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Ahhh… the classic, “did you turn it off and on again?” But does it actually work?
More than people want quick access to high speed internet, people want even faster fixes when even the smallest inconvenience occurs. Gamers want to have flawless game play, families want to stream to multiple devices, every worker and their dog (almost literally) is using Zoom at any given moment of the day. We demand a lot, and we don’t really want to pay for it in bandwidth throttling, or in dollars even, really.
So in true american fashion, we’re all trying to figure out how to speed up our internet for free.
One of the quickest and easiest ways on how to speed up your internet router is a classic reboot.
How does the internet even get to your home in the first place?
At its most simple core, your provider “allows” a certain amount of bandwidth (amount of data that can be transferred between hosts) to your home. Most Internet Service Providers (ISP) have tiered internet plans. The more you pay, the better your internet. And that’s on capitalism.
Then you connect. An internet modem and router then take the electrical charges (or pulses of light if you’re using fiber optics) that are sent and convert them into bits of information that your computer can understand. This language (called binary) is then converted to the information that you see on your screen.
Buttons, light waves, electric pulses, one’s and zero’s–there’s a lot of room for error, no? At any given point you can lose bandwidth or information.
The best starting point is to know just how much bandwidth you are getting from your provider in the first place. Run an Internet Speed Test and record your results so you know exactly what you’re getting vs what you’re paying.
The Router Reboot
Now that you know how and why it works, a simple power cycle may be all you need if you’re experiencing speed issues.
Shutting the power off on your router and turning it back on is known as a reboot, or power cycle. A wireless router reboot isn’t a guarantee of better bandwidth, but it can give you some fast speeds for a while.
Understand that the router is just hardware. Within the hardware, software is doing all the heavy lifting. Just like you may have to reboot your computer because it is running slow, the same also applies to a router.
Typically you’re clearing the “cache” or excess information that’s being stored while an operation is running. Occasionally however, the hardware and software stop talking together correctly, if at all. A reboot simply puts them back in sync.
Even if you’re using modem router combos–their ability to receive, decode, and send information can get a little scrambled. A reboot helps it cool down and start over again.
If you’re seeing crappy download speeds across multiple devices, chances are it’s the router. Before you reboot the whole system, check with other users or devices on the wireless network to see if they’re experiencing the same problem. Otherwise, it could be the fault of the individual device.
Best Router to Speed Up Internet
If you’ve rebooted, and run speed tests–and you’re still convinced that it’s your cable modem router, maybe it’s just time to update.
As far as choosing the “best” router or modem option–that’s fairly subjective. Certain boxes work better with certain internet connections than others. Each provider suggests specific hardware for each internet option.
Even based on your zip code, a 2.4 ghz connection speed might work a little more seamlessly than a 5 ghz. You can buy the fastest internet available, and “best” modem or router on the market, and still have incompatibility problems
How to Increase Speed on Your Router
It’s always best to check with your provider and see what hardware they suggest you use, or which is most compatible with their services. Regardless of the plan you’re on, always make sure your modem or router accepts ethernet cables. A wired connection will always provide you with cleaner speeds and less interruptions. In some cases, you can actually improve your overall bandwidth when switching to a wired connection against WiFi.
And if you’re wondering how to get a faster internet speed from your router, the chances are that’s something only the provider can control. Even the companies touting the “best router to improve internet speeds” won’t increase them beyond the bandwidth you’re paying for.
How to Set Internet Speed Limits on a Router
Most routers and modems have instructions on how to access their IP address directly on their body’s. However, unless you’re on a pay-as-you-go plan, it’s not wise to limit speeds. Most plans offer unlimited data and only throttle speeds.
So, ultimately the answer is, yes–unplugging your router can improve Internet speeds from their current state. However, no, it will not improve your overall bandwidth or data caps. Contact your service provider if you feel you’re not getting the speed you’re paying for.
Find out if it’s your router or provider.
Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.