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.
Psst - we've got a big fancy downloadable ebook all about how to boost your broadband speed. The tips in this guide are a perfect starting point - but if you find you need more in-depth info, complete with a glossary and a guide to your router, give the ebook a gander.
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.
Here are our top 5 wireless powerline adapters
|BT Broadband Extender 500 Kit, Powerline Adapter||Extend broadband anywhere around your home - turn any power socket into an internet port. Works with all Broadband providers. Use this kit on its own or link with other HomePlug AV powerline adapters. High speed data transfer (AV500) ideal for downloading music, multiple HD/3D TV streaming, or online gaming via an ethernet cable. Works out of the box||Only£34.00||Buy Now|
|Linksys Powerline AV 4 Port Network Adapter Kit||Turn your home's existing wiring into a digital network - instantly. Data rates up to 200 Mbps. Compatible with other HomePlug devices||Only£26.49||Buy Now|
|TP-LINK PA411KIT AV500 500 Mbps Powerline Adapter Starter Kit- Twin Pack||High-speed data transfer rate up to 500M, ideal for HD video or 3D video streaming. Up to 300 meter range over the home's electrical circuit. Plug and Play operation means no additional wires or configuration required. Patented power-saving mode automatically reduces power consumption by up to 85%. Fully compatible with other TP-Link powerline products|| Only
|NETGEAR XAVB5221-100UKS 1 Port 500 Mbps Powerline Adapter (Pack of 2)||Plug-and-Play - setup in minutes, with no need to configure or install software. Energy-saving - automatically powers down when not in use. Push and Secure - encrypt your Powerline network connections with the touch of a button||Only£29.99||Buy Now|
|D-Link DHP-309AV 200 Mbps Mini Powerline Adapter Starter Kit||Extend Your Network. PowerLine AV+ Speed and Coverage Advantages. Just Plug and Connect. Great Design. Imagine the options||Only£23.42||Buy Now|
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:
Popular broadband deals
|Fibre Unlimited||Faster Fibre (all in pricing)||Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls||Super 50 Fibre Broadband + Talk Weekends|
|Monthly cost £37.40 (for 12 months, then £37.40 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £497.75||Monthly cost £27.00 1st year cost: £349.00||Monthly cost £10.99 (for 12 months, then £26.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £188.83||Monthly cost £9.00 (for 12 months, then £21.00 per month thereafter) 1st year cost: £122.99|
|Up To 38 Mb||Up To 38 Mb||Up To 52 Mb||Up To 50 Mb|
|Pay as you go||Pay as you go||Weekend calls inc.||Weekend calls inc.|
Call Sky on 0800 151 2878
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Call TalkTalk on 0800 049 7843
Mon to Thurs 8am-10pmFri to Sun 8am-9pm
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm
Call Virgin Media on 0808 168 6088
Or you can full list of broadband packages available in your area with our postcode checker, and compare them to find the best deal.
6. Download our ebook
Are none of these tips working? Take a look at our ebook to see if you can find a better solution. And don't worry - it's completely free.
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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.