It’s hard to imagine a world without the Internet. I don’t know about you, but I’m on the web every single day. I check my social accounts. I read emails. I chat with friends. I read the news, and I’ve been known to get stuck watching a cute cat video or two.
Because the Internet is such an integral part of our lives – and we’re a generation that craves instant gratification – a slow connection can be really frustrating.
When I moved into my new apartment, I had problems with my Internet connection. It was unbearably slow. But after trial and error, I’ve found ways to boost my speed without having to pay more for an “upgraded” Internet package.
1. Know Your Data Cap
Most Internet providers (ISPs) now have data caps on their Internet plans, and if you go over this limit, you can expect your connection to slow to a crawl.
Many ISPs don’t advertise their data caps (for obvious reasons), so you may have to call to find out or read through your bill carefully.
Essentially, a data cap puts a limit on how much data you can consume each month. Caps vary from one provider to the next. It could be a few hundred megabytes or hundreds of gigabytes. If you surpass your plan’s limit, your speeds will be seriously restricted, and you’ll know it.
I had this happen to me when I was testing Google Stadia. Let’s just say that I spent an entire weekend binge playing, and I eventually went over my data cap. The only way to bring my Internet back up to normal speed was to upgrade to the “unlimited” package for an extra $30 per month.
This is why it pays to know your data cap and to keep an eye on it. If this is the reason why your Internet is slow, then maybe you should consider how often you use data and how to cut back on your usage. If you can’t find ways to cut back, you may need to bite the bullet and pay for the unlimited plan (if there is one).
2. Turn Off Unused Internet-Connected Devices
If you’re like me, you probably own a lot of devices. And I’d be willing to bet that most of those devices connect to the Internet. If you have a tablet, smartphone, laptop and desktop PC all connected to the web and all at the same time, it can really slow down your speed.
Unused devices can still steal marginal amounts of bandwidth, and if you have a lot of these devices all connected at the same time, it can really add up.
Eventually, you start running out of bandwidth.
You may think that these devices are just sitting idle, but they probably aren’t. Many devices are set to automatically download and install updates, which will eat up more data and bandwidth.
I read about this tip online and didn’t think it would make much of a difference. But when I actually shut down my tablet and my two Chromebooks, I found that my Internet was actually a lot faster. In fact, this one simple trick increased my speed by 4 Mbps. That’s pretty impressive for such a simple trick.
3. Reposition Your Router
Sometimes, your router’s position is the problem. You see, wireless routers send out radio signals in all directions. These signals have a very high frequency, but they also have a very short range.
This is why you can have dead zones even when a router is in the next room.
And just like any other signal, your router’s signal can be slowed down or interrupted by objects in its path. If you have thick walls or floors and other objects in between your router and devices, it can slow down your speeds considerably.
If you think this may be the problem, I would try moving my router around the room or even in different rooms to see which position give the strongest signal.
My router used to sit in the corner of my office – on the floor and behind my desk. When I moved to a more open position towards the doorway, I was able to boost my speed by about 3 Mbps.
If you can’t move your router, you may be able to move the objects that are interfering with the signal’s path.
4. Use an Ethernet Cable Instead
Wi-Fi is great, and it’s definitely convenient. But it’s also unpredictable and easily slowed down by interference and other devices.
A wired connection through an ethernet cable will always be faster and more reliable than a Wi-Fi connection. I know this from experience. I was having latency issues with an MMORPG that I was playing. Lag was keeping me from playing in groups because I was so far behind. I switched from a Wi-Fi to an ethernet connection, and my lag was gone.
You don’t necessarily have to connect every device this way. That would be impossible and impractical. But if you have desktops and/or laptops that are near your router, you can plug them directly into the router for the fastest possible connection.
5. Invest in a Good WiFi Booster
The one thing that gave me the biggest speed increase was a Wifi booster. I can’t recommend them enough. They’re easy to install, and the speed boost is significant.
Wifi boosters connect using a regular coaxial cable, and they extend your wireless network to areas where the signal is weak. There are also wireless boosters available, but I’d recommend going with a wired one because you’ll get the greatest speed boost and don’t have to worry about interference.
What these devices do is basically repeat or re-broadcast your Wifi signal so that it reaches the areas of your home where the signal is low or weak (also known as “dead zones”). I’ve reviewed quite a few boosters, such as the SuperBoost WiFi and Victony Repeater . I’d recommend starting here to start researching and comparing your options.