Popular shows aside, we all know how frustrating it is to not be able to stream your favorite show, or to deal with a laggy connection when you’re playing PUBG or similar.
But before you jump to the biggest change – switching internet service providers – there are a lot of other tweaks you can make to boost your speed. Some are 1-step tips, like restarting your router.
In others, we suggest multiple-step processes.
But they all can work and are definitely easier to try than going through the headache of finding a new ISP. Here are our top 10 tips for speeding up your internet connection.
But first - test your speed
Our apologies - that last sentence was misleading. The first thing you need to do is actually check your internet speeds. Because before you can try any of our tips, you need to know 2 things:
- How fast is your internet supposed to be able to reach? I.e. Mbps.
- How fast is your internet connection?
So to learn those things, start with the easy one: the first. Go over to your ISP account and see what your current plan’s speed is. For instance, my Spectrum internet plan tells me it can reach up to 100Mbps starting.
However, it likely won’t say anywhere what you’re actually getting. Even if it does, don’t trust it until you’ve run a 3rd-party speed test.
Which leads to finding out the answer to #2. Speedtest.net is my go-to for testing actual internet speed. You’ll see it test your download, upload, and Ping one by one.
When the test is finished, it’ll look something like this:
That’s what you’re actually getting right now. Compare it to what your ISP says you should be getting before moving on.
A few more tips first:
- Turn off any background, data-intensive activities (Games, downloads, streaming videos/music, etc)
- Run the test during your normal internet-using time. Not at 2am when no one else is on and you may get faster-than-normal speeds.
- Use more than one speed test. Internet Health Test is another good one that takes into account network congestion, too.
With that out of the way you can move onto the tips themselves.
#1: Restart your router
Turning your router on and off again is a good place to start. Either manually unplug it, press the power button, or log into it through your internet browser and shut it down.
Wait at least 10 seconds – if not a full minute – before plugging it back in/restarting it.
If you find this helps but is a recurring problem, just do it every month, week, or day – whatever is necessary.
#2: Turn off/Disconnect other internet devices
If you have multiple computers, tablets, TVs, video game consoles, or other phones all connected to your Wi-Fi, try disconnecting them. Each by itself might not be that much, but combined together they can chew up your available bandwidth and slow it down for everyone.
Even if your device is just sitting there, it might be using data to download updates – “Update when Wi-Fi is available?” is a commonly-checked box in many device settings to reduce cellular data use.
So – try disconnecting everything else or shutting it off completely.
#3: Move your router
This is another quick one – if your router is in a distant corner of the house, consider moving it to a more central location; or, a location nearer to where you typically go on the internet.
For instance, if you typically hang out in your living room – move the router to a shelf in there, or at least on the same level.
#4: Block ads
Not only are online ads annoying, but they eat up data – which slows you down, especially if your connection is slow to start with. Ads often load before everything else on a web page, so cutting those off can increase your browsing speeds noticeably.
#5: Clear your cache/delete your history
Deleting your internet history can speed up the internet on your device, too. History will include not only the sites you visited, but also the cookies and cached images that are combining to slow you down.
#6: Install antivirus/antimalware
Viruses and malware can easily be downloaded onto your device by mistake. And if you don’t have antivirus or antimalware protection, they can be stealing your bandwidth, which slows you down.
Plus viruses can steal your important info like passwords and bank account numbers; and malware can use your device’s CPU for its own nefarious purposes.
So consider installing antivirus and antimalware on your device.
#7: Remember your data cap
This tends to be a big culprit for slow-downs, especially toward the end of the month or if you download/upload a lot of files. When you go over your data limit, your internet provider will throttle your internet speed down to a crawl.
You usually have to dig pretty deep to find what your ISP’s data limit is, but trust us – it’s there. Depending on your plan and provider, it can range from a few hundred megabytes to several hundreds (even thousands) of gigabytes.
In any case, check your bill and/or online account to see if you’ve gone over. If it happens a lot, you might want to consider a plan with a higher data limit.
#8: Go old-school with Ethernet
Ethernet is a wired connection that carries your internet signal directly to your device, rather than floating through the air. Wi-Fi is great and all, but they’re not as fast – a wired internet connection will always be faster than Wi-Fi. It’s a simple fact.
Plus ethernet is more secure than Wi-Fi, too.
So – whichever devices are most important to you: connect them via ethernet cable. You can connect your heavy-hitters easily:
- Smart TV
- Gaming consoles (PS4, Xbox, etc)
- Laptops and desktops
#9: Kick off unwanted guests
Have you ever wonder “Why is my internet slow?”. If the answer is Yes, it might because of some unwanted guests. If your internet doesn’t have a password – i.e. it’s “unsecured” – stop. Go and secure it now. If you live in an apartment building, duplex, or otherwise urban or suburban area, your neighbors might be siphoning off your bandwidth for free internet.
By requiring a password to connect to your Wi-Fi, you’ll kick off any layabouts who are stealing internet from you. With a password/new password, their devices will be forced to reconnect; and without the password, off they go.
#10: Get a better internet service provider
If none of these tactics work, then it might be time to consider getting a new internet service provider. As we said earlier, it’s not the tip you want to jump to first (hence its placement at the bottom), but sometimes it’s your ISP that’s the problem.
Typically, you’ll have more than one ISP available in your area - so check them out. We have a roundup of the best ISPs, as well as the best satellite internet and DSL ISPs you can take a gander at, too.
And if those aren’t enough, here’s a few more comparisons worth considering, too: