What Is an Internet Speed Hack?

Everyone wants faster Internet. South Korea already runs on a nationwide 4G network but is rolling out 5G before the end of the decade, while Google and other American companies are starting to see the benefits of fiber-optic infrastructure. One option to increase your speed without upgrading an existing connection is an Internet speed hack — but what’s the real deal with them?


Hacking Made Easy?

The idea behind an Internet speed hack is that you’ll be able to bypass the download speed restrictions imposed by your Internet service provider (ISP) and achieve much higher data transfer rates. There are a variety of methods for accomplishing this aim, but almost all share a common theme: You need to download a piece of software that then makes changes to your computer or tablet. In some cases, you’ll be asked to enter the maximum speed desired, while in others you’re promised download rates of 50 megabits per second (Mbps), 100 Mbps, or more. Other methods purport to show you how you can increase your Internet speed by watching a short video — which will likely tell you to shut down all unnecessary background processes and scan for malware. Good advice, but not exactly secret information.

The Bottom Line

A search for “Internet speed hack” turns up a great deal of advertisements but very little in the way of actual research or test results. While it’s possible that this kind of speed-boost software actually gets around the rules of your ISP, it still poses several problems. First, any contract you sign with your provider specifies what download speed you’ll receive and how much you’ll pay. Circumventing this agreement could lead to legal action. If you run a free online speed test and discover you’re not getting the download speed promised, contact your provider. In addition, consider the kind of technology you’re using — older wireless routers can’t handle speeds much faster than 11 Mbps, and when multiple users are connected, this number drops quickly.

The other problem with Internet speed hack programs is that many of them contain malware; it’s never a good idea to download files from any site unless you fully trust the brand and have done research on their products. Once installed on your computer, hack software may execute payloads containing spyware, rootkits, or Trojans. As a result, any personal information you enter online could be compromised, or your device could be used to spread infection. “Free” speed hacks are nothing of the sort, since they can infect your computer with fake antivirus programs or keyloggers. Paid programs aren’t much better and in many cases don’t actually provide an increase to Internet speed. By running regular antivirus scans, minimizing unnecessary processes, and upgrading your router when applicable, you can do the work of most Internet speed hacks.

Internet speed comes at a cost; speed hacks offer a cheap (or free) way around the restrictions of your ISP. In almost all cases, however, these hacks cause more problems than they solve, and your connection won’t get any faster.

Photo credit: Flickr/jpctalbot