Ultimately, there isn’t one thing that affects your internet speed but a combination of many factors, which leave a lot of opportunities to help speed up your internet.
What is the average speed of home internet in the UK?
Firstly, you may want to establish what your internet speed is, to determine what sort of improvements you can expect. According to OFCOM, the UK regulator of communications, the average download speed in the UK is 71.8Mbps, while the average upload speed is 14.2Mbps, as of May 2020.
You can check your speeds on internet speed test on Google.
Check your broadband contract
Naturally, the internet provider and package you select will impact the speeds you receive. The cheapest packages on the market will start at 10Mb, whereas the fastest (and most expensive) packages can be as quick as 500 Mb. You’ll need to make this decision, based on your needs and budget.
If you find the speed provided by your internet service provider is too slow, you may want to consider upgrading or switching - but not before trying out these tips and tricks:
Help your router out
- Get a booster
The router provided by your broadband service should be sufficient for the internet speed they offer. However, 3rd party routers can help to boost speeds, especially if you have many different devices connected.
- Change your password
Even if you are happy with the router provided from your supplier, one important tip is to remember to change the username and password from the defaults. The following tips are all useless if your cheapskate neighbours are using your Wi-Fi to stream movies all day!
- Reset your router
No one likes to work 24/7, so consider giving you router a very short break occasionally. By resetting your router periodically (every few weeks), you will give it a break that will force it to refresh your internet connection with your service provider. One extra tip is using a ‘smart’ plug that’ll remember to do this for you, because it can be an easy one to forget.
- Disconnect unnecessary devices
- Optimise your routers spot
Another way to increase speeds, is by making sure your router is in the best location. The antennas on most consumer routers aren’t always the most powerful and can struggle to penetrate through thick walls. Experiment with moving it around different spots in the room, to see if this improves the signal.
Alternatively, if your router is fixed to a spot wired into an external line, you can buy antennas which should boost your range.
- Consider a wired connection
Finally, the best way to help your router out and increase your internet speeds is going back to a wired connection. Whilst this can seem outdated, a wired connection using an ethernet cable will always be quicker. If your home office computer is stationary, this might be a valid option to consider.
Help your computer out
- Close your tabs and applications
If your internet connection is still slow after determining you have a decent speed supplied by your ISP and your router, it may be you’re having bandwidth issues. Bandwidth is essentially the maximum amount of data transmitted over an internet connection at any time. If you have a number of applications running in the background, and multiple windows and tabs open, you might be stretching a lot of this capacity without realising it.
- Check for viruses
It’s also worth checking if you have any unwanted viruses on your computer that may be also taking up bandwidth. To do this it’s best to install an antivirus tool to scan your computer fully. Viruses can be recording and sending data away from your computer without being visible at all to a normal user - while compromising your personal security, they can also slow down your computer in the process.
- Clear your cache
While checking for unwanted viruses it’d also be a good idea to check and possibly clear your cache. Your cache essentially records everything you do online (scary right?). For instance, information such as the location of the sites you visited, files used to run online applications, as well as downloads. By clearing your cache, you prevent your browser from using outdated forms, protecting your personal information and helping your applications run better on your computer including your internet speeds. Granted, you may have to log back into a few sites and remember some passwords, but the privacy and speed benefits are worth it.
- Update your browser
It’s a good idea to always have the latest version of the operating system you are using. This is because each update usually increases security and efficiency.
- Check your gear
Finally, what computer are you using, and how old is it? Older computers and laptops will have slower processors which could be creating a glass ceiling for your internet connection. If you have a speedy internet package, an up-to-date router and you’ve given your computer a spring clean, to no avail, it may be time to update your gear.
There isn’t a concrete answer for how long a computer should last as it’ll depend on usage levels amongst a plethora of other factors. However, a general rule of thumb is a lifespan of a desktop is between 5-8 years and a laptop 3-5 years.
There are a number of things you can do to facilitate a good signal either with your router or the hardware you are using to access the internet. If it's not just simply the matter of a weak signal, but your internet has gone down, check out our guide on what to do to resolve this.
Switch your broadband supplier
The best way to find out if you are on a fair broadband deal, is to run a comparison to see what is out on the market. Use Switchcraft to see how much you could be saving on your next broadband bills.