7 Shockingly Easy Ways to Speed up Your Internet Connection.

As you might know, Internet speed varies during certain months, days and even time of days if you use a cable network like your television cable provider.  It’s because we’re all sharing the big, bad Internet connection and when more people are using it (7-9 p.m.) it gets slower. You can’t do anything about that. But you CAN do other things to help speed up Internet access.

Macbook pro sits on vintage pine table with ornate gold mirror on wall.

I first logged onto the Internet when I was a mere child living with my parents. I couldn’t have been more than 30. At that point my computer was about the same size as a fully developed Saint Bernard and about as slow.

The Internet existed but it was still pretty useless. There it was, this huge expanse of potential but no one knew what to do with it. Everything was in text, there weren’t any pictures and it all seemed kind of fly by night. Porn would eventually change all that.

The first thing I remember finding that seemed at all interesting on the Internet was a real estate site from Los Angeles. I was stunned and shocked that I could browse (the text only) listings of homes for sale across the continent from me.

I was hooked.

Many evenings I sat with a cup of hot chocolate staring at the blinking amber text, slowly loading all the housing options in Encino, California.

It went something like this …

 

 

For sa …… (elapsed time 5 minutes)
le. Two bedro ……. (elapsed time 2 minutes)
om bungalow. (elapsed time 10 minutes)
$45 (elapsed time 2 minutes)
,000.

Because of the super-fast Internet speeds of today I can pull up that little tidbit of information in as little as … oh …  10 minutes or so. About half the time. Impressive.

I’m not stupid but sometimes I do stupid things.  Not keeping track of my Internet speed over the past few years is one of those stupid things.

 

I actually did keep track of it judging by the number of holes punched into my office wall, it was just an unusual system is all.  Once I realized my Internet was 7 fist holes slow, I decided it was time to do something about it.

Also, about 2 weeks ago my Internet connection got so bad I couldn’t in fact even connect to the Internet at all.  What followed was a day long extravaganza of swearing, crying, smiling, scowling and eventually … surfing.

Several things were adding up to me having a really slow download speed.  And I’m going to show you how to fix the problem if you have slow downloading too.  But FIRST.

What the hell is download speed?

Download speed is the speed at which your computer can load “stuff” from the Internet.  Like what stuff?

  • websites
  • photos
  • video/audio streaming
  • file downloading

So if it takes a long time for your computer to load any of these things, but the rest of your non-Internet related computer tasks like Photoshopping, Excel, Word etc. work fine, you probably have a poor download speed which is taking precious years off of your life and delaying the instant gratification you could be getting from Men being hit directly in the nuts by their kids’ basketball videos.

Here’s a handy list of all the things I ended up doing that day to make my Internet 3x as fast.

 

How to speed up your home Internet.

Remember your Internet speed varies all day and all year but if you do any or all of these things you’ll get faster speeds.  Why do you want faster speeds? To stop cacheing, slow loading pages or any other Internet misbehaviour that stops you from instant gratification.

 

1. Do a speed test.

If I had been doing speed tests regularly, and really understood them, I wouldn’t have spent 2 out of the past 4 years of my life waiting for Amazon.com to load.

To do a quick test to see how quickly your computer is downloading information from the Internet click here.  The website is called Speedtest.  Just click “Begin Test” when the site loads and it will tell you exactly how fast or slow your computer is downloading and uploading information.

Download speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).  Your download speed might range anywhere from something extraordinarily bad like 2 Mbps or something as astonishingly good as 50 Mbps.

Think of it in terms of driving.  Going from one place to another at 2 Miles per hour isn’t going to get you there nearly as fast as if you were going 50 miles an hour.

 

A good download speed to aim for is 25Mbps.

When I tested my download speed before fixing anything my download speed was 4.77 Mbps.  BAD.  Really, really, bad.

a

 

 

By the end of the same day, after I fixed everything, my download speed was 28.65.  Good.  Very, very good.

b

 

When my download rate was only 4 Mbps I could click on a website, walk away, make a coffee, drink said coffee, draw my own stick figure porn, come back to the computer and STILL only half of the page will have loaded.

