Simple ways to speed up your broadband connection
Fed up with inexplicably lousy broadband speeds? Don't despair! Here's a set of simple steps you can take to help improve your broadband speed and get the most from your internet connection.
Remote working is here to stay and as demand increases for faster broadband, so does the strain on broadband networks throughout Ireland.
That means it's more important than ever to ensure that your broadband is in tip-top shape so that you're getting the most out of your connection.
So what can you do to improve your speed?
Here's a list of 15 tips to get your broadband into better shape...
1. Know your connection’s maximum speed
First things first. Before looking for ways to increase your connection speed (aside from switching) it’s important to know the maximum speed your broadband is capable of to begin with.
It shouldn’t be hard to find out this information, as usually, your provider will have informed you of the maximum speed available when you signed up.
For example, you might be familiar with phrases like “up to 100Mbps” (Megabits per second). Well, a lot of the time our connection might not actually be able to reach these speeds.
This is because there are a few barriers that can affect your broadband speed, and the rest of this article aims to help you remove these barriers.
Our free-to-use Broadband Speed Test will be able to tell you what broadband speeds you’re actually getting.
2. Know your download allowance
Although most broadband plans allow for “unlimited” data these days, it’s still worth checking to see what your provider’s policy is.
If you do have a download allowance, many providers now reduce your speed rather than charge you for exceeding your allowance.
You should be emailed a warning if you exceed your usage allowance, but not always.
So if your broadband is slow, particularly towards the end of your billing cycle, this could be the reason why.
Take a look at this guide to determine whether or not you need unlimited broadband.
3. Make sure your router is up to scratch
If you want to have the fastest speed possible, investing in a decent router is a very good idea, especially if your broadband comes in on poor quality telephone lines.
A good router will lead to improvements in speed and reliability as newer hardware can better handle faster broadband speeds.
A router is a small box that will allow all your wireless devices to connect to the internet all at once.
This is different to a modem, which is a small box that connects your home to a broadband network, which provides internet in the first place.
For more information on this difference, and 20 other important broadband terms, read our guide.
If you’re not sure what kind of router you have, you can always find the model online and look up reviews that will most likely reflect its quality.
If your broadband is a bit slow and your router is more than 3 years old, we recommend contacting your broadband provider to find out if your model can support any recent network updates.
4. Reposition your router
The position of your router can have a big impact on the broadband speed you achieve.
The closer you and your device are to your home’s router, the faster your connection will be. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to place your router in or near the room in which your internet usage is most frequent.
Your broadband speed will also be helped by placing your router in an elevated, clutter-free position to allow for an evenly-distributed signal.
Electrical appliances such as baby monitors and microwaves can affect your router’s signal, as can things such as thick walls and doors.
In order to have as little interference as possible, try to place your router in the direct line of view of your principle browsing spot, whether that’s an office chair at a desktop computer or a comfy couch with a tablet or smartphone on the coffee table.
5. Consider getting a mesh
A mesh is a Wi-Fi device that allows the internet in your home to get to those hard-to-reach rooms where your Wi-Fi is slow.
Everything is part of the same wireless network and shares the same password.
A mesh consists of a main router that connects to your modem, and also multiple satellite modules placed around your home.
These modules catch the Wi-Fi, enhance the signal, and send it to the next, nearest module.
This string of connections avoids signal blockers such as walls, doors, and ceilings that a traditional router is slowed down by.
As a result, the Wi-Fi signal is the same strength everywhere in your home.
6. Use a wired connection when possible
Of course, wireless broadband is the handiest type of broadband connection - especially when it comes to mobile devices, but if you want the fastest and most reliable connection you should use a wired connection where possible.
Wireless networks can be subject to interference and are affected by the size and composition of your home.
Connecting using a wired ethernet (network cable) avoids this problem and can significantly improve speeds, but it obviously is less flexible than a wireless connection.
If you’re looking to extend the reach of your cable, make sure you don’t use a poor quality extension cable (non-ethernet), as this can cause interference and lower your broadband speed.
You can learn more about the different types of broadband connection types in this guide.
7. Make sure your browser is up-to-date
Browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Safari are constantly being updated to increase performance. Ensuring that you are using the latest version of your browser will help maximise your connection speed. When it comes to browsers, it is generally accepted that newer is better.
