Tips and tricks on how to improve your broadband speed

Our broadband services rarely reach the advertised speed which our Internet service provider (ISP) advertises. The advertised speed is a  theoretical maximum speed only, and there are a number of reasons why that speed may never be achieved.

There are some factors which may affect the speed of your broadband service, which can be impractical and expensive to change once you have already chosen an ISP and plan such as:
•    The distance your property is from the local telephone exchange
•    The contention ratio (or network congestion)
•    The quality of your telephone copper wire

However, there are some smaller steps you can take to ensure you are getting the most out of your broadband speed:

1.    Clear your web history and caches
While keeping your web browser’s more recent caches (web pages, cookies, images, etc) will help to load regularly visited web pages quickly, it is important to regularly remove older history. This will help to display the most recent changes made to websites, and help your browser and computer to run faster.

2.    Have you tried switching it off then on again?
This is one tip for even the most tech-fearful internet users. The rule applies to your PC or laptop, your modem and router. Switch each device off then on again. Sometimes people like a fresh start, and technology is no different.

3.    Change the position of your router
Ensure your router is positioned in an area with as few potential interferences as possible, such as any appliances that emit wireless signals. Try to position your router in an area which has as few walls or doors as possible between your computer/s and router. Aim to have the router as close to your PC as possible. In addition, ensure your router’s aerial is sitting vertically, and free the router from any electrical wires covering it.

4.    Upgrade your hardware
It may be time to spend a bit more money to get more speed. Some modems are faster than others, and make sure you are using a reputable brand. Speak to your internet service provider to make sure it is configured properly.

5.    Ditch wireless altogether and use an ethernet cable
Whenever you connect your computer or laptop via a Wi-Fi signal, no matter how fantastic your router is there will always be some transmission loss. If it’s not entirely impractical to plug your computer straight into your modem via an ethernet cable, make this change and you’ll marvel at the difference in speed this makes.

6.    Only run web applications that you need

If you run too many web applications, the speed of both your internet and computer will be sacrificed. Some web applications start automatically, and you could be surprised by what applications are operating in the background. Check the settings of these web applications (Windows updates, email programs, Skype, other webpages...) and make sure they don’t start automatically. These settings will also help to keep your download usage to a minimum.

7.    Use a faster web browser
Your web browser is your gateway to the internet. If it’s running slowly, your internet will run slowly. Some web browsers are faster than others; Firefox is faster than Internet Explorer, and according to many tech sites, Google Chrome is “insanely fast.” Make sure you upgrade your browser to the latest version when web browser updates become available.

8.    If you have set up a wireless network in your home, make sure it is password-protected

While your neighbours may be just lovely, it doesn’t mean you have to share your broadband internet with them. If there’s no password on your network, neighbours, being the nearby people they are, can access your Wi-Fi network from their own computers. Not only will this mean they are using up some of your download, but the more computers which are connected to your network, the slower the speed.

9.    Time heavy downloads so you can avoid sitting in peak hour traffic
If you plan to do some heavier downloading, it may be best to wait till off peak hours (around 11pm till 9am) when fewer people are using the internet. Network congestion can slow your speed down tremendously. There are programs that allow you to set your downloads to run during specified times.