Bad.  Especially for someone who makes their living … you know … ON THE INTERNET.

Before you scream fits that you aren’t getting a good download speed after taking the test, pay attention to what day it is and what time it is.  You’ll always get a slower download speed at night (when everyone else who uses your Internet Service Provider is home using the Internet too).  Because of this, test your speed at a couple of different times in the day and week.

 

2. Replace your modem

 

Now that you’ve established you have a really crap download rate it’s time to check on your modem.  An older modem might not be able to handle the faster download speeds of today.  Even a 5 year old modem might not be able to keep up.  If your modem is from your cable company ask if you can exchange it for a newer model.  That’s what I did.

3. Have your lines checked.

 

My Internet is provided by my local cable company so I had them come out and check to see if there were any issues with the cables running into my house.  Indeed there was.  The line running from my house across the street is damaged and needs to be repaired, so the technician  booked an appointment to come back and fix it.  He also took a look around my house and found an old splitter that another technician put on my house over 10 years ago.  It was faulty and out of date and was barely conducting any signal at all.  He replaced the splitter and my download speeds increased immediately.

4. Increase your download speed package.

 

Another thing my handy cable technician mentioned was the Internet package I had with my Internet Service Provider.  I signed up for my Internet package when I first got Internet in this house 15 years ago and that was that.  I never thought about it again and definitely didn’t think about upgrading it or looking at new packages.

You see, most Internet providers offer you a bunch of different Internet packages to choose from.  They offer different maximum download speeds as well as different amounts you’re allowed to download.

I had a package that allowed for 15 Mbps.  I’ve had this package for 15 years.  It’s so useless that it became obsolete recently but my cable provider neglected to tell me this.  Luckily the technician didn’t.

He suggested I get the 30 Mbps package even if it was more money because that’s how I was going to get more speed.  As it turns out, the 30 Mbps package was $1 CHEAPER than my slower, 15 Mbps package for some reason.  I signed up immediately.

My Internet download speed shot up again.

 

5. Move your router.

Think of your router as a cat.  It wants to be RIGHT in the middle of the action all tangled around your feet. It should be somewhere around the middle of your house if you’re wanting it to get full range around your home. 

If it’s stuck in a corner of the basement it’s going to have more house interference and obstacles to get past to make it up to your bedroom as you scroll your iPad for the meaning of your latest dream.

6. Buy a new router.

THE SINGLE UNIT ROUTER

If you live in a smallish house or apartment you can use a regular router (single unit router). These routers get plugged directly into your modem and they service the entire house.

 

Karen Bertelsen holds up a Netgear router in her foyer.

 

This is a big one.  It may be that your Internet speed is fine and the thing that’s slowing everything down is your cruddy router. Try plugging your computer right into your modem instead of using your router and do the speed test again.  If it’s remarkably faster then your router is the problem.

My router was a problem.  So I started researching routers and 2 makes kept coming up. Netgear’s Nighthawk and TP-Link.

I ordered this Netgear Nighthawk 1750 from Amazon  in 2015 and I’m still using it. I’ll be upgrading it to the router that’s picked by many as the best router for 2020, the Netgear Nighthawk X10 which has a coverage that’s almost twice as big and almost double the processor size as the one I have.

Upgrading your router is the one of the most effective ways of speeding up your home Internet especially if you have multiple devices being used at the same time. For instance if you’re using your laptop or ipad at the same time you’re watching Netflix.  Investing in a high end router is especially GREAT for families with multiple download uses going on at the same time, like video streaming, gaming and browsing among several different people.


MESH ROUTER

If you live in a bigger house with several levels you might want to think about getting a Mesh Router. A mesh router plugs into your modem PLUS it has several wireless satellite units you can place in different rooms.  You get much better coverage this way and no dead spots.

If I bail on the single unit router I’ll get this Netgear Orbi mesh router. Partly because it’s Netgear and that brand has worked well for me. And partly because, I mean why lie, right … partly because I like how it looks.

