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Avoid the dreaded upgrade with these 7 internet speed tricks

by Kayla Matthews | December 17, 2017December 17, 2017 8:00 am PST

With the popularity of streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, people crave blazing fast internet speeds — and you can probably relate.

Clicking a link and waiting several seconds or even longer for the content to load is frustrating. If your current speed capabilities leave much to be desired, don’t worry.

There are numerous things you can do to improve the issue without upgrading to a speedier internet plan.

Here are seven of them.

1. Update Your Router’s Firmware

Can’t remember the last time you checked the firmware version associated with your router? If so, there’s a good chance it’s too outdated, causing abnormally slow internet speeds. Think of the firmware as the router’s operating system. In addition to potentially impacting speeds, old firmware could also put you at risk for security vulnerabilities.

The process for updating your firmware varies slightly depending on your router’s brand. It generally involves typing in an IP address associated with the router manufacturer, then using it to access an administrator’s control panel that lets you check for available upgrades.

2. Limit Interference Through Ideal Router Placement

Similarly to the way you might get better mobile phone reception in a certain part of a building than another, your router’s location matters. At first, you might think that placing the router in the center of your home is the best option. Indeed, doing that might create the least amount of interference, but that’s not the case in every situation.

Putting the router in a spot that’s away from walls is a good first step. However, you should also keep it away from chimneys. Doing those two things gives your router plenty of room to radiate its signal in all directions.

3. Reboot the Router Once a Day

If you’ve ever called a tech support number for any malfunctioning product, there’s a good chance the person on the other end of the line asked if you’d tried turning it off and on again. That’s because reboots can work wonders for many gadgets, including your router.

It’s a good idea to get in the habit of rebooting your router once a day. Some firmware versions even let you schedule timed reboots. That option works especially well to limit interruptions. You can set the router to reset while you’re asleep and you’ll never notice when it does its thing — but you may notice faster speeds.

4. Tweak QoS Settings

When lots of people want to go online at once in your household, the internet becomes like a busy highway.

Everyone carves out a piece of the internet for their own purposes, but if too many people overextend their usage, it grinds down the overall speed for all users. That reality is why, when buying internet access for business or personal use, individuals often struggle to estimate bandwidth needs.

Particular devices or applications on a network need minimum amounts of bandwidth to perform reliably. However, there are others that may take more than necessary.

Thankfully, you can adjust your quality of service (QoS) settings through your router’s administrative options to prioritize bandwidth for applications that truly require more of it.

This trick doesn’t speed up your network as a whole, but it usually leads to faster speeds for intensive apps, such as Skype.

5. Use Wired Connections When Possible

Wireless-enabled devices are convenient, but they could slow down your wireless speeds. Consider checking to see whether any of the gadgets you use most often have Ethernet ports.

If they do, experiment with changing the configuration of your tech setup and using a mixture of wireless and wired connections. You may find that besides making your network perform faster, this tip gives more stability for certain applications, such as video games.

6. Invest in a Better Wireless Antenna

Numerous manufacturers make antennas you can attach to your router to boost the signal. It’s easy to find one for less than $20.

That accessory is a good one to try if you want to make your router work better but don’t want to go as far as purchasing a new internet plan.

7. Choose the Best Wireless Channel

Most wireless routers have a channel switching function with an auto setting, and people just leave it on that option without exploring the other choices. However, you may find that a different possibility other than the automatically selected one works better for your needs.

When you’re in a crowded area, such as an apartment building with your neighbors close by, channels 1, 6 and 11 usually provide the least interference and most throughput. If you have a 5 GHz router, you can trust that the one it chooses for you is best, because those have built-in channel-selecting technology. However, if your router is several years old, try the channel suggestions above.

You can also use a channel selection app that performs a scan and tells you which one to pick. Consider installing one of those on your computer if you feel timid about switching between channels on your own to discover the one that gives you the best speeds.

As you can see from this tips list, achieving better internet speeds doesn’t always mean shelling out more cash for another plan from your provider.

Some of these options involve spending a bit of money, but nothing compared to what you’d likely pay for a different service package.

By working your way through these possibilities, you could enjoy smoother browsing experiences while using the internet.

Image by Rawpixel


Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a writer and tech blogger, talking about connected devices and smart tech on websites like MakeUseOf, VentureBeat, Motherboard and...

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