Editors Note: Sometimes speeding up your Internet is a matter of thinking out-of-the-box. Below we have revised and updated our 10 most popular ideas to accomplish this feat.
1) Make sure you are not accidentally connected to a weak access point signal
There are several ways an access point can slow down your connection a bit. If the signal between you and the access point is weak, the access point will automatically downgrade its service to a slower speed. This happens to me all the time. My access point goes on the blink (needs to be re-booted) and my computer connects to the neighbor’s with a weaker signal. The speed of my connection on the weaker signaled AP is quite variable. So, if you are on wireless in a densely populated area, check to make sure what signal you are connected to.
Note: Most modern Wifi Controllers will actually push your Laptop toward the best signal available. However many legacy wireless networks deploy older technology, especially in Hotels
2) Time of day does make a difference
During peak internet Usage times, 5 PM to Midnight local time, your upstream provider is also most likely congested. If you have a bandwidth intensive task to do, such as downloading an update for your iPAD, you can likely get a much faster download by doing your download earlier in the day. I have even noticed that the more obscure YouTube’s and videos, have problems running at peak traffic times. My upstream provider does a good job with Netflix and popular videos during peak hours ( these can be found in their cache), but if I get something that is not likely stored in a local copy on their servers the video will lag during peak times. ( see our article on caching)
3) Requesting “text-only” from your browser
If you are stuck with a dial-up or slower broadband connection, your browser likely has an option to load text-only. If you are a power user that’s gaming or watching YouTube, text-only will obviously have no effect on these activities, but it will speed up general browsing and e-mail. Most web pages are loaded with graphics which take up the bulk of the load time, so switching to text-only will eliminate the graphics and save you quite a bit of time.
4) Install a fairness device to make sure no single connection dominates your bandwidth this is especially effective at ensuring your home VOIP service works without interruption.
Everything you do on the Internet creates a connection from inside your network to the Internet, and all of these connections compete for the limited amount of bandwidth your ISP provides.
Your router (cable modem) connection to the Internet provides first come/first serve service to all the applications trying to access the Internet. To make matters worse, the heavier users, the ones with the larger persistent downloads, tend to get more than their fair share of router cycles. Large downloads are like the school yard bully, they tend to butt in line, and not play fair.
By inserting a device that dynamically reduce the large file downloads and high intensity videos, you can provide preferential treatment to VOIP , Chat and email. Although your connection will not be faster it will appear faster when using these services.
5) Turn off the other computers in the house
Many times, even during the day when the kids are off to school, I’ll be using my Skype phone and the connection will break up. I have no idea what exactly the kids’ computers are doing, but if I log them off the Internet, things get better with the Skype call every time. In a sense, it’s a competition for limited bandwidth resources, so, decreasing the competition will usually boost your computer’s performance.
6) Kill background tasks on your computer
You should also try to turn off any BitTorrent or background tasks on your computer if you are having trouble while trying to watch a video or make a VoIP call. Use your task bar to see what applications are running and kill the ones you don’t want. Although this is a bit drastic, you may just find that it makes a difference. You’d be surprised what’s running on your computer without you even knowing it (or wanting it).
For you gamers out there, this also means turning off the audio component on your games if you do not need it for collaboration.
7) Speeding up your iPhone
Ever been in a highly populated area with 3 or 4 bars and still your iPhone access slows to crawl ?
The most likely reason for this problem is congestion on the provider line. 3g and 4g networks all have a limited sized pipe from the nearest tower back to the Internet. It really does not matter what your theoretical data speed is, when there are more people using the tower than the back-haul pipe can handle, you can temporarily lose service, even when your phone is showing three or four bars.
Unfortunately, you only have a couple of options in this situation. If you are in a stadium with a large crowd, your best bet is to text during the action. If you wait for a timeout or end of the game, you’ll find this corresponds to the times when the network slows to a crawl, so try to finish your access before the last out of the game or the end of the quarter. Pick a time when you know the majority of people are not trying to send data.
Get away from the area of congestion. I have experienced complete lockout of up to 30 minutes, when trying to text, as a sold out stadium emptied out. In this situation my only chance was to walk about 1/2 mile or so from the venue to get a text out. Once away from the main stadium, my iPhone connected to a tower with a different back haul away from the congested stadium towers.
8) Kill your virus protection software
With the recent outbreak of the H1N1 virus, it reminded me of how sometimes the symptoms and carnage from a vaccine are worse than the disease it purports to cure. Well, the same holds true for your virus protection software. Yes, viruses are real and can take down your computer, but so can a disk crash, which is also inevitable. You must back up your critical data regularly. However, that virus software seems to dominate more resources on my desktop than anything else. I no longer use anything and could not be happier. But be sure to use a reliable back-up (as you will need to rebuild your computer now and then, which I find a better alternative than running a slow computer all of the time).
9) Bypass that local consumer reseller
This option might be a little bit out of the price range of the average consumer, and it may not be practical logistically - but if you like to do things out-of-the-box, you don’t have to buy Internet service from your local cable operator or phone company, especially if you are in a metro area. Many customers we know have actually gone directly to a Tier 1 point of presence (backbone provider) and put in a radio backhaul direct to the source. There are numerous companies that can set you up with a 40-to-60 megabit link with no gimmicks.
Note these links to commercial tier one providers are pure links to the Internet, and not just a wire speed from your house to the provider that you typically get from a consumer grade service. See our article on Internet Exchange Points for more details on this subject.
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