Whether you’re streaming HD videos on Netflix, or hosting a conference call on Zoom; fast and reliable internet is critical if you want your experience online to be as seamless as possible. How do you make sure your home internet is fast enough to handle all of your online needs? I’ve compiled the following list of tips to help you speed up your home internet connection.
Determine the Bandwidth Provided By Your Internet Service Provider
Determining your bandwidth (aka maximum download/upload speed) is a great place to start troubleshooting your slow internet problems. You can usually find this information within the contract from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Theoretically an internet plan with a download speed of 30 Mb/s should be enough to stream Netflix in Ultra HD quality. It is important to note that the download speed provided by your ISP is the maximum speed that can be achieved by your entire home network & not per device, meaning it would be impossible to have 2 devices streaming Netflix in Ultra HD quality at the same time on a 30 Mbps internet plan. I generally recommend a minimum download speed of 150Mb/s for the average 2-3 person household and 300 Mb/s for 4 people or internet heavy households.
Once you have determined what your maximum bandwidth is then you will want to test your actual speed by running a speed test. This can be done easily by using the tool at speedtest.net. To get the most accurate measurement use the speed testing tool provided by your ISP by Googling “<Your-ISP> Speed Test” (i.e AT&T Speed Test). If your speed test results show a substantial difference from the speed provided by your ISP and you have run the test on multiple computers, then it is likely that your router is bottlenecking your internet traffic.
Upgrade Your Old Router
If your router is older then 4 years old then it’s definitely time to buy a new one. Your internet is only as fast as the slowest point across your entire internet connection. It doesn’t matter if you have a Gigabit(1000 Mb/s) connection from your ISP if your router can only go up to 100 Mb/s, you will always be bottlenecked at 100 Mb/s.
Many of the latest routers can support Gigabit internet and include features like QoS which will prioritize more important traffic such as a video stream over lesser traffic like loading a regular web page (e.g. this post). Other notable features to look for are routers that support Mesh Wi-Fi such as Eero or Google Wi-Fi. Unlike traditional Wi-Fi routers which provide a single “umbrella” of coverage, a mesh Wi-Fi system will provide a “blanket” of seamless internet coverage across your home by using multiple routers to repeat the signal. If you like to work from multiple spots around your home and often experience Wi-Fi dead-zones then a mesh Wi-Fi system is best for you.
Keep Your Router’s Firmware Up to Date
Although some routers can automatically update themselves when a new firmware update is available, the majority of routers currently on the market cannot. Checking for firmware updates every 6 months is the best way to make sure you are getting top performance out of your router and ensuring the latest security patches are installed. If updating your router’s firmware yourself sounds daunting then you will want to make sure that the next router you purchase includes automatic firmware updates.
Use Ethernet Instead of Wi-Fi
The easiest way to speed up your home internet connection is to directly wire your computer to your router using an Ethernet cable instead of using Wi-Fi. There are a few factors that can slow down your Wi-Fi connection that will result in an increase in packet loss and an overall slower internet connection. On the other hand, data packets traveling over ethernet experience a lot less interference resulting in less packet loss, less network congestion, and an overall faster internet connection.