We teach you how to increase Internet speed and consistency. While it isn't possible to increase your Internet speed past the speed for which you're paying your Internet Service Provider, most people don't get the most out of their Internet connections. By applying a mixture of general fixes, hardware solutions, and software updates—including changing your computer's DNS settings—you can optimize your Internet connection for speed.
Understand what might be causing slow Internet speed. There are virtually countless reasons why your Internet might not be performing as you expect it to, but a few common reasons include the following:
- Old software or hardware
- Too many other computers or mobile items on the network
- Ongoing downloads
- Signal interference from walls or other appliances
- Low Internet speed from your Internet Service Provider
Check your Internet speed. You pay for a certain amount of Mbps (megabits) per second of upload and download speed; checking your actual upload and download speed will give you an approximate idea of how close you are to the advertised speed.
- Many Internet Service Providers advertise speeds of “up to” a certain number, meaning that the top speed itself isn't guaranteed.
- Most of the time, your computer's highest upload or download speed will be a little bit lower than the advertised speed. If the actual speed is close to the advertised speed, your ISP isn't the problem.
Compare your speed results against your plan. Check your service plan to see what speed you are paying for, then compare that number with the actual speed that you found. If the speeds aren't anywhere close to each other, you'll need to call your ISP.
- If you haven't upgraded your internet in a long time, you may be able to find faster internet for lower prices. Check all of the providers in your area.
- Don't fall for the megabit/megabyte trap. ISPs advertise in megabits, not megabytes. There are 8 megabits (Mb) in a megabyte (MB), so if you are paying for 25 megabits per second (Mbps), then that's just over 3 megabytes per second (MBps) of actual transfer speed.
Decrease the distance between your computer and your router. If you are connected to the internet via a Wi-Fi router, you'll find that your Internet speed drops as you move further away from your router. Stay as close as possible to your router for maximum Internet speed.
- Make sure that your router and your computer have plenty of room all the way around to prevent overheating.
Establish a line of sight between your computer and the router. If your router's signal has to travel through even one wall or appliance (e.g., a refrigerator), its signal will be weakened. A good rule of thumb is to have your router visible from where you're using your computer or mobile at all times.
- If your router is on a different floor than you, you may not even be able to receive a signal.
Minimize the number of items on the network. Like a freeway, your Wi-Fi network can only handle a certain amount of traffic before it slows down. If possible, make sure that your computer is the only connection to your router; this will give you the best Internet results.
- It isn't always feasible to limit Internet access to one computer, but you can turn off and unplug things like smart TVs, extra computers, video game consoles, and anything else (e.g., an extra smartphone or tablet) that maintains an Internet connection even when turned off.
Use Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi. Most computers can plug directly into the back of the router using an Ethernet cable, which removes the lag time between the router's signal departing and your computer receiving the signal.
- If you use a Mac computer, you'll most likely need an Ethernet to USB-C adapter if you want to plug your computer into the router.
- You cannot connect mobile platforms (e.g., smartphones and tablets) to Ethernet.
Determine how old your hardware is. Routers, modems, computers, smartphones, and tablets all suffer a certain amount of depreciation after a few years. If one or more of these items is exceptionally older—four or more years, to be precise—you will invariably encounter some Internet problems.
- Unfortunately, the best solution to old technology is purchasing new technology.
- Another situation in which you'll notice problems is if you recently installed a brand-new operating system on an old computer or mobile platform.
- Especially if your router and/or modem is more than three years old, you'll want to upgrade to a more recent model.
Unplug your router and modem for a few minutes. This is commonly known as “power-cycling”, and it allows your router to clear out its internal cache and start from scratch. Restarting your router will also prompt it to re-select the least busy Wi-Fi channel, which is something that may change daily depending on your location.
- You can program your router to restart itself daily from within its settings page.
Expert Trick: If you're on your phone or computer and your internet seems slow, try connecting on another device. If it's also slow on that device, you'll know the problem is with the internet. If that's the case, turn off both your modem and your router for 30 seconds, then turn them back on and wait 5 minutes. If that doesn't work, call your internet service provider. They'll run an automated test on their end to make sure your modem is working properly.
Upgrade your router's firmware. Out-of-date router firmware can prevent your router from maintaining a consistent connection. This is a process that varies from router to router, so you'll need to check your router's manual to verify the process. Typically, though, you'll go to the router's settings page, find the Update or Install Firmware button, and click it.
- This is especially important if you just bought a brand-new router, or if you use a router that's more than a year or two old.
Reposition your router. Line-of-sight between your work area and your router is important, but it doesn't matter if there are several dampening appliances near the router. Dampening appliances can be anything from baby monitors to microwaves to refrigerators, so make sure that your router is far away from these items.
- Your router should also be up relatively high. If your router is at a lower level that the level at which you use your computer, phone, tablet, and so on, you'll probably run into Internet connection issues.
Restart any Internet-connected items. The old “turn it off and then on again” method actually works quite well when it comes to resetting an Internet connection, especially when using an item that hasn't been turned completely off in several days.
Use a Wi-Fi range extender. Wi-Fi range extenders are small items that receive your router's Wi-Fi signal and amplify it, allowing your Wi-Fi to reach you in places that it previously couldn't. Wi-Fi range extenders can cost upward of $50, but they're often cheaper than buying a new router.
- You can always make your own range extender if you have a spare aluminum can.
- Make sure that your selected range extender will work with your model of router before buying one.
Buy a new router. As mentioned previously, there's only so much that you can do with old technology. If your router and/or modem is more than a few years old, buying a new one will almost certainly increase your Internet speed and reception.
- Make sure that you check out the next section of this article before spending any money. and Enhance your Skills by Increase Internet Speed.