 

A good router makes a big difference.  Upgrade your router at least once every 3 or 4 years. (I’ve waited five, but I’m especially cheap and resistant to change)


UPDATE:  I recently bought ( June 17th, 2021) this GOOGLE Wifi Mesh.  I got the 3 pack like I’ve linked to because my house is small BUT it has a lot of interior walls that are solid brick. That makes router signals and such a bit of a nightmare.  My download speed from my very old Netgear router was 2.2 mbps.  Once I set up the Google mesh (and configured it until it said my connection was “great”) my speed increased immediately to 61 mbps.

I can use my laptop in the living room, which I couldn’t do for years (because of the brick walls in my house) as well as my front porch.  I can now highly recommend getting a Mesh router to improve your Internet speeds. 


7. Password protect your router.

 

This one is something most people don’t think about but you should because everyone is a cheater and a liar when it comes to the Internet.  Probably even you.  If you don’t protect your router with a password ANYONE in the area of the router signal can use it.  So while you’re comfortable in your family room wondering why Netflix keeps pausing … your neighbour is comfortable in their family room illegally downloading the entire Beatles library through your Internet.

Bonus tip for speeding up your Internet

Call customer service!

Once I realized I’d been experiencing really, really bad Internet service partly because of poor lines, connectors and modem I called my Internet Service Provider and complained.  I explained that I’d been a great customer for years and I was incredibly disappointed that I was paying for what was supposed to be great service but in fact was getting terrible service.

They offered me $25 off of my monthly cable bill for a year.  That’ll save me $300 this year.

That’s money I can now put towards the downpayment on a nice little bungalow in Encino.

IMPORTANT LINKS FROM THIS POST

Download speed:  Speedtest

For small homes:  Netgear Nighthawk X10 single unit router

For larger homes or those with dead spots: Google WIFI Mesh

 

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7 Shockingly Easy Ways to Speed up Your Internet Connection.

104 Comments

  1. Nancy says:

    Wow, that dial up sound is SO nostalgic!! Used to be so exciting, we were the first family I knew to get dial up internet in our home. I didn’t know my ex husband was a porn addict, who knew porn could put you on the cutting edge of technology.

    Anyway, recently, my new husband and I had increasingly bad problems, plus it’s a plaster and lathe house and some rooms didn’t work at all. Not being able to lay up in bed all morning and surf the Internet was so sad.
    We changed from Comcast to century net DSL. Much better and works all over the house. I just checked my late 2009 MacBook and got 47.43 mpg.
    He has our service set up so it’s invisible, it can’t be seen from the street and we have to give out the router name And the password to visitors. I have no idea how to do this.

    During my family gatherings, at least once an episode, we speed test our phones. I have to say iPhone on ATT usually wins. My brother pretends not to care.

  2. Maryanne says:

    Again – thank you, thank you, thank you. Great post!

  3. Deva says:

    I’ve been fussing with slow speed and want to thank you this morning for making me realize it’s time to figure out what my problems are with my computer. I’ll get working on it. I’ve been following your blog for a long time and thank you for giving me many interesting things to read about and to try. You talk me into doing things I never would have tried before. I do pretty good for an old lady!

  4. kkish says:

    Very well explained and very helpful. Thanks!!

  5. Mary W says:

    AT and T is trying hard to NOT provide fast service to those in the country even thought they are fully capable now. They are trying to get everyone to bundle since it costs more to service (milage) those people in the country when things go wrong. A service man told me that most of my area was already to go with high speed but ATT won’t flip the switch. Hasn’t for over 6 years now. I have very low opinions of them. 7 fist holes worth of low opinions!

  6. BB says:

    Another thing I recently discovered is don’t stick your wireless router in a spot where signals can be muddied or absorbed or whatever before they get to your computer. I had mine in between two giant bookshelves and the signal could barely extend into the next room!

    • Karen says:

      That’s true! Although I have to say with my new router I have it in a terrible spot, lol, and it still works great. It’s in my mudroom, under a cabinet, which basically isn’t even part of the house and it still works great. My old router never would have stood for that kind of treatment though. ~ karen!

