People often think slow internet must be down to their broadband provider. But computer settings, wireless hardware or an old PC can all have an impact. Here are our top tips to help you get up to speed:
When your broadband's slow, it's all too easy to start playing the blame game.
"Ooh that bloomin' BT," you might say. "Stupid Sky", "Terrible TalkTalk", or any number of similarly annoyed exclamations about your chosen provider. However, there are tons of things that can have an impact on broadband speeds - from old hardware to poor wiring and more.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to give your internet connection a kick up the proverbial. But before you do any of them…
Test your speed
Before you follow any of these tips, test your internet speed with our speed checker. This will tell you how fast your internet connection really is. You can then use it again to test your speed when you've made your changes and see if there's any impact.
If your Wi-Fi is not password protected, anyone can use it. This means that people might be logging onto your network without you knowing, causing speeds to drop as a result.
Fortunately, most providers now automatically supply you with a password-protected router, but if you don't have one set up, or have turned the password off, secure your network immediately.
To do this:
- Open up your router settings by entering its IP address into your web browser. That's a number that will typically be printed on the router itself somewhere, and look like this:192.168.0.1.
- You may need to log in - the admin password and username will also often be printed on the router, but if it isn't, check with your provider for further instructions. From your settings you can set up a password and secure your Wi-Fi.
If you want more information about Wi-Fi, we have a whole guide on the subject:
Lots of things can impact the strength of a wireless broadband signal - walls, doors, even interference from things like baby monitors. So if you're suffering from slow or unreliable Wi-Fi, try moving your router. Ideally, it should be positioned high up - on top of a bookshelf, for example.
If you want to maximise coverage across the whole house, try sticking it somewhere central, maybe at the top of the stairs. Whatever you do, don't stick your router in a cupboard - you'd be surprised how common a mistake that is!
You could also try getting a 'smart' router that automatically adjusts for interference, such as the BT Home Hub 5.
There are tons of applications on your computer that could be using the internet, possibly some without you even knowing it.
Windows updates, security scans and updates, media player pop-ups, instant chat applications, Skype, open website tabs and more - all these things can eat away at your broadband speed.
To boost your speed, shut down services you don't want, as well as any bandwidth-heavy streaming services like BBC iPlayer and Spotify when you're not using them. To do this:
- On PC, press ALT + CTRL + DEL to bring up task manager to see all programs running and close the ones you don't want.
- Open Activity Log to see a list of everything running. Close down the ones that aren't essential.
You should also delete old files, and clear your browser history - you can do this from your web browser options menu.
Powerline adapters use the electricity power lines in your house to boost your signal from room to room. These are particularly useful if there are rooms in the house where your wireless signal is weak.
Some providers, including TalkTalk, can provide powerline adapters, although you may have to pay for them. You can also buy them from electronics retailers like Maplin, online retailers like Amazon and more.
If you find that your connection is still slow, switching to another provider is possibly the best solution. Companies should be able to do a line test and give you an indication of the speeds you can expect to see before you sign up - make sure you get this information before committing to a package.
Fibre optic broadband will be your fastest option - assuming it's available in your area, of course.
You can see some of the best broadband deals below:
Popular broadband deals
|Broadband: 50Mb + Phone: M||Fibre Unlimited + Talk Weekends||Unlimited Fibre & evening and weekend calls||BT Infinity 1|
|Monthly cost £4.00 (for 8 months) 1st year cost: £52.00||Monthly cost £0.00 (for 6 months, then £20.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £156.95||Monthly cost £3.75 (for 6 months) 1st year cost: £118.43||Monthly cost £7.50 (for 12 months) 1st year cost: £126.95|
|Up To 50 Mb||Up To 38 Mb||Up To 38 Mb||Up To 38 Mb|
|Weekend calls inc.||Weekend calls inc.||Eve & wknd calls inc.||Weekend calls inc.|
Call Virgin Media on 0808 168 6088
Call Sky on 0844 241 1407
Call Plusnet on 0808 178 5954
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Or you can full list of broadband packages available in your area with our postcode checker, and compare them to find the best deal.
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Disclaimer: The content on this page was not provided or commissioned by any of the providers or operators mentioned. The opinions expressed are the author's alone, and have not been approved, reviewed or otherwise endorsed by providers or operators. Links to providers and operators on this page make us money if you sign up to a deal, but do not increase the amount you pay. For more on how we make money, read about us.