Also, make sure that your browser isn’t using a lot of unnecessary add-ons such as toolbars or extensions that you don’t want or need. They will slow down your browser’s performance.
8. Clear out your cache and cookies
On the internet, your browser will collect files from each website you visit so that when you return to those same websites, you only need to download small updates from that website.
This process keeps your internet fast, but occasionally, the cache becomes too full, your browser can’t manage it, and error messages begin to appear which slows down your browsing as a result.
To avoid these issues and keep your internet running smoothly, we recommend that you clear your cache every few months.
9. Shut down background applications
Some computer applications such as Skype and Spotify, automatically start up when you turn on your computer.
Many of these applications will use your broadband and slow it down without you knowing; having multiple tabs and windows open at once will also slow your internet down.
To avoid this and improve your broadband speed, close all unused applications, tabs, and windows.
Also don’t forget to consider other devices in your house that could be using a lot of data without you realising!
Devices like Sky boxes, game consoles and such can slow down connections significantly while they are downloading movies, shows, updates and so on.
10. Protect your computer from viruses
Setting up decent anti-virus software is almost a prerequisite to running a computer but did you know that aside from infecting and corrupting your computer, viruses, trojans and worms can use your broadband connection in the background without your knowledge to slow everything down?
Viruses and adware can also cause your computer to slow down considerably which can have the effect of making your broadband connection seem slow.
11. Download computer cleaning software
These useful softwares regularly scan your computer for unused caches, cookies, and history.
Some can even go deep into the files of your computer and find completely unnecessary files.
12. Protect your network
Probably a no-brainer but also something that is easily overlooked; always make sure your broadband connection is password protected to keep freeloaders at bay! The last thing you need is to have your speeds sapped by a neighbour hogging all of your bandwidth without your knowledge!
13. Have you tried turning it off and on again?
Ah, the foolproof solution!
There is a method to the madness though.
We previously mentioned broadband interference, and this generally happens when your signal is physically blocked by something or there are too many devices trying to run off the same channel.
By turning your router off and back on, your router searches for the best channel to reconnect to where there is less interference, resulting in faster internet speeds.
Your broadband connection can run on up to 11 or 13 channels (depending on your router).
So, if your neighbours’ Wi-Fi and your Wi-Fi are both running on channel 1, then your signal will suffer.
It’s preferable to have at least one if not two channels of separation, so if your neighbour is on channel 4 you'll want to be on channel 7 and so on.
Very few routers actually show you which channels surround your house, so most people just leave the router to automatically pick a channel.
However, if you have the right software on your device, you can walk around each room in your home to see what channels you can pick up and then you can manually pick a channel for the router.
It's a good idea to check this again once a month.
14. Call in the experts!
If you’re a total technophobe, or you’d rather not deal with all the above hassle to get the most out of your broadband connection and you’re a Virgin Media customer you’re in luck! Virgin Media launched its "Red House Ninja" service a while back, which sees tech experts visit customers’ homes to ensure that they’re getting the most out of their broadband and entertainment services.
15. When all else fails, switch providers
If you’ve tried all of these steps and you’re still not seeing results it might be time to switch broadband providers!
If you're lucky enough to live in an urban area of Ireland you shouldn't have too many issues finding a broadband provider to cover your needs in terms of speed and coverage.
All of the major providers offer speeds of up to 100Mbps and some even go above and beyond. For instance, Virgin Media offers speeds of up to 250Mbps as standard, with its top-level package now offering a whopping 1,000Mbps.
And if you live in a rural area with slower broadband speeds, you may be included in the National Broadband Plan. This is a Government initiative to bring high-quality, pure fibre broadband to around 540,000 homes and businesses in largely rural parts of Ireland which don't currently have access to a good internet connection.
To discover what broadband networks are available to you and to switch provider, just head over to our broadband comparison service. Start by typing in your address or Eircode and we'll take it from there.
Discover more about broadband
If you found this guide useful, why not check out some of our other broadband guides?
- Our broadband Quickstart Guide is your first point of contact for finding the best deals out there.
- Here’s a list of some of the most frequently asked questions when switching broadband providers.
- There are several things you should keep in mind when comparing the best broadband deals on the market. Here’s a list of 7 important factors to consider.
- Discover the exact steps involved in the broadband switching process in this guide.
- You can review the most common broadband charges in this guide.
Get in touch
Can you think of any other ways to speed up your broadband connection? We’d love to hear from you!