bluetooth devices if you have them. Even just having your router tucked behind your TV will be partially blocking the signal.
5) Check your Connected devices
One other thing you should do inside your routers settings page is to hunt around for the list of connected devices and make sure you can account for each one. If they don’t have friendly alternative names available you may have to match the “MAC address”,. this is an individual number that every device that can access the internet is assigned.
If you do come across any that you don’t recognize it could be that someone is using your broadband. The best thing to do in this case is to change your routers password (the password for the access point NOT THE ADMIN). You should do this every few months anyway as a simple bruteforce attack will be able to try most combinations of a rather long password over the course of this time.
6) Test your speed from multiple devices
If you’ve made it this far because your Internet isn’t great and you’re stuck for ideas, this is probably the most important one on this list. You’re going to need to check your internet from multiple devices, this lets you rule out the device itself as a problem and is the first thing that most ISPs will try to convince you is the problem.
The best way to go about this is to visit speedtest.net (avoid ISP branded speed testing services) on each device and perform a test. Note that you can normally expect older devices and devices connecting wirelessly to be slightly slower. You should do this multiple times over the span of a day to get a true idea of how your broadband is performing.
If you find that one of your devices is running particularly slower than the others that it’s highly possible that the issue is with that device. Unfortunately the problem could range from a failing wireless card to even infections on the system, luckily we offer free diagnostics so feel welcome to bring it to our shop and we’ll work it out for you.
7) Research homeplug adapters
Homeplug adapters are a fairly new invention that uses the existing earth cable in the circuitry of your home’s power as a cable for your internet. The effects of this are like having a long ethernet cable between your devices, only without the need for the actual cable! This is a really simple way of boosting speeds but can sometimes be tricky to set up.
You may find that if your issues are related to speed, a homeplug adapter and/or a range extender will sort the problem for you. A range extender is the same as a homeplug, only it will have a access point built in to allow the signal to be extended wirelessly rather than just via the ethernet cable.
We’ve configured many homeplugs for customers in the past, so if you’re considering these come and talk to one of our team or send us a message via our website.
8) Connect an ethernet cable
The final point in this collection of tips is a simple, but often overlooked one. Although technology is moving on at a terrific pace, wired internet connections consistently achieve better speeds and lower latency than wireless alternatives.
Especially for older devices that only have access to the 2.4Ghz spectrum, connecting an actual wire between,
If your computer is already close to your router and you’re not plugged directly into it, you’re missing out on the easiest change you can make to boost your performance.
So there we go, I hope you’ve found this small collection of tips we’ve put together helpful, if you’re still having trouble with your internet, just give us a call or use the form on our contact page.