  7. Kim says:

    Good advice about having a good password for protection from bandwidth moochers. And you can make your network hidden as well so its name doesn’t show up in the neighbourhood – or make someone think twice before trying to hack into your network as a relative did by naming his network and guest network “Virus Infected Network ” and “FBI Surveillance Van.”

  8. Jody says:

    Great tips. I think we will need to upgrade our router just so I can watch Netflix, my husband can play can play his streaming war games, and our son can watch Big Bang Theory over and over.

  9. Ann says:

    Too bad I have done all these things, or at least my husband has, and we are optimized out at STS speed(slower than s**t speed). We are so rural and until about a year ago we had to have an air card and the very limited data that came with that. But it was relatively fast.

    For the first 5 years we lived in our current house, we fought with AT&T to bring DSL one more house to us. Our neighbors on both sides had it, one coming on a line from the east and the other from the line coming in from the west. But they would not extend it to us. We called them weekly and bugged them til finally they were willing to give us service. Cause they had finally brought fiber optic cable service to within a half a mile of us and they had lost a lot of customers, I am guessing. So they ran a brand new line and got us going. But it is so slow, even with a brand new modem and everything optimized. But we can watch Netflix, although sometimes the video part is a bit choppy. And we get as much data as we can use, which we did not have with the faster air card. I don’t make my living on the internet, but man, without it I am a lost soul. AT&T’s uVerse is famous for being out. A few weeks ago it was out almost nationwide for almost 24 hrs. When fixed, they never even acknowledged the outage or admitted the reason. And you really don’t ever want to actually have to talk to the company service reps, I promise you that.

  10. Paul says:

    Hi Karen, Great job on the article!

    You picked a great router for a one or two person home. If you are trying to run a business off one or have many chicks around the house sucking up your bandwidth this the other model to get: NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router (R8000)

  11. Eileen says:

    ping is 242 ms; download is 2.45 mbps and upload is .60 mbps. I live in rural Virginia and obviously in the boonies. Horrible!

    • Carole says:

      I know how you feel. It takes an entire day just to complete a 3 gigabyte download. I have Verizon but it seems that they don’t care about us rural folks.

  12. Alita says:

    You think you have problems? I have the massive download speed of 1.1 Mb. I am out in the sticks in Scotland and, despite having done everything humanly possible, that is all I will get.

    British Telecoms own all the lines, so even switching to a new company won’t help, because the other companies just lease BT’s lines. Basically if you live in London, you can get a really fast connection, out here you don’t!

  13. Julia (mumo3kids) says:

    Upload : 7.77
    Download : 1.90
    And that is after doing everything you have suggested more than once…
    Still I guess it’s because the equipment was installed in Tudor times.
    We have a neighbourhood campaign to get the service provider to install new cables and other essentials (at a cost to us of £100 000) – it’s a slow process :((

    • Karen says:

      HI Julia. Does your service provider even have the option of faster speeds? Or are you on the fastest service they offer? (I’m assuming you are) ~ karen!

      • Julia (mumo3kids) says:

        Oh yes, we are on the fastest service, but live over 1.5 miles from the nearest ‘cabinet’ (the point between the exchange and the home)… Having paid the money for the new equipment, we are waiting for installation in March 2016!

      • Julia (mumo3kids) says:

        And we are only 40 miles from London!

  14. Jo says:

    I am definitely going to check my download speed, and yes i probably will make a chart of some kind.

