Why Is My Internet so Slow? 5 Tips to Speed up Your Internet Connection (plus a Bonus)

The drugs baron turns to the undercover agent, smiles, cocks his gun and asks, “Are you really who you say you are?”

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.

how can I speed up my internet

Sound familiar?

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.

 

1. Check Your Current Speed And Plan

how to check your internet speed

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.

 

2. Secure Your Router

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:

  • Press the Windows Start key to open the Start screen.
  • Type “cmd” and press Enter – this will launch command prompt.

learn how to set up your wi fi password

  • Type ipconfig/all into command prompt and press Enter.
  • Your IP address is listed as shown below.

learn how to password protect your wi fi

  • Next, type your IP address into your browser.

learn how to set up your router password

  • This will open your router settings. You may be asked to log in. If so, the username and password should be printed on the router. If not, contact your internet service provider and ask them for more information.
  • Once you’re in your router settings, you will be able to set up a new password and secure your Wi-Fi.

 

3. Close Unnecessary Apps

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:

  • Press CTRL + ALT + DEL. This will bring up task manager, where you will be able to see which programs are currently running and close those you don’t need.

close apps to speed up internet

  • To close a program, right click on its name and select End Task

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.

 

4. Correctly Position Your Router

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:

  • Place your router in a central location. This will give the best coverage throughout your house. If your router is located on one side of your home, it may not cover every room properly.

find out where to put your routerwhere do I put my router

 

  • Do not surround it with metal objects. Metal absorbs electromagnetic energy very efficiently, so do not place your router in a metal cabinet or in the kitchen.
  • Keep it away from your microwave. Microwaves operate at the exact same frequency as Wi-Fi. This means that even the tiny, tiny bit of radiation that escapes from your microwave can disrupt your connection.
  • Place your router somewhere high. Electromagnetic radiation spreads out and down from its source. This means that, by putting your router somewhere high – on a top shelf, for example – you will maximise your coverage.
  • Position the antenna correctly. Positioning the antenna sideways can improve signal upstairs. Positioning it vertically can improve signal laterally.
  • Send the kids out. Since people make for such great absorbers of electromagnetic radiation, when movie night next comes around, it may be a good time to send the kids on a play date.

You can find out what effect household items have on your internet connection in our recent article.

 

5. Switch Channels

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:

  • Access your router settings following the instructions outlined in section two.
  • Look for a menu called Wi-Fi Settings or similar (the specific name varies between providers).
  • The channel number should be selectable. Select a different channel and see whether your speed improves.

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.

 

6. (Bonus Tip) Build Your Own Wi-Fi Booster

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:

  • Carefully cut the top and bottom off the beer can.
  • Cut the cylinder of metal down the middle to turn it into a sheet.
  • Wrap this around your router’s antenna so that it forms a dome, making sure to leave the front exposed.
  • Tada! You’ve just built your very 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.

 

I’ve Tried Everything – Nothing Works

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.