The number of people working from home has skyrocketed over the past few months due to coronavirus-induced social distancing. More than anything else, the availability of fast internet speeds has made this possible. What happens when your internet isn’t fast enough to do what you need, though? In this article, we’ll cover some tips on how to increase your bandwidth. There are four major categories to consider: your internet service provider (ISP), the device you’re using, your security settings and your router.
Your Internet Service Provider
The very first thing you should check is your current internet speed with an online test like this one. Compare the results to the package you have with your ISP. If the numbers are close, that means you’re getting what you paid for, and everything appears to be working correctly. The only way to increase your bandwidth is to purchase a higher-speed package.
Sometimes ISPs “throttle” your bandwidth down during certain parts of the day. If internet traffic is high where you live during certain hours, ISPs have been known to limit the amount available to each customer. The best way to work around this is to get on a virtual private network (VPN). This masks your location so your bandwidth won’t be throttled.
Your desktop, laptop, tablet or cell phone might be the issue. Begin by ensuring that the devices you’re using are updated to the most recent version and have all of the current patches installed. Being behind on tech updates often introduces noticeable lag.
There are various ways to optimize your computer. Clear the cache and history on your internet browser; if these are too full, they can cause delays. Not all browsers are the same — some run lighter (and therefore faster) than others, while some are powerful but eat up a lot of resources, slowing everything down. If you’re using a higher-resource browser, try a stripped one with fewer plugins and see what effect it has.
Shut down any background apps that you aren’t using. These can not only slow down your device’s processing speeds, but each app that’s even using a tiny piece of your bandwidth adds up. You’ll also want to defragment your hard drive to optimize your PC’s resources.
Your Security Settings
Run a scan to ensure that you’re virus- and malware-free. These programs can run in the background and eat up your processing speed, so even though the internet getting to your computer is full-speed, your PC can’t utilize it.
Double-check that your router is secured with a password. You might have internet leeches who are piggybacking on your Wi-Fi without you knowing it. An easy way to confirm this is to use your router’s web interface: it will show you which devices are on your network. While you’re here, consider the number of legitimate devices you’re using. Each one of these eats up some of your bandwidth, and one of the most common problems people see is that they’re simply using too many devices for the speed they’re paying for, particularly if you have a family that’s using phones, tablets and computers, as well as streaming video on your TV.
Since the router is what’s primarily responsible for acting as a hub between your home and the internet, the majority of bandwidth optimization you’ll see can be performed here. Reboot your router every one to two months: this can help reset everything to its optimal performance settings as well as trigger any necessary patch updates. Many routers allow you to set an automatic reboot schedule for times you aren’t using your internet. If you have an older router (more than two years old), it’s time to consider purchasing a new one. Routers are like any other piece of equipment: they eventually wear out over time.
Some routers don’t have antennas, but if yours does, angle one up and one to the side. Wi-Fi signals spread out perpendicular to your router, so broadcasting at different angles maximizes your potential signal strength. You could also potentially upgrade your antennas to high-performance ones, depending on the model.
Real estate and Wi-Fi routers have one thing in common: what’s most important is location. Your router should be in an elevated, clear spot in a central part of your home. Good options include the upper story of the house (never the basement) or on a coffee table in the middle of your living room. Avoid the kitchen, where signals from other devices can interfere, or in corners, where much of your Wi-Fi signal will be blocked.
Finally, remember that wired connections are always faster than wireless, so if you can, hook into an ethernet cable and plug your computer directly into your router whenever you can.
Moiz Bhinderwala leads the technical services and logistics teams at Dynamic. With more than 10 years of experience in the IT industry, Moiz has deep knowledge of the complex technological landscape, working closely with clients to understand their IT challenges and help design custom technical solutions to meet their business goals.