    But I have a slightly off-the-topic question. I nearly bought an Apple TV the other day. It was on sale and right in front of me and the store didn’t have what I had gone there to get so … I’ve purchased other objects before in precisely this manner . What stopped me was when a little voice in my head said “You have no idea what to do with that thing.” And it’s true. I think I want an Apple TV — but what do I do with it and how much other stuff do Ineed to have (or get) in order to do it?
    You’re good at explaining thing. What do you do with your Apple TV?
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jo! Apple TV basically gathers up all the things you might use your computer for and allows it on your television. You don’t need anything other than Apple TV for Apple TV to work (except maybe an optical cable). When you turn on Apple TV it will have a bunch of different boxes on it for you to choose from. So you can click on the YouTube box to watch YouTube videos on your television. Click on the Netflix and watch Netflix. Click on the list of new movies out and watch movies from iTunes, or television shows. Any iTunes stuff you download with AppleTV is charged to your iTunes account. If you have an iPad or iPhone or Mac computer you can also stream anything from your computer to your television with the AppleTV. So any of the music of photos on your computer. Any downloaded tv show or movies. That sort of thing. That’s Apple TV in a nutshell. I had NO idea what it was either when I got it by the way. :) ~ karen!

  15. gloria says:

    Uh-oh. Mine is 1.44. No wonder I’m going bald.

  16. Pat E says:

    Paula, perhaps satellite might work better for you. Don’t know what’s available but Hughes is in most rural areas. Or, you could bake cakes between downloads, lol. That’s what I did when I moved and only had dsl available.

  17. Paula says:

    Alas, nothing worked; we just moved here this year and everything is new because there wasn’t Internet here before. Cable is not available as we are in a small village on the edge of nowhere. My speed at 12:45am, when (I am assuming) not too many other people are on the net and my speed is 5.08 :(

    • Mary W says:

      In Florida (big producer of pine trees and beef) there are so many dead zones and many, many people use Hughes Net for faster service. I’ve heard great things about their service.

  18. Nancy Wilder says:

    ok, I thought mine was fast. Turns out not so much. 9.65 mbps download speed? I guess I’ll be checking later, and now obsessing about it!

  19. Paula says:

    Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!!

  20. Chavella says:

    I named my lovely internet access, Neighborhood FBI Internet Hacking Surveillance. Let the cheap bastards just try and mooch. :)

  21. melody says:

    I haven’t even finished the first sentence of your post and I’m already laughing-alone-in my living room. Have you ever done stand up comedy?

    melody

    • Karen says:

      In front of people? Where they’re paying you to make them laugh? NO thank you. It’s hard enough to do it for free when people can walk away from their computer any time they want. ~ karen!

  22. Judy D. says:

    I tested mine today (Tuesday) at 9:21 p.m. It read as follows: PING 13 ms; Download Speed 212.21 Mbps; Upload Speed 22.72 Mbps. I don’t know what PING stands for, but mine was significantly lower than yours. Do you know what that means?

    • Karen says:

      Your download speed is 212.21 Mbps??!!! Are you on a work computer and do you work at Nasa, lol??!! ~ karen!

      • Judy D. says:

        ….This is my home computer. I use a local cable company here in So. California USA. Do you know what the PING speed means? ~ Judy D.

      • Karen says:

        I have a “general” idea of what it is Judy, lol. It’s basically getting or testing that there’s a connection basically. Either between computer and server or computer and computer. I think. Basically. It’s a quick test of connectivity and speed. In this case I assume the ping is connecting your computer to your local Internet Service Provider or server or something like that. ~ karen!

      • Judy D. says:

        …Karen, you’re not only witty :-), but you are SMART. After I wrote my last message, I Googled PING and what you said is the same info I received from Google. Thank you.

        PS – Forget about getting a bungalow in Encino. :-) So many people I know are leaving So. California because it’s so expensive to live here. I’m checking out other states myself.

      • Rondina says:

        According to the last US census, they are all moving to Texas from California. (Really, that’s what they reported.) Fort Worth was a nice little, urban place that reminded me of the Jackson, Mississippi of my childhood. Now, it has been “discovered.” Bah, humbug.

      • Janet says:

        I’m in D-FW and that is true. Y’all stop driving up our real estate prices! I’m still a renter!

      • Janet says:

        I meant that in a cheeky-angry way, not an angry-angry way, btw.

      • Karen says:

        LOL! I figured. The actual angry comments are pretty easy to pick up on Janet. :) ~ karen!

