How to Speed Up an Internet Connection

by David Lipscomb Google
    Slow Internet speeds slow down your life.

    Slow Internet speeds slow down your life.

    Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Your Internet connection is the business and entertainment lifeblood of your home. A fast Internet connection improves gaming performance, video streaming, productivity and general browsing tasks. Speeding up an Internet feed that is slower than it should be will maximize what you receive from your service provider while staying solidly connected.

    Channel Settings

    Check your router's default settings to ensure they aren't reigning in performance. Enter "192.168.1.1" on most routers to access the settings screen, or consult your router's manual to find its default IP address. Change the broadcast channel to 1, 6 or 11. These are the three primary Wi-Fi channels, with the remaining options used to get around possible interference. Generally, using one of these three channels yields the best reception and range on most residential networks.

    Broadcast Power

    Many routers are equipped with power-saving features that end up saving a few milliwatts while dramatically reducing Wi-Fi performance. Change your router's settings to 70 milliwatts under the "Tx Power Setting" to improve range and connection stability. You may even be able to get that signal out to your patio or yard for outdoor Wi-Fi access. Remember to set your wireless security from WEP to WPA to decrease the chance of unauthorized hijacking of your Wi-Fi feed if you do this. Setting the power above 90mW places unnecessary strain on the router from heat generation.

    Wired Connections

    Even the best wireless "N" routers cannot compete with the speed and security of a wired connection. Wired speed and reliability is far more consistent, with the only sacrifice being flexibility. Wired speeds routinely operate at 100 megabits per second or more. Although wireless "N" promises up to 300 megabits per second, that's usually only experienced while in close proximity to the router. Wired security is better as well, since you are not broadcasting sensitive data to the entire neighborhood.

    Shut Off Processes

    Running excessive numbers of programs and processes will tax your computer's CPU, slowing Internet speeds to a crawl. Only running those processes needed for the task at hand will help maintain a high Internet speed. You may also have a virus running in the background that's crippling your Internet. Running a virus scan eliminates malware, restoring lost system resources. Additionally, streaming or downloading content eats up bandwidth. Perform those tasks when you are not actively using the Web to prevent frustrating pauses and slow connection speeds.

    Speed Test

    As your online speed needs increase, it may simply be that you require more from your Internet service provider. Run one of the many available online speed test programs. Evaluate what is reported against what you are promised in your Internet package. If the speed varies significantly or remains slow with your normal programs running, you should contact your ISP to make those improvements. With higher speeds becoming increasingly cheaper, you may be able to afford a much faster connection than you could the last time you evaluated package options.

    Myths and False Information

    There are plenty of "solutions" available online that purport to improve your Internet speeds. Many of these simply involve disabling multimedia features on your computer or finding processes in the background. In fact, running additional programs that claim to improve your Web browsing experience actually adds another process for your computer to handle. Changing the "quality of service" setting in your computer is an old myth that refuses to die. Some browsers will pre-load pages and require less time to load data, but that only improves things through that browser alone and has no effect on overall networking speeds.

    About the Author

    David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

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