Improving Your Slow Broadband Connection
Whether it’s slow, intermittent, or not working at all, there are few things more frustrating than a slow broadband connection! As working from home has become a way of life for many of us over the last few weeks due to the coronavirus/Covid-19 lock-down broadband networks are under more demand with more families going online together during the day.
Some slow broadband connection problems may be difficult to fix, but there’s also plenty you can do to improve things yourself. Taking a few simple steps to help maximise your download speeds, and ensure your broadband can run as smoothly as possible, could make all the difference.
Move your broadband router clear of other devices
Keep your router far away from other electrical devices, and those which work wirelessly. Halogen lamps, dimmer switches, stereos and computer speakers, some types of baby monitors, TVs and computer monitors can all affect your wi-fi if they’re too close to your router. Did you know that microwave ovens can also reduce wi-fi signals and are a leading cause of a slow broadband connection? So don’t use the microwave when you’re making video calls, watching HD videos or doing something important online. Also, place your router on a table or shelf rather than on the floor as this allows the wi-fi signal to reach further.
Keep your broadband router switched on
Some people turn their routers off when they’re not using them. Don’t – when you switch it off, it makes it appear that your broadband is disconnecting. This makes the line look unstable and can lead to your speed being automatically reduced to make the line more reliable.
Password protect your wi-fi
If your router works wirelessly, password protect your wi-fi. Make sure that no one is hitching a free ride on your connection and taking up bandwidth which will reduce the speed you see, password protect and encrypt your wi-fi to keep unwanted bandwidth hogs away. If you don’t need to use your router’s wi-fi, consider turning it off completely (using your router’s configuration interface).
Change the wi-fi channel
If other wireless networks are in range, change your router to use a different channel to avoid interference. We recommend using channel 1 as this is usually free and won’t interfere with the standard channels used by most popular routers. This simple change can quickly improve a slow broadband conection.
Lower the demands on your connection
The more devices that use your wi-fi, the lower the speed you’ll get! Devices like tablets and smartphones often work in the background, so switch off wi-fi reception on these when you’re not using them. If you’re making video calls or meetings, turning off the video and using audio only will use much less of your internet connection. Or, try starting them at less common times, rather than on the hour or half hour. You could also want to manage your family’s online activity, so different people aren’t carrying out data-heavy tasks (like HD streaming, gaming or video calls) at the same time. It can also help to download video in advance, instead of streaming it.
Check for applications running in the background
Many applications run in the background on your computer and some of these will be quietly using your broadband connection for tasks such as installing updates or uploading data, which will lead to a slow broadband connection. Examples include the BBC iPlayer download version. Make sure that all unnecessary applications are shut down to prevent this. If this makes a difference, then add back each application until you identify which one is affecting your download speed. Having large numbers of browser windows or tabs open may also have an effect on your download speeds – try running the speed test with all other web pages closed, does this make a difference to speed?
Try wired rather than wireless
For the best broadband speeds, use an Ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to your router, instead of using wi-fi. This is a computer cable which should give you a faster, more reliable connection and improve your slow broadband connection.
Plug your broadband router directly into your main phone socket
Try not to use a telephone extension lead, as these can cause interference which could lower your speed. If you must use an extension lead, use a new, high-quality cable that is as short as possible. Tangled and coiled cables can also affect speeds. So can interference from your phone line, so try plugging ‘microfilters’ into every phone socket in your home. They are little white boxes and split the phone and broadband signals so they don’t affect each other. Different telecoms companies use different setups in the home, so always check their website before unplugging any cables.
Upgrade to a good quality broadband router
If you are using a cheap modem or router and your provider allows it, consider replacing with a newer higher quality router. A cheap radio gives a poorer sound reproduction than a quality radio, in the same manner a cheap modem or router can sometimes be the cause of a poor broadband experience. Investing in a higher quality router can lead to improvements in speed and reliability, especially on poor quality telephone lines. If you’re not sure, look online for user reviews of your make and model of modem or router – if there are problems it’s likely that reviews will show this. This can especially be an issue when you haven’t switched broadband suppliers for quite some time as you may be using a router that doesn’t support more recent upgrades to your telephone exchange. If in doubt, ask your supplier’s tech support team.
Check your download allowance
Make sure your broadband provider hasn’t capped your speed because you exceeded the limits of your monthly usage allowance or traffic management policy. Many providers now reduce your speed rather than charging you for exceeding your allowance. You should be emailed a warning if you exceed your usage allowance, however if you’ve simply exceeded the traffic management allowance (often in place at peak times) you won’t be informed, your speed will simply drop for a fixed number of hours (or until the peak period ends). Your provider’s website should give you details of any traffic management policy in place and inform you of the effects of exceeding your usage allowance.
Upgrade your broadband package
It’s always worth speaking to your broadband provider to see if your speed can be increased, this is particularly relevant for people who have had their connection for a long time and may still be on deals capped at a speed below that which your line can support.
There’s always our Tech Helpline to help improve your slow broadband connection
If you have any questions about improving your slow broadband connection or any other computer-related questions, give us a call on 0345 319 4877 (local call rate). We’ll be happy to help you.