15/09/2020

Slow internet can have a massive impact on your work-from-home productivity.

Even if you don’t normally download massive video files when working, sluggish broadband can result in slower browsing, make email attachments difficult to download, and can even disrupt your Zoom video calls.

If you’re working from home due to COVID-19 and suffer from slow speeds, these tips can help you boost your broadband and become more productive.

  1. Ditch WiFi

Many internet speed issues can be traced back to the quality of your WiFi signal.

If your wireless connection to your router is poor, you could suffer from slow speeds, or intermittent dropouts.

Fortunately, it’s not normally difficult to fix this problem, if working from home on a laptop or personal computer.

To ditch WiFi, you’ll need to get an Ethernet cable to connect your computer to your router. But be sure that your device has an Ethernet port first, or you won’t be able to use a wired connection.

  1. Minimise WiFi interference

For many people, WiFi is the only option. You might be too far away from the router to use an Ethernet cable, or your computer might not have an Ethernet port.

In this case, it’s worth doing everything you can to minimise WiFi interference and ensure that your signal is as strong as possible.

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Move closer to your router, or move your router closer to your workspace, if possible. You want to reduce both the distance between the two devices, and the number of walls your WiFi signal has to pass through.
  2. Minimise usage of other electronics that could potentially interfere with WiFi signal, such as your microwave.
  3. Try changing WiFi frequency. Most modern routers emit two signals – 2.4GHz, and 5.0GHz. The latter is generally faster, while the former offers a stronger signal. Often your device will connect to the one it thinks is best, but it’s normally possible to override this in your networking settings.
  1. Reduce others’ internet usage

You can think of your internet connection a bit like a motorway.

The more cars (or data) travelling at any given time, the more likely you are to face congestion (or slow internet speeds), assuming the number of lanes (your bandwidth) stays the same.

Therefore, to improve internet speed, you want to have the internet mostly to yourself when working from home.

With students gradually beginning to go back to school across the UK, you might see your daytime internet speed pick up a little all by itself.

If your kids are still at home, you will want to limit the amount of non-essential data-intensive activities they’re doing. For example, video streaming on Netflix or YouTube.

However, if the problems are caused by data-intensive remote learning, you may have to consider buying a faster broadband plan.

  1. Check for automatic downloads

This is a similar problem-shooting method to tip #3.

If you’re completely sure that no-one else in your household is using all your bandwidth, it might actually be your computer (or another device that no-one is using).

Here are some good things to check:

  1. Games consoles automatically downloading game updates.
  2. Smart TVs automatically syncing the latest shows.
  3. Computers downloading operating system, antivirus, or other software updates.
  1. Check that you’re getting what you’re paying for

If you’ve tried everything you can to improve your internet speed but you’re still struggling, it’s worth checking that you’re getting what you’re paying for from your internet service provider (ISP).

The first step is to go to speedtest.net. Click the button to measure your current internet speed.

Next, compare this speed to the download speed you currently pay for.

And remember, according to Ofcom, ISPs must provide a minimum guaranteed speed. If you drop below this speed for more than a month, you’re allowed to back out of your contract and switch provider.

More speed improvement methods

For those looking for more information, this article explains 37 different ways to improve internet speed at home.

With thanks to Broadband Savvy.

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