DO: know your maximum speed
Before you start plugging and unplugging things and possibly
shouting at your ISP customer service team, just double check that
the slow speed you're getting is actually less than what you've
paid for. There is not point in complaining about a 2Mbps download
speed when that's the maximum on the package you've signed up for.
Compare what you should be getting with what you actually have, and
if it's significantly less then you should move on to the next
DO: turn everything off... and then
Yes, you've heard it a thousand times before, but resetting
everything really can solve a lot of minor glitches. Turning off
the modem and router, and whichever device you're using, and then
on again, only takes a minute and can be very effective.
DON'T: ignore what's behind the
Are you downloading files through Peer-to-Peer networks (file
sharing) or Torrents while trying to watch the latest show via BBC
iPlayer? Are programs auto-updating in the background without you
realising? This is the ultimate recipe for a super-slow broadband
speed. All of the programmes mentioned above use a lot of
bandwidth, thus making your connection function at a snail's-pace.
If your internet has become unusually slow, have a look at what
features are currently enabled and if they are not crucial, turn
DON'T: leave your Wi-Fi without a
It is crucial to protect your wireless network as people might
be "leeching" from your connection thus slowing it down
significantly. Be wary, these days any old password just won't do.
To be on the safe side, the best password is a five or six word
long sentence with capital letters and punctuation, such as
"Ireallycan'tstandMarmite!" It's easy for you to remember and type,
but with all those possible combinations of letters, it's hard for
a computer to guess. Make sure it's not something anybody else
would know though; that is the most common way hackers find out a
DO: be aware of throttling
To ensure that all customers are treated equally, suppliers
apply a method called throttling. This means that during peak hours
(think 6pm-9pm on a weekday) your connection is likely to be much
slower than any other hour of the day. This is why it would be wise
to wait for the connection to speed up. If you noticed that your
connection is much slower than it was in the beginning of the
month, double check how much of your data allowance you have used
up. If you have gone over, your ISP might be penalising you for it
by slowing down your services.
DO: plug it in
Wireless broadband signals get weaker because of thick walls,
closed doors and distance. If you live in a big house which has a
lot of electrical equipment switched on you might want to go for
wired rather than wireless. Simply connect your computer directly
to the router using an ethernet cable. This can speed up your
connection in a matter of seconds.
DO: pick up the phone and speak to
If you've got this far and your connection is still slower than
expected, give your provider a call. If you're expecting speeds of
40Mbps and getting only 3Mbps, it's possible that something went
wrong with your order. Give your provider a buzz to resolve the
issue. You might have been put on the wrong package by mistake or
there simply might be a technical issue which your supplier is
trying to resolve. Find your provider's customer service number on
our handy table.
If the supplier says there's nothing wrong, we've still
got a few more tricks and tips for you to try.
DON'T: forget to upgrade your
Don't expect to get lightning-fast speeds from old equipment.
When signing up for a broadband deal, make sure your provider
supplies you with a new, good quality N-rated wireless standard
(the latest generation of Wi-Fi) router. If you think it's faulty,
don't hesitate to ask for a replacement. Equally, you can't expect
an old computer to cope with fibre optic broadband speeds. It may
be the case that it's your 10 year old laptop that needs to be
changed rather than the router.
DON'T: use an extension cable if
The longer the cable between the phone socket and the router,
the slower your connection speed will be - so try to keep it short.
If you need to use an extension because your phone sockets are
quite well tucked away, keep it to a minimal length and make sure
it's good quality. Old, tangled and knotted cables can slow down
your connection considerably.
DO: change the channel on your
Wireless networks operate on different channels, and when lots
of nearby networks are all using the same one (i.e. your
neighbours) this can cause interference and slow your connection.
In some cases, you can manually change the channel on your router
to the least busy, but this is quite a technical process and many
modern routers actually do this automatically. Our first
recommendation is to check your router manual for information on
how the router channel is set up. If you want to go ahead and make
a change, follow this detailed tutorial
from How to Geek. Be warned though, this stuff gets technical
so make sure you put your reading glasses on.
DO: use microfilters
A microfilter is a small plastic device which looks a bit like a
telephone adapter and you can pick one up from any decent
electrical store for a few pounds. It allows your broadband
connection to run smoothly alongside your home phone service
without interfering with one another. This is why they are
sometimes called signal splitters. Not using microfilters may
result in unusually slow broadband and noise when calling. All the
equipment you have that runs via the phone system (i.e. telephones,
faxes) should be connected using a microfilter.
DO: make sure your antivirus is
An expired antivirus software stops updating its library which
leaves your machine susceptible to newly created malware, spyware,
Trojans and other nasty viruses. These can slow down your computer
generally, and in some cases may be using your bandwidth to
download or upload additional data. Always make sure that your
computer is protected and that your antivirus programme is up to
date. In addition, an old unregistered antivirus programme can
start swallowing your precious bandwidth as it will keep trying to
update itself in circles until you manually delete it or re-install
DO: update your browser
Websites tend to load up faster on newer browsers. If you are
still using IE6, you might want to download the latest version of
Internet Explorer or alternatively get the newest versions of
Firefox or Chrome.
DO: check if electrical equipment is
It might sound silly but it's worth knowing that other
electrical equipment such as microwaves or even Christmas tree
lights can interfere with wireless signals. Try switching them off
when you are browsing, or if that's not possible - try keeping your
router as far as you can from them.