Speed up slow broadband
By Jon Barrow
Speed up slow broadband
If you're regularly frustrated by your slow connection then read our top tips to help speed things up.
A slow broadband connection can be a misery. You could end up paying every month for broadband speeds that you'll never be able to fully enjoy.
However, taking a few simple steps can help maximise your download speeds.
These tips won't change the broadband speed coming in to your house so if you've done all you can and it's still not enough, then consider switching to a faster fibre broadband deal.
1 - Test your speed
Find out just how slow your connection is by using our free broadband speed checker.
This will tell you the actual download speed you're receiving – you can then see if this improves once you've followed the other advice in this guide. If it doesn't then you can use your speed readings when contacting your provider to complain.
Remember though that a low speed reading doesn't necessarily mean that the speed into your house is slow or that your provider isn't delivering the speeds that it promised. It could be that the set up in your house is slowing down your signal - fortunately the tips in this guide can help minimise any such interference.
2 – Position your router sensibly
If, like most people, you use a wi-fi network to connect your computing devices to your router then you need to position your router where it can be most effective. You'll get the best coverage if you're able to place it somewhere central – if you put it next to a window then half of your signal will be sent outside.
Be aware that lots of things can impact the strength of a wireless broadband signal - walls, doors, even interference from electrical equipment such as baby monitors. Your best bet is to stick your router high up where the signal won't be impeded - on top of a bookshelf, for example. Never put it in a cupboard, or behind a TV or fish tank.
3 – And keep it switched on
Some people turn their routers off when they're not using them. Don't - when you switch it off it makes it appear that your broadband is disconnecting. This makes the line look unstable and can lead to your speed being automatically reduced to make the line more reliable.
4 – Consider a wired connection
If you don't need a wireless network – for example if you only connect to the internet from a single static device, such as a desktop computer - then use a wired connection. This will give faster speeds than a wireless one.
5 – Use the correct sockets
If you've got more than one phone point in your house, then try to connect your router to the master socket (the one where your BT phone line comes into the house).
If you do have multiple phone sockets around your house, and the faceplate on the master socket just has one connection point, then you'll need to connect a microfilter (a small white box with a phone lead or connector on it) for every phone or fax that you've plugged in.
6 - Don't use extension cables
Don't connect your router to the master socket using a long telephone extension lead. Instead it's much better to move your router closer to the master socket, enabling you to connect it with the supplied lead. If you then want to run a wired connection from your router to your device you should use a more efficient ethernet cable - these don't cost much (typically around £1/m) and are available from most electrical stores.
If can't really can't move your router then you should use a good quality ADSL extension cable, rather than a telephone extension lead, to connect it to the master socket.
7 - Update your hardware
Upgrading your wireless broadband router could make a real difference to the speed of your broadband connection, especially if your current router is a few years old.
If you've been with the same provider for ages then ask your provider if they've updated their equipment and, if they have, whether you can be sent a new box. And if you need to buy a new box of your own then make sure you choose one of our Best Buy wireless routers.
8 - Get a powerline adapter
If wireless range is a problem then consider buying a set of powerline adapters. These simple-to-install devices use your home's power lines to create a network and this can be much faster than a wireless one powered by a distant router.
9 - Secure your wi-fi
If your wireless broadband network isn't secure then people in the local area may be logging on to it and sharing your broadband connection. This will decrease your own broadband speeds.
It's important to set a secure password, so that only people who know the password can access your broadband connection.
10 - Spring clean your computer
Every time you access a web page through your browser, the browser stores or 'caches' it. Periodically clearing out your browser's cache will help it to function more efficiently.
Also update your online browser – such as Google Chrome or Internet Explorer - as outdated versions might mean slower download speeds. And check your anti-virus software is up to date too as viruses, trojans and worms can use your broadband connection which can make your speeds seem to slow.
Still getting slow speeds?
If you've followed all these steps and are still suffering slow speeds then you should contact your broadband provider to see if they can fix the problem. If they can't then they may have to release you from your contract – our guide to your broadband consumer rights will tell you everything you need to know.
And if you're out of contract then you should consider changing provider – our guide on how to switch broadband provider shows you the simple steps you need to follow.