Do you ever find your broadband connection to be jogging – or even ambling – when it should be running flat out? This is undesirable to say the least, especially if you’re paying top whack for superfast access.
Well there are a few things you can do to ensure you’ve got the leanest, meanest net connection going. First off, we’ll tackle things that might be slowing access down at your end. If that doesn’t help, we’ll move on to your ISP. So read on for our top tips on greasing the wheels of your internet access.
What you can do at your end for your broadband:
Upgrade your browser
Be sure that you’re using the latest version of your browser, as older browsers (such as Internet Explorer 6) may handle data in a less efficient way. If you’re not sure which version of your browser you’re using, go to the ‘Help’ menu and select ‘About’, or ‘About [your browser]’. The box that pops up should tell you which version is currently installed.
Switch off any bandwidth-hungry programs
If you have any programs running in the background that are a drain on your connection, and you’re not using them – turn them off! Having programs like BBC’s iPlayer, Channel 4’s 4oD, Skype, MSN, RealPlayer or any p2p programs ticking over in the background could clog up the bandwidth to and from your computer.
Get an iPlate
BT has launched a gizmo called the iPlate, which disables a land line’s ‘bell wire’. This wire was used to make old-school telephones ring, and is now basically obsolete (unless you still use a retro dial phone), but can still cause interference with your broadband if you connect through ADSL. The iPlate has been known to boost speeds by as much as 60%.
This isn’t a guaranteed way of improving your connection. However, sellerBroadbandBuyer.co.uk estimates that around 70% of homes which connect through the phone line could benefit from an iPlate. They’re easy to install and should cost you less than a tenner. And if you don’t notice an improvement, you could get a friend to test it and buy it from you if it works for them – then you’ve lost nothing!
Less of the wireless
It’s difficult to deny that wireless is sexy. The idea of working or just surfing out in the garden on a sunny day is far more appealing that being chained to a desk. However, if it’s epic download speeds that you’re after, then a wireless connection isn’t always your best bet. Certainly if you only have one computer in your home, and it’s a desktop machine to boot, then there’s little benefit from having a wireless connection… You may as well just plug a cable in.
This might not be practical if you have a selection of machines that you’d like to access the net from. In this case, make sure that your wireless router is in its optimum location. Make sure there are as few obstructions between the router and your machines as possible. This also includes any items that might cause electrical interference, such as mobile handsets.
Make sure your wireless is password protected
Another thing that might slow down your wireless connection is unauthorised access to your network by cheeky neighbours. To stop them from piggy-backing on your wireless access, make sure your connection is password protected at very least.
If your connection is still slow:
Check out your speed
Broadband Choices have a free speed checker that you can use on their site to see if your ISP lives up to its speed claims. There is little point paying for an 8Mb package if you are consistently getting speeds of 2Mb or below. It is common for users to get less than their advertised speed, but if you’re getting significantly less then it’s your pocket that’s taking the hit.
Nag your ISP!
If your broadband is a complete under-achiever, why not call your provider to see if there’s anything they can do to improve your speed… What have you got to lose?
And if all else fails:
There’s no reason why you should settle for a lousy connection. So to find out what other ISPs are offering in your area, compare broadband deals with Confused.com. Everything is completely transparent, so you’ll be able to see what’s available in your postcode – including total costs, and the all-important speeds. Plus you can compare at Confused.com for the best possible price – for free!