If you're constantly staring at your router and mentally
screaming 'make my internet go faster!' Then you need our handy
guide to speeding up your broadband. While slow internet can be
frustrating, the good news is that sometimes the issue is something
really simple that you can iron out in a matter of minutes. If all
else fails you can switch to a faster service, but first why not
try these free tips on making your broadband go faster?
Alternatively, have a peek at Ofcom's broadband speeds FAQ for some
useful info on what sort of speeds you should be expecting.
Why is my internet so slow?
Here's something that not everyone knows - the speed of your
broadband service isn't just dependent on your ISP and the package
you've signed up for. There are lots of reasons why your internet
might be acting up, and Masterchef isn't loading on iPlayer.
Reasons for slow broadband:
- Temporary service interruptions. When your ISP is performing
maintenance, there is an issue with the network or bad weather is
interrupting the signal. If this is the case, a notice should be
displayed on your ISP's website and you should be able to find out
when the network is expected to return to normal by telephoning
- Downloading large files at peak times. Most ISPs apply traffic
management policies, which prevent users from downloading lots of
content at times when everyone in the local area is trying to read
their emails or catch up with Facebook, between 7 and 11pm. By
metering out the speeds, ISPs can ensure everyone is able to access
- Using an extension cable to connect your Router to your
telephone socket. Don't do it, unless you have to. Make sure your
router is connected to your main telephone socket instead of any
ancilary ones, and make sure that there is the shortest distance
possible between the router and the socket
- Using out of date web browsers. Make sure that you are using
the latest version of your preferred web browser, in case any
speed-improving updates have been released
- Cache-clogging data. Go ahead and clear your web browser's
cache regularly, removing the temporary browsing files that can
mount up and slow down your browsing experience
- Connection issues. If you're having trouble loading a
particular website, try flushing your DNS settings: Type CMD into
the 'run' box of your startup bar, then type 'ipconfig flushdns'.
This effectively resets your internet connection and can prevent
some loading issues
- Old hardware. If you've had the same router and digital set top
box for a really long time, your ISP has probably upgraded and is
offering better hardware to new customers. You could be entitled to
a free hardware upgrade, which could improve your speeds
dramatically. Give your ISP a call and explain you're having
internet speed issues, roughly when your hardware was issued, and
ask if they would be able to provide new equipment
Know your maximum broadband speed
Before you start worrying about a problem with your service,
check the maximum internet speeds for your broadband package. If
you signed up to a basic broadband deal with speeds up to 8Mbps,
it's unrealistic to expect fast internet. If you see a huge
discrepancy between your 'up to' and 'actual' speeds, there's an
issue to be resolved.
Test your current broadband speeds
Are your actual speeds nowhere near the advertised "up to"
speeds for your package? There are some practical steps you can
take to speed up your broadband for free, and the good news is
they're pretty simple. Here's what to try:
Reset your router, flush DNS settings, clear your web browser's
These steps effectively reset your connection and clear up any
glitches. Turn your router, set top box and laptop's Wi-Fi receiver
off, wait for 30 seconds, then turn them back on again. Follow the
steps above to flush your DNS settings, and clear your web
browser's cache using the tools option under settings.
Update your web browser and your antivirus software
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
Move your router closer to your telephone
socket and connect any devices you can via ethernet instead of
wirelessly. If your router is currently connected to an extension
cord or a secondary telephone socket, move it to be within easy
reach of your main telephone socket.
Take control of your start up programmes
Do you know which programmes are running every time you start up
your computer, updating themselves and sending data to the web?
You'd be surprised about how many programmes set themselves by
default to automatically run when you start up your computer - Java
and iTunes are two of the most frustrating culprits. You can use a
free registry cleaner programme to analyse what's running when you
log onto your PC, and to tell programmes to stop starting up by
Don't allow download managers to run constantly in the
If you use download managers to organise files you are receiving
from websites, make sure that you turn them off after completing
all of your downloads. This prevents them from constantly sending
and receiving information, freeing up bandwidth.
Set a password for your router
If you don't set a password for your wireless router, anyone
could access it and leech your bandwidth, causing your internet
speeds to slow to a crawl. Even worse, an unsecured wireless
network is vulnerable to attacks from hackers who may access it to
retrieve your personal information or perform illegal activities.
Make sure your password is complex enough that it can't be guessed,
with upper case, lower case and numerical characters.
Change the channel on your wireless router
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.
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.
Check if electrical equipment is interfering with your wireless
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.
Hopefully by now your broadband is working better and your
internet speeds have improved, but if not, give our Switching
Support experts a call and they'll happily find the fastest
broadband deal available in your local area, then organise
everything to switch you over - even installation.