If you’re reading this, you must be having some kind of issue with slow internet speed that’s stopping you from doing something specific, such as streaming video, playing online games or downloading large files.
And you’ve probably already run a speed test to see how fast your internet connection is. (It’s best to do this when no-one else is home so you can find out the speed when you’re the only one using the broadband connection.) If you’re with BT, here’s how to get maximum speed from BT Broadband
When you’re sharing your connection with other people, you can’t all have the full-speed internet as there is only so much bandwidth to go around. But we’re going to show you how to get a big slice, or maybe even all, of the bandwidth from your router for faster internet. At the expense of everyone else, of course!
Method 1. Ask others to stop using the internet
Ok, so before you go for the subterfuge, you could – and should – talk to the people you live with. If you want to call someone on Skype, but find that the video keeps freezing because Tom (yes, you Tom!) is binge-watching the latest season of House of Cards, you might like to arrange a suitable time beforehand so you’re not both using a big chunk of your bandwidth.
Of course this works both ways, so you’ll have to avoid doing those things which require many megabits per second at some point to pay back the favour. Expecting others to stay off the internet every night just so that your ping rate on Call of Duty stays as low as possible isn’t really going to endear you to the others. (Here are some tips on how to reduce Ping latency.)
Method 2. Use Ethernet, not Wi-Fi
One way to improve the speed and reliability of your connection is to plug directly into the router… if you can. Wi-Fi may well give you freedom, but an Ethernet cable gives you stability and avoids the various obstacles, such as walls, which can hamper your Wi-Fi experience.To get technical, Ethernet is full duplex, but Wi-Fi is only half-duplex. In essence Wi-Fi is much slower than Ethernet.
Obviously this helps you not one jot if you’re using a phone or tablet, but if you have a PC or laptop with a network port – not a given these days – look to see if there is a Gigabit port on your router (your manual will tell you which one – and you can Google the router type to if you don’t have the paper version to hand). It’s only worth looking for a Gigabit port if your laptop or PC has a Gigabit network controller of course, but this could be up to 10 times faster than the regular 10/100 Ethernet ports, but you’ll be limited to your broadband speed for any internet-related activities.
Also, note that this tip won’t give you priority over other users, but will eliminate random elements in your house that could cause you to have a reduced or erratic Wi-Fi speed.
Method 3. Use Powerline adapters
Routers aren’t always positioned in convenient places, and really should be in the centre of the house to provide the best coverage for everyone. So if you can’t plug directly into the router itself you could always use powerline adaptors, which use the mains wiring in your home to communicate.
The principle is simple, you buy a couple of powerline devices, plug one into the wall socket nearest the router and the other in the socket nearest your computer, then connect each adapter to the router or PC with an Ethernet cable. Now it’s like you’re plugging directly into the router, even though you might be on the other side of the house.
Method 4. Change ISP
Before you do this, ascertain the various capabilities of your service and equipment. To check whether the speed you’re getting is what your ISP promises, open a browser and go to www.speedtest.com. Here you’ll be able to run a simple test that will show you how fast your net connection is. If your speed is below 5-10Mb then it might be worth seeing if there are any services, such as BT Infinity or Virgin Media, that are offered in your area as there isn’t much that a router can do if the supply it receives is slow.
Here are the best broadband deals, if you are thinking of switching for better speeds.
Method 5. Tweak router settings for quality of service
It’s a sad truth that so many people spend many hundreds of pounds, thousands even, on computers, phones and tablets and then connect to the internet via the basic, free router that was supplied by their ISP. Don’t get us wrong, some are very good, but often these devices are old technology and certainly not top of the line. Getting the optimum performance out of them is essential then, and can be done with a few tweaks.
Ideally you’ll want to have a dual-band router, as these allow you to allocate different devices or applications to different bandwidth. For example, 802.11n can run on 2.4GHz and 5GHz: routers that support both are known as dual-band. You must get one which supports simultaneous dual-band so it can operate on both frequencies at the same time, which most do.
Assuming that your phone, laptop or other Wi-Fi device supports 5GHz (some don’t) you can connect to your router’s 5GHz network for streaming, gaming, and other things that require low latency. Because fewer devices (including those owned by your neighbours) use the 5GHz network, it’s generally less congested and faster.
Some routers, such as the Archer C9 below, let you control bandwidth to specific IP addresses which means you can set a device on which you want lots of Wi-Fi bandwidth to a static (fixed) IP address, and then set the minimum bandwidth to high figures.
Strangely TP-Link uses “Ingress” and “Egress” rather than “In” and “Out” or “Download” and “Upload”. The actual number you can use might be found only using trial and error. This should improve your Wi-Fi performance.
Quality of Service settings
Another important setting to adjust is that of Quality of Service (QoS). If your router has this feature, it will allow you give priority to certain types of applications and / or specific computers. Again the interface will vary depending on your router, with TP-Link calling it Bandwidth Control.
TP-Link has introduced an app for Android and iOS called Tether that allows you to control your settings via an easy interface on your phone or tablet, and Linksys is doing something similar in their new range.
Depending on the router and model, QoS might only deal with outgoing traffic. This is why it’s helpful when playing online games which are time-critical.
Generally, your ISP will control prioritisation of data from the internet to your home, so there’s little you can do to ensure you have no buffering issues when others are also using the internet.
Method 6. Buy a new router
As we mentioned above, it’s very common for most never to even consider replacing our free routers with more advanced models. In a survey conducted by Linksys it was discovered that nearly 50 percent of respondents were using routers that were running versions of Wi-Fi that were at least twelve years old. This becomes an issue when the same survey reported that 84 percent of those interviewed stated that they regularly streamed movies/TV, while also streaming music, playing games, or surfing the internet at the same time.
Replacing your cheap or old router with a newer, more powerful model is an obvious choice, and here are the best routers to buy. Bear in mind though that to get the best out of the latest Wi-Fi standard that new models offer, you’ll need to check that your computers and devices support the same standard, or at least that both will run at a faster speed than on your old router.