The frame freezes. The buffering circle pops up. And you launch into your familiar, frantic process of rapidly refreshing the web page, trying other browsers, quickly disconnecting from and reconnecting to the router, and turning it off and on altogether.
A slow internet connection can wreak havoc on the modern household, causing your favourite movie star to jolt and stammer on screen, your favourite song to grind to a halt just before the drop, your favourite web page to turn into an interactive dinosaur game and your weekly online grocery shop to get stuck at the checkout.
Even worse, for homeworkers and remote-workers, a poor internet connection can interrupt meetings, disrupt workflow and reduce productivity.
Luckily, despite this, you do have some control over your internet connection speed. In fact, there are several easy and effective things you can do to speed up your internet connection. Here are our favourites.
If your internet requirements have increased (due to heavier internet use, more internet-enabled devices in your household or guests staying), your loss of speed could be due to your package not covering your requirements. Find out what your existing plan is by contacting your internet service provider. If you find you are regularly having connection issues, it may be time to upgrade your package.
However, if you suspect that you’re not getting what you pay for, use an online speed checker to see whether the speeds you are experiencing match those your package says you’ll get. See our recent article if you want to find out more about what constitutes a good internet connection as well as how to calculate your requirements.
Your internet connection is not an unlimited resource. Only so much information can pass between your router and the internet, and this means you need to secure it. If your router is not protected, your neighbours may be using your connection and, in doing so, could be making your internet connection slow down.
Most routers come password protected. But not all of them are preconfigured in this way. If you’re unwittingly using an open router, it’s important you set up a password immediately.
To do this, you first need to find out your IP address. This may be printed on your router. If not:
It’s all-too-easy to clutter up your computer. But all this unnecessary stuff could be slowing down your internet connection. Certain apps – such as instant messaging programs, media pop-ups, OS updates, security scans, website tabs, etc. – can eat up bandwidth. To see which are causing a problem:
While you’re at it, you may want to clear your browser history and cache. Depending on when you last did this, unnecessary files may be taking up room in your computer’s storage – which can also lead to a slower internet speed.
Remember when you used to listen to the radio and stood in a certain spot and the signal would start to go? Every time that happened, it was because your body was interfering with the signal. It’s easy to tell when a radio experiences such interference – you can hear it.
Your router is using the same stuff – electromagnetic waves – to connect you to the internet. And, just as your body could interfere with your radio signal, it can also interfere with your internet connection. Rather than hearing this interference, you’ll notice it in by a speed drop.
It’s not just your body that can cause problems. Loads of household objects can interfere with your Wi-Fi signal. That’s why it’s important that you place your router in a good location.
To get the best possible signal:
You can find out what effect household items have on your internet connection in our recent article.
If lots of people are using the same Wi-Fi channel, you may experience your connection slowing down. This is because neighbouring networks operating on the same frequency can interfere with your own network. Most routers allow users to select from a choice of 11 different channels.
Although changing Wi-Fi channels isn’t quite as easy as switching television channels, it’s not rocket science – and doing so can give you a big speed boost if you live in an area with lots of electromagnetic congestion.
The best Wi-Fi channels in the UK are generally 1, 6 and 11.
To switch Wi-Fi channels:
A variety of apps allow you to see which frequencies have the least amount of traffic in your area. For example, the Wi-Fi Analyser App gives users a visual representation of Wi-Fi usage by frequency in their area. Similar apps are available for desktop and iOS use.
If you really want to take matters into your own hands, you’ll be glad to know that it’s possible to build your own Wi-Fi booster. With the right know-how, a simple beer can can become a fantastic parabolic antenna. In layman’s terms, that’s a reflective case that will eliminate signal from other devices while simultaneously boosting your own. Cool, right?
To make your own parabolic antenna:
If you’re not the hands-on type, a variety of commercial Wi-Fi boosters are available that may provide you with the speed boost you need.
If you’ve implemented every Wi-Fi boosting tip you can find, and your internet is still not fast enough, it may be because of where you live. Unfortunately, your internet connection will depend ultimately on both your package and the infrastructure in your area.
Because of this, people living in certain parts of the UK experience faster or slower internet connections (see the places with the fastest and slowest internet connections). There is some good news, however, the UK Government has made increasing average internet speeds a priority. So we can expect to see speeds in the slowest areas increasing soon.
For those businesses in areas with slow average internet connectivity, a poor connection can be more than an annoyance – it can be a real problem.
Thankfully, Wi-Fi isn’t the only way to connect to the internet. Leased lines provide ultra-fast internet access to businesses that need it. A completely private connection, leased lines guarantee a high level of service, smooth connectivity with no interruptions and vastly reduced latency. This means businesses can enjoy a consistent, high-speed connection which will not slow down during busy periods.
For businesses, moving to a leased line can mean vastly increasing productivity and efficiency, eliminating downtime and a dramatic streamlining of processes. Leased lines can provide speeds which are much, much faster than what it’s possible to receive over Wi-Fi or broadband – making them essential for businesses with high connectivity requirements.
Elite Group is the leading unified communications provider. We supply businesses with a range of connectivity solutions – from business broadband and ethernet to leased lines and MPLS.