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There are few things more frustrating than dealing with a slow, laggy internet connection. If you’re like most people, you depend on your WiFi signal to keep you and all of your favorite devices connected to the web—and you could always stand to have a faster internet connection.
Believe it or not, there are a number of ways you can take matters into your own hands and speed up your WiFi without upgrading your internet package. If you’ve been scratching your head wondering “why is my internet so slow?”, we’re here to provide you with eight sound solutions to speed up your connection and turn your slow internet woes into mere things of the past.
Tip #1. Run an internet speed test
Before diving into any DIY fixes, you’ll need to first find answers to the two following questions:
- How much speed should I be getting from my internet service provider (ISP)?
- How much speed am I actually getting from my WiFi connection?
To find the answers to these questions, you will need to conduct an internet speed test and evaluate the details of your existing service plan.
Running an internet speed test can provide important insight into how your WiFi connection is performing. Whether you’re curious to know how quickly you can download files on the web or looking to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth from your provider, an internet speed test tells all.
So, what exactly does an internet speed test do? To simplify, a speed test measures the broadband connection parameters of your internet. This process entails sending a digital file from your ISP’s server and calculating the time it takes to download the file and upload it back to the server.
Traditionally, internet speed tests report on a number of important features including:
- Upload speed
- Download speed
With your internet speed test results, you’ll be able to see where your web connection is failing. You will also have a base to work with to orchestrate a before and after speed test once you’ve put the following measures into practice.
Tip #2. Optimize your router’s settings
It’s a little known secret that a good router can make a world of difference to the speed of your internet. With the right router settings, you can easily improve your household signal strength and connection performance.
- Automate a reboot schedule: Though most newer WiFi routers don’t need to be regularly rerouted, older models will need manual resets to maintain optimal functionality. Gear up with a programmable outlet timer to develop a reboot schedule that works for you.
- Install new firmware: Fortunately for most WiFi users, the vast majority of routers feature dummy-proof settings that make it difficult for you to make any seriously grave mistakes. There are several open-source firmware options available to today’s most popular routers. These firmware installations can help speed things up in an instant.
- Disable old wireless protocols: Outdated wireless protocols, like 802.11g, can significantly slow down entire networks. Newer routers are engineered to run advanced protocols that are better engineered to accommodate modern ISP service offerings. Before making any changes, be sure to consult your router documentation first.
Tip #3: Check your task manager and turn off unwanted background processes
Although the majority of applications and programs on your computer are not constantly hogging up your bandwidth, some are uniquely designed to continuously upload and download data, even without you knowing.
Web browsers are usually the most susceptible culprits as well as online file storage applications or automatic data backup services. These background web hogs can bog down your internet speeds, but on the bright side, they’re easy to manage and eliminate.
For Windows PC users:
Access your Task Manager by either typing “Task Manager” into your search bar or by pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL and selecting the Task Manager from the menu. Within the Task Manager, select “Network” within the “Processes” tab. If there are no programs drawing background data, the percentage will read as 0%. However, if you do see a number above 0 displayed, you can quickly locate it by clicking the number and allowing the Task Manager to sort by top use.
From there, you can safely terminate these applications by right-clicking the program name and selecting “End task.”
For Mac OS X users:
Access your Activity Monitor by launching Spotlight and typing in “Activity Monitor” into the search bar. From the five available tabs, select “Network.” This will allow you to identify which processes are monopolizing your network bandwidth via background activity. To force quit applications, click the “X” located in the top left corner of the Activity Monitor windows.
Tip #4. Set up wireless security
Not only can protecting your home broadband network with a password help speed it up, but it can also safeguard your connection from unwanted and unwelcome guests. If your current home WiFi connection is public, it’s about time you made the switch to a WPA2 encryption. This type of WiFi security requires a password to successfully utilize your internet connection. Be sure to choose a unique password and only share it with people you trust.
Tip #5. Position your router in the perfect spot
Did you know that the location of your WiFi router has a huge impact on the strength of its signal throughout your home? If you’re stumped trying to figure out “why is my internet so slow?”, the reason very well may be that your router is poorly positioned.
Your WiFi router should be placed on an elevated surface with open space and minimal obstructions. Because signals travel perpendicular to your router, it’s important to ensure that your router is not placed on the floor. This will only restrict the signal’s reach. Try to avoid placing your router too close to obstructive materials like concrete or brick as these dense materials can also limit signal availability.
The best spot for a router is a central location within your home. Whether it’s a shelf, table, or countertop, having the router free from walls or other forms of blockage will only strengthen your reception.
Trying to figure out a few wise alternative locations to place your router? Need to know where not to place your router? Check out the tips below for some sound advice.
Best places to put your internet router:
- On a mantle in a high-traffic living room or den
- On a coffee table located in a central hallway or living space
- On a second floor landing
Worst places to put your internet router:
- In a kitchen where other devices, like a microwave, can emit waves that interfere with your signal
- In a corner of your house or in a windowsill where the signal can travel outside
- In a basement
Tip #6: Reboot your router
Sometimes all your high-tech devices need is a good, old-fashioned reset to return back to its original state of flawless functionality. Think of your router as a mini-computer—when it’s been on for days on end, it can get a bit clogged up. Routers are designed to house memory, caches, and operate background processes that eventually slow speeds down. When you reset it, your router can reconnect to all of its essential data channels and provide a smoother, more efficient connection.
To properly and safely reboot your router, follow these four easy steps:
- Unplug the router and modem and wait 30 seconds
- Plug the modem back in and wait at least 60 seconds
- Plug the router back in and wait at least 2 minutes
- Run an internet speed test to check for any improvement
Tip #7: Change your wireless router’s channel
Wireless routers broadcast their signal on specific wavelengths also known as channels. Most routers have at least 14 available channels that typically operate between the 2400 to 2500 Megahertz radio bands.
If you live in an urban or suburban area, odds are fairly likely that your devices are capable of picking up multiple WiFi signals from your neighbors. More densely populated areas where you can pick up several WiFi connections are often home to a number of routers sharing the same channel. The more populated the channel, the more congested the connection and slower your internet speed.
Most routers allow you to manually change channels to reduce the chances and effects of interference. Try switching to channel 1, 6, or 11 via your router settings.
Tip #8. Ask your service provider if you need to reposition your satellite dish
If you have Satellite internet, the reason behind your slow internet problems may be due to poor dish positioning. Not only does your satellite dish need to face a specific direction to give you the best signal strength, but it also needs to be intelligently situated to endure challenging weather conditions. A wind storm could quickly push your dish should have set up your satellite dish to face the right direction.
Before calling up your ISP for a scheduled visit, check the position yourself by making sure your satellite dish points south. Should anything look amiss, contact your service provider to have a technician evaluate and correct the positioning.
Even if you can’t quite figure out an answer to “why is my internet so slow?,” you can make a few effective changes that can speed up your internet connection and leave your days of frustratingly slow internet in the past.
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.