How to boost your broadband speed

If you're paying for broadband and struggling to stream or download as quickly as expected, these tips might help to boost your signal.

Key points

  • Speeding up your broadband can be as easy as moving your router
  • Always make sure that your wireless network is secured, so your neighbours aren't able to poach your internet
  • Consider switching to another provider that can offer a speedier connection

When it comes to slow broadband lots of people might first go directly to their provider in an attempt to solve the problem.

But several other things can affect the speed - house size, the number of devices using the network and security, to name but a few.

Check your broadband speed by doing a broadband speed test and compare what you find to the speed you're paying for - there will likely be a small discrepancy between the two, but if your broadband is significantly slower than it should be you may need to investigate further.

Broadband speed - whether you're accessing the internet via fibre optic broadband, mobile or standard ADSL - will directly impact on your online experience, so try our tips to speed up your service.

Image of a woman looking at a tablet

Move your wireless router

If you're suffering from slow or unreliable wi-fi, try moving your router.

Ideally it should be high up - on top of a bookshelf or wardrobe and doors, walls and interference from other devices can affect signal strength.

If you're a student or live in rented housing you may have fire doors - if these are closed they can block a wi-fi signal completely, so keep your router in a section of the house unaffected by fire doors.

As a general rule, the closer you are to the router, the better your web connection will be.

Think about electronic devices located close to the router though, as cordless phones and even microwaves can interfere with its signal.

If you live in a large house and the wi-fi signal fails to reach some rooms, you could also consider investing in a wireless repeater or booster - these improve your wireless range, sending the signal over a larger area.

Change your web browser

Try updating to the latest version of your browser or switching to a different one entirely.

Also try clearing your cache, as this stores information from internet sites you've previously visited, which can slow down your broadband speed.

If your wireless network is open it means sneaky neighbours or others can steal your connection

Secure your network

Lots of things can affect your wireless broadband signal, but an unsecured network presents a security risk as well as slowing you down.

If your wireless network is open it means sneaky neighbours or others can steal your connection and use your download limit, using up your monthly data allowance.

Use less bandwidth

Make sure there aren't any applications running on your computer. Updates, security scans, media player pop-ups, video calling applications and music streaming can all be set to start automatically without you realising.

This could also drain your monthly data usage, so make sure you shut applications and programs down correctly.

Improve your router

Broadband bundles

If you've been with your current broadband provider for a number of years your router may be a bit old or outdated. Give your provider a ring and see if you're due a hardware update free of charge before shelling out yourself.

Use WPA2 security only

Wireless broadband security is regularly being improved. WEP encryption used to be the standard wireless security, but this and the more modern WPA standard can limit the speed of your network.

WPA2 has replaced WPA in new wi-fi enabled devices, but this type of security is not backward compatible with all types of broadband hardware, so check which type of encryption you should use before setting up your network security - just give your provider a ring to find this out.

Stop using wireless

This isn't strictly improving your signal, but going back to wired broadband will immediately improve your connection. If your broadband package is on the slower end of the scale to begin with, this could be a good temporary solution until you can improve your signal.

Use an ethernet cable (when was the last time you saw one of those?) and if your speed doesn't improve, you might want to…

Talk to your provider

If you've done all of the above and still haven't seen an improvement in your speed, it's time to talk to your provider.

It may be that your plan is out of date and you're due an upgrade, or that there's a fault with your connection.

If your provider isn't able to fix your wireless speed or offer you a better deal, it might be time to consider…

Switching broadband providers

Shop around for broadband deals and all you'll have to do is provide your postcode  to see the deals available in your area.

But remember, the right deal isn't necessarily the cheapest - choose the most appropriate package based on your internet usage and needs.

By Emily Bater