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12 august 2015

How to Improve Your Broadband Speed

How to Improve Your Broadband Speed

Your Internet (broadband) speed depends on many factors: your computer, browser, software, ISP, Wi-Fi and hardware. This article will discuss how you can get the most from your Internet connection.
I recommend that you try the changes in this article before considering switching to a faster, more expensive broadband package.

Computer Settings

Download speeds may be reduced because of incorrect computer settings of the computer. Microsoft Windows default settings are not optimized for the fastest Internet connections. We recommend the free tool TCP Optimizer. It is a small program that takes just a couple of minutes to install and run and changes all the settings needed to maximise your speed. When you run the tool just accept the defaults and it will do the rest. Even Windows 8 comes with default settings that are slowing you down.


You access the Internet by using a browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, etc.). Whichever one you prefer, it is important that you keep it up to date. This will ensure that you have the latest (and fastest) version.
Your browser can also be configured to maximise the speed of your Internet browsing. For example, Chrome automatically pre-fetches (downloads pages in the background) pages it thinks you may want to visit next. Opera has an "off-road mode" that compresses pages before being downloaded (smaller files take less time and pages will load quicker). You can also install extensions or 'add-ons' to your browser to increase your speed such as Firefox's Image Block.

Speed up by talking to the ISP

If you have tried all the advice on this page and you still need a faster connection then you should look at changing the broadband package. Not all packages will be available at your property and the speed you get will vary with distance from the exchange.
To help you choose the best package from all available ISPs:
  1. Enter your postcode in our "speed in my area" page. This will display a map showing the actual speeds recorded in your area including the name of the provider and the package.
  2. When you know that faster Internet IS available then you need to get the best deal. Enter your postcode in our "compare broadband" page and you will see the best deals available at your address.
  3. When you have decided on your new package visit for a guide to switching.

Wireless Connection

If you are using Wi-Fi then please see our web page on How to Improve Wireless Speed.

Software Running In the Background

There are many programs that start running in the background as soon as you log in to the PC. Many of these will need to access the Internet even if they appear to be switched off. These programs may continually upload and download data and not only slow you down but also use up your download allowance. Some applications like Windows updates and security suite updates are essential and should be running all the time but others can be stopped. Go to your task manager by right clicking on the Task bar and look in the Applications Tab to see which applications are running. You can prevent most of these from starting automatically by changing the settings in the program.
To have better and easier control over what programs are running on your computer then use a tool such as PC Speed Up. The free version of PC Speed Up allows you to easily control which programs start when Windows starts PC SpeedUp also optimizes your computer including everything that TCP Optimizer does.


The router or modem that you use also plays an important role in the performance. A better modem or router may give better features such as being able to select ports for gaming etc., and may also have a better firewall. For wireless connections you should position the router to minimize obstructions from walls etc. To see if you are losing speed because of obstructions you should test the wireless speed and check it against the speed you get when using a network cable.

Today many people use wireless routers at home for convenient access to the internet without running cables all over the house. Most are unaware that wireless connections are much less reliable than wired connections and slow broadband may be caused by a problem at home rather than with the ISP service.
If you are using wireless broadband then it's worth trying to connect your PC to the router by network cable and run the speed test. If you find that your connection is faster on wire than on wireless then you have a problem that you should be able to fix without switching broadband.

Problem with Interference from Other Users

Wireless connections work on frequency bands called channels. One of the reasons that Wi-Fi is slow could be that the channel you are using is also being used by your neighbour's wireless router and causing interference. To find out what channel you and your neighbours are using download Netstumbler. {link to open in new tab}Use this simple free utility to see whether you are sharing the channel with other people. One thing to note is that channels are overlapping so it isn't good enough to simply use another channel. You should try to use a channel that has no overlap with your neighbours.
The graphic below shows that a channel can interfere with up to 8 other channels. For example, channel 6 interferes with channels 2 to 10. If your neighbour is using channel 6 you should choose 1 or 11.

Problems with Windows Configuration

Other problem with your wireless broadband might be that your wireless card on your PC may not be optimized for high speeds. The default settings in Microsoft Windows are not configured for higher network speeds (even Windows 8 default settings are not optimized for speed). To test and fix this use TCPOptimizer. Move the speed slider to your desired speed (the speed you expect to get from your ISP), change the radio button to optimal speed and press Apply. After the computer restarts you will notice the speed improvement.

Check that Your Wi-Fi is Not Being Used by Other People

It is very easy for people to use an insecure wireless Internet service without the knowledge of the owner. Apart from the obvious security risk (these users are now trusted members of your network) this usage will slow down the connection speed. An unprotected connection may lead to hacking that allows other users to find out your personal information, such as bank details.
Check your Wi-Fi network by visiting 'My Network Places'. There should be a picture of a padlock next to the name of your network. If this is absent then you need security. We recommend that you install Wi-Fi Protector. This is a free program that has many features that we recommend to keep you secure. The significant feature here is the easy to use analysis of your Wi-Fi security and also any other Wi-Fi connections that you use (coffee shops, airports etc.).
If you discover that your Wi-Fi is insecure then you should configure your router to use a secure password. A wireless encryption key is normally used to make hacking (the term used for someone gaining illegal access to a network) more difficult. Use WPA2-AES because this offers the best security.

Speedup Wireless Connection by Using a Better Aerial

If you are using Wi-Fi at home and experience speed problems then you should consider getting a better aerial. This is normally a few inches tall and is connected to your router. A longer aerial will improve the signal and increase the range of your Wi-Fi. Buying a longer aerial can increase the signal strength by 30-50%.
You can also think of using a wireless access point. This is an additional router that acts as a repeater to extend the reach of your wireless signal.



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