The best broadband internet services can provide access to a world of entertainment, information and communication tools that can enrich and improve your daily life. However, plenty of people complain of sluggish network performance even after getting a broadband package that looks fast on paper.
So what are the things which impact internet speed and what steps can you take to improve your experience if you are suffering from slow down at the moment?
When it comes to the type of internet connection you have, it is not just the difference between services supplied over fiber optic or copper landlines that alter the speed, but also the method by which you hook up to your router.
The most consistent and reliable connection will be provided directly via Ethernet, so if your home setup allows for this and your device has a network port, plug in a cable and enjoy. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is impacted not just by obstacles like furniture and walls, but also interference from other wireless networks and devices. For this reason, you may find that your Wi-Fi speeds are slower, less stable or both.
Moving closer to your router or using a range extender to repeat the signal to parts of the building where it is weaker can help your internet speed woes as a Wi-Fi user.
The more people online at any one time, the greater the load that will be placed on the network infrastructure and the slower average speeds will become, no matter the nature of your broadband service.
While you cannot control this in the context of your local area, save from avoiding going online during peak periods if you have some especially bandwidth-intensive tasks to complete, you might be able to address this in your own home. In short, the more people trying to share the same internet connection at the same time, the slower the experience will feel.
This is something to manage on a household-by-household basis, but if you find that your connection is crawling when several family members or roommates are trying to stream HD content to different devices at the same time, getting a faster connection with more available bandwidth for all of your desired internet activities may be sensible. Even then, gamers may have to put up with latency issues when everyone is online at once, but this is a different challenge altogether.
Even if you are the only person using an internet connection and you have solid Wi-Fi coverage or use Ethernet, you might still experience a host of speed issues. Software can often be to blame in this scenario, with both legitimate programs and malicious code potentially being responsible if your broadband feels like treacle.
There are a number of ways to optimize your internet speed from a software perspective, such as stopping downloads and updates running the background while you are trying to get on with other things on your PC, laptop or smart device. You can reschedule these important processes to occur when you are not using the connection, if you wish, or simply wait for any major downloads to complete so that your bandwidth is not being monopolised at an inopportune moment.
Installing antivirus solutions from reputable vendors can help you to prevent any unwanted software from getting onto your system, although it is also worth noting that some suites of this kind can be resource hogs in their own right.
If all else fails, contact your ISP and see whether upgrading your router or your computer will remedy any unresolved internet speed issues.