If your broadband connection is crawling, you’ll understandably want to get it sorted as soon as possible. But first you need to find out why the internet is so slow. Our guide explains what the reasons might be and what you should do about it
Why is my internet so slow?
When you want to get on with video conferences for work, play an online game or stream a movie, there are few things more frustrating than a slow internet connection.
First, you need to establish the cause – and it can range from being a straightforward issue to solve such as a stuck router, to a temporary problem affecting your neighbourhood, to something you’ll need an engineer’s support to fix.
How do I speed up my internet connection?
There are a number of steps you can take to improve your wifi speed.
Restart the router: First thing to try is restarting your modem or router by switching it off, leaving it 30sec and then switching it back on. You could do the same for set-top boxes to make sure you have everything covered.
Move the router: If you’re connecting wirelessly you’ll get the best performance if your device is near to the router. Make sure your router is also clear of any electrical items and any other obstructions such as walls or furniture. If the router has an aerial, make sure it is turned vertically and not horizontally.
Replace the router: Your router is a computer and like all electrical items they sometimes malfunction and need replacing.
Rather than a single router as a replacement, you could also try a mesh router network – several routers placed around the home. These are designed to help improve wifi signal strength in large houses and multi-storey properties.
Get a booster: If you’re experiencing dead spots in certain areas of your home – usually places farthest from the router – then you could get a broadband booster. It will pick up the signal from the router and repeat it, giving you better internet coverage.
Secure your connection: If a number of people are using your wifi connection this can slow it down. You can limit this in the router settings and make sure you have a secure password so no-one outside of your house can guess it and piggy-back on your connection.
Contact your provider: The first step is to check on your broadband provider’s website that there isn’t a wider problem in your area. If there is, your provider is likely to already be aware and published information on when the internet might be back up and running. If the problem is restricted to just your household, they’ll be able to run checks on your line and try and establish the problem. If they can’t fix it remotely they may end up sending out an engineer.
Check your device: Applications could be using the internet in the background on your computer without you knowing it. By hitting Ctrl + Alt + Del on your PC you’ll bring up the task manager to see all the programs that are running. You can then close the ones you don't want.
Clean your device: If your provider says the connection is fine, it’s worth checking your machine is running at its optimal level. Viruses and other malware can slow down your computer, so make sure your it has the latest updates installed and your anti-virus is up to date too. Run a full system scan to flag up any problems.
Plug in: Not an ideal solution when you want a wireless broadband connection, but while you investigate other ways to speed up your broadband you could also try connecting your laptop or desktop computer to your router with an ethernet cable.
Replace your device: If you have an ageing computer the processor may just be on the way out, rather than there being anything wrong with the connection. But before you rush to replace all your old gadgets for new ones, check the broadband speed with a newer device first.
Switch suppliers: If you’re still not happy with your internet speed or tired of poor service or the high price you’re paying, it’s easy to search for an alternative with MoneySuperMarket. You can compare deals quickly and easily in your area before choosing the right package.
How do I measure my broadband speed?
Broadband speed is a mixture of download speed and upload speed. Both are measured in megabits per second (mbps). The download speed is the one most often cited.
It takes just a few moments to measure your connection speed with our straightforward broadband speed test.
All you need to do is enter your postcode and we’ll run a check. You can choose to have the results emailed to you if you want a record. We’ll then show you the best broadband deals available in your area should you be looking to switch providers.
Does resetting your router make the connection faster?
It can do. Restarting your router clears its memory and resets tasks that might have stalled. When you reset, wait for at least 10secs before turning it back on again. This way you’ll make sure you clear every last drop of memory.
Can a new router increase internet speed?
It could help with providing a more stable connection. A new route can’t affect the signal coming into your home, but it could have the capacity to improve the wifi’s reach by emitting a stronger signal to those previous dead spots around the home.
Do wifi boosters work?
Wifi boosters can increase the range of your wireless network in the home. They work by picking up the wifi signal from your router, copying it, and rebroadcasting it to a different area of your house.
There are a few limitations. A wifi booster is governed by the speed of the internet connection coming into the property, the distance you set it up from the router and the demands placed on wifi from your household.
What is a good wifi speed?
Wifi speeds have increased in recent years, and will continue to as we move forward.
What constitutes a good speed depends on what you want to use the internet for. If it’s just for browsing the web and checking emails then speeds even as low as 1-5mbps can suffice.
But if you want to stream movies and play games, then you’ll soon grow weary of a slow connection and want something a bit faster.
Over 25mbps should allow you to stream HD video, but 100-200mbps is what more people aim for and is preferable when you have multiple devices running off your router.
When you go beyond 200mbps you’re into super-fast range and should have more than enough speed for all your internet requirements.
However, it’s also important to find out what speed your household can get, not just what speed is advertised. Otherwise, you could end up paying for a package you can’t make full use of.
What’s the difference between a modem and a router?
These two can often be confused. A modem connects to the internet and a router connects devices to wifi. A router establishes a local network and creates and manages wifi, whereas a modem connects directly to the internet, doesn't set up a local network and isn’t responsible for wifi.
Compare broadband providers
If you’re looking for a faster broadband service, then the quickest way to find one is with MoneySuperMarket.
Just let us know your postcode and we’ll search our leading panel of providers to find the best broadband deals in your area.
You can then filter by costs, contract length, connection speed and what you want in your package, such as a phone line or TV services.