Planning Your Route(R) – How To Speed Up Your Broadband Connection Without Changing Your Internet Provider

Almost everyone uses the Internet in some capacity, especially now even the most rudimentary connections are capable of downloading whole movies and albums with relative ease. It’s important, though, to try and get the most out of the available connection, whether you use it for work or for business. These techniques can help:

Position the router carefully

It’s an unfortunate fact that many ‘standard’ routers provided by broadband companies aren’t as powerful as they could be. Indeed, many people choose to buy a new model from a third-party network router manufacturer in order to help strengthen the signal. However, anyone who needs to make the most out of what they’ve got should try to move the router around within the house to find the position which send out the strongest signal. The key is to look for a combination of the best coverage – it should be possible to access the net all over the house – and the fastest speeds. Popular areas include the hallway and the living room.

Have a chat with your provider

Ofcom, the British consumer watchdog, conducted a survey back in November of last year that showed the average UK broadband speed to be around 12.7mb. However, many British homes still aren’t receiving the top speeds, and some are even still staggering along in single figures. It’s worth using an online speed tester to check how the connection performs against the advertised ‘headline’ speeds.

Remember, the headline speed that people sign up for (i.e. the one that’s advertised, possibly using Olympic athletes) isn’t always the one they get – those breakneck connections are reserved for things like defence satellite communications! Anyone looking for more should consider talking to their service provider to try and haggle an upgrade, especially if they’ve been on their current contract for more than a year or so. Alternatively, you can talk to a network specialist company, who can take an objective look at your set-up and make some recommendations as to how you could improve things.

Ensure you’re secure

One of the most common drags on Internet speed is too many people using it at once: something that anyone who’s lived in a home with four people or more will have experienced! However, connections are often dragged down not by housemates, but by people in the vicinity – such as next door neighbours – using wireless to reach the router. It’s important to set up an encryption on the line to prevent externals connecting: fortunately, this can normally be done when installing the network.

Minimise the overheads

There are some web-based connections that more or less everyone is aware of: browsers, e-mails, online gaming, etc. However, there are a lot of other apps that many aren’t as well known, but are just as guilty of using up bandwidth. Windows updates, anti-virus software, communication programmes such as Skype and a host of others all use the Internet in some capacity, even if it’s not in an obvious way.

This type of software is often automatically configured to open as soon as the computer is turned on, which means it’s not even notifying the owner about what it’s doing! By visiting the ‘task manager’, it’s possible to see which programmes are booting on start-up, and to block them from doing so. As well as increasing available bandwidth, this can often improve the speed with which the computer boots up.

Get a boost in your antenna

In some cases, the problems lie not with the body of the router provided, but with the antenna used to push out the signal. There are two ways to combat this: bite the bullet and upgrade the router, or – for anyone DIY savvy – to create a home-made antenna booster or reflector to help amplify the signal. This might sound a bit ridiculous, but it’s actually relatively common: there are a host of templates and instructions for building these available on the web.

Upgrade the firmware

Most programmes now require firmware upgrades in one capacity or another. This is largely a good thing, with companies keen to ensure their software is improved upon as the months go by. Routers require upgrades just as much as the next device, so it’s important to allow any to go through. The faster the router becomes obsolete, the slower the connections made through it will be.

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