      • Rondina says:

        Vote for the increase of the homestead exemption ($10,000) on Election Day. That way your rent doesn’t go up as much (cause it’s coming out of your pocket) and your taxes will be less when you buy. Prices are rising so fast that the bungalow I bought five years ago—one-third the size of the home I sold in Carroll ISD with a lot less land—will sell for more. Age 65 can’t get here fast enough. I think the problem is that when we had the crash the home builders went under and everything ground to a halt. With the increase in the state’s population, there are just not enough homes. It’s nice to exchange with another D/FWer.

      • Janet says:

        Rondina – I’m a single lady on a teacher salary and don’t want to live in the suburbs, so buying limits me to transitional neighborhoods in Dallas. I’m not afraid of that, but it’s soooo hard to find just the right place. I am nervous my rent is going to skyrocket because lots of old cool 4-plexes around me are being torn down and 600K town homes being built in their place. :/

      • SusanR says:

        A ping is a round trip signal from a computer to another computer. One computer sends the ping, the other computer receives the ping and replies. The amount of time it takes the signal to round trip is the speed of the ping. It’s used to determine whether there is an issue somewhere along the line between the computer sending the ping and the computer being pinged. The higher the ping speed, the more chance there there is some delay somewhere along the line between the two devices. When a ping is sent via command line, the final report usually shows the hops and how long between arriving at the hop and leaving it. The hops are usually routers that are part of the backbone of the internet. A long time spent at a particular hop usually means that router is failing or has some other issue. A very high number of hops can mean and even larger issue somewhere in the backbone, because it’s usually caused by the signal being re-routed around some issue. Those kinds of issues can effect upload and download speeds because they cause delays. A ping can also be used to determine if an internet-connected device is reachable. For instance, if you can ping a network printer, but the printer isn’t printing jobs sent to it, that indicates the printer is physically installed properly, but probably not configured properly in the installation of the driver for it.

      • Karen says:

        That is one fantastic answer! ~ karen

      • SusanR says:

        Thanks. Would have been better without the typos and if I’d spelled affect correctly. :)

      • Angela says:

        Ha! I do work at NASA in VA and my download speed was 193.00 mbps and my upload was 203.56 mbps with a ping of 9 ms when I checked it a few minutes ago. Can’t wait to get home and check it there!

      • Karen says:

        OMG that’s HILARIOUS, LOL! And it’s really weird that your upload speed is faster than your download speed. Nasa must want you to get a lot of information out in the world for some reason. ~ karen!

  23. Lynn says:

    I have to agree with everything you said , how strange is that… An you are right it is a great Router you picked up . We had one before we had to change service provider an we loved it .

  24. Milton says:

    Wonderful advice Karen. I’ve been messing with computers over 40 years and can’t think of anything better. Now take just an excellent and comprehensive look at computer backup and you’ll be on your way to computer guru extraordinaire.

    • Karen says:

      Ha! I just plug my Time Machine in once a week and call it a day. But you’re absolutely right most people don’t backup and regret it when they turn their computer one morning only to find out there no longer is an “on”. ~ karen!

      • Justin says:

        Do you have any tips for rural century link users. My internet is centurylink and at 36 kb per second and it hasn’t really ever been better than that.

      • Jo says:

        errrr, what’s a Time Machine? Sounds…interesting?
        I mean, I don’t want to use the cloud, and the external hard drive I Do have I’ve been leery of after, I Think? being told (by It) that I can only back up One computer? I may not have that right. Or something. Yea, I’m confused and so…Not ‘acting’ (as I probably Should). I have an ‘old’ computer (about 3 years since I’ve used but has loads of pictures and so on I’d like to retrieve) whose files I’d like to preserve and not have written over…somehow. My current computer has Way more storage.
        SO – I’m wondering really if this Time Machine might be able to…help?

      • Karen says:

        Hi Jo. A Time Machine is basically an external harddrive for a Mac. You do need one per computer because it’s basically backing up the entire computer including programs etc. ~ karen!

  25. Lesley says:

    37.41 Mbps at midnight. You realize, of course, that I’m going to have to make a spreadsheet now and track this all week.

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