Boost your internet and Wi-Fi: Top 5 tips for faster broadband

Boost WiFi

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.

1. Secure your Wi-Fi

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:


2. Move your router

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.

Speed

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 Smart Hub.

3. Clean up your computer

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.

Big Ben and Parliament at night


4. Get a powerline adapter

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.

Alternatively, you can buy and use your own. There are plenty to choose from - here are some on Amazon.co.uk:

5. Switch broadband

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 - and if they don't deliver, you may have the right to cancel your contract. Read more about Ofcom's rule on this.

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:

Best buy deals
  • Superfast 1
    Unlimited Usage
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 35Mbps
    • Pay As You Go phone
    • £21.00 per month
    18 month contract
  • Superfast Fibre + Weekend Calls
    £80 BT Prepaid Mastercard® + Fitbit Charge 3 (offer ends 01/11/18)
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 50Mbps
    • £19.99 up-front costs
    • Weekend calls inc.
    • Offer ends
    • £31.99 per month
    18 month contract
  • Faster Fibre
    No Price Rises!
    • Average speed* 36Mbps
    • Pay as you go calls
    • £22.50 per month
    18 month contract
  • Unlimited Fibre
    Unlimited Monthly Usage
    • Average speed* 36Mbps
    • Pay as you go phone
    • Offer ends
    • £23.99 per month
    18 month contract
  • Unlimited Fibre Broadband + Weekend Calls
    Unlimited Broadband
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 35Mbps
    • £30.00 up-front costs
    • Weekend calls inc.
    • £28.00 per month
    18 month contract

*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time (8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.

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.

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