Internet Speed Tips from the Experts

July 25th, 2017 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here.

While many ISPs promise lightning fast speeds, the reality is that internet speeds aren’t always as fast as you might expect.

Your internet speed can be affected by factors such as your Wi-Fi connection, your router and your network traffic, so if you want to avoid video streaming slowdowns and productivity interruptions, reviewing your internet setup is an essential first step.

With a little guidance thanks to the best internet speed tips from broadband experts, you too can maximise your internet speed and avoid slowdowns at home and at work.

Testing

Check and test your speed on a regular basis

Sometimes your internet connection can feel like it’s lagging; at other times, it seems super fast and allows you to stream videos and download large files without issues. Our perception of internet speeds can be subjective, and speeds can be impacted by open apps that are competing for bandwidth.

The only way to be certain of your connection speed is to do an internet speed test. Bryan from Telco Independent Consulting recommends running a speed test on Speedtest, a free service that’s easy to use.

Paul Boyce of Cel-Fi also recommends using Speedtest to check your speed regularly, while Nick Broughall from Finder.com.au suggests using Google’s speed test. You can use this service by entering ‘speed test’ in Google. Broughall claims that the Google speed test snippet is useful because it tells your current speed, and provides you with suggestions for what you can do with your current speed.

Aussie Broadband have developed their own speedtest to assist their customers with checking their internet speed, and best of all the speedtest will automatically attach its results to your account in order to provide you with a detailed speedtest history. At this time the Aussie Broadband speed test is only available to customers. It’s important to note that any external speed test servers can produce misleading results due to upstream problems. However using speed tests to test performance to particular locations can be quite helpful which is useful for international speed checks.

Check each connected device

Before assuming that it’s your network that’s at fault for slower speeds, check all the connected devices on your network to find out if they’re contributing to the issue. It could be that that real cause behind a slowdown in speeds is actually a specific device or program on a device. By running a simple test, you may find that it’s a background process, such as running backups, or even a malware-infected device that’s now using your network to infect other devices across the internet.

You can use something like Wireshark, a free app that lets you review all the data packets on your network to check whether specific devices are clogging up your connection and causing the slowdown. If you know how to get into your router’s administration interface, try logging in, checking the reports and logs, and finding out whether certain devices are more bandwidth heavy than others. If there are unknown devices, your network might have been hacked and your bandwidth being stolen, so you’ll want to boot off these devices from your network and change your password.

There’s also the option of switching off one device at a time to find out which one is using up excessive amounts of data. Switch the devices one at a time and check your network speed with something like Speedtest as you go. This way, you can isolate which device is compromising speeds for other users.

Hardware

Troubleshoot your modem/router

If you’re experiencing slow speeds, start by turning your modem and router on and off. A reset should only be performed if you have consulted your network’s support team and they make this recommendation, as this can complicate any future faults claims.

Connect to the network with other devices to see whether the same slow speeds are universal across the network or if it’s confined to just one device. If it’s just the one device, then it’s probably an issue with the device itself rather than your network.

If it’s a network issue, you should try troubleshooting the network, or simply contact your ISP support team. If you’re fairly tech savvy, you can also try changing the channel and/or frequency band on your Wi-Fi.

Reposition your modem/router and upgrade antenna

The position of your modem-router unit(s) can have a major impact on the quality of your connection. As you’re probably already well aware, wireless signals become weaker the larger the distance, so minimise the distance between your device and your wireless router as much as possible.

Walls can have an impact on signal strength and affect your connection speeds, so experiment by positioning your router-modem unit in different places around the workplace or home to achieve the best possible signal strength. Alternatively, consider investing in some larger antennas to boost signal strength and enhance connection speeds.

Bryan from Telco Independent Consulting suggests locating Wi-Fi modems close to devices that will be accessing the network, and this won’t necessarily mean that your modem will be at the centre of the house or office. He also recommends not positioning the modem at floor level for best results, so keep it off the ground on a table or stand.

Nick Broughall of Finder.com.au agrees positioning is essential but notes that it is hard to get right. He recommends centrally locating your modem-router unit but keeping it away from the kitchen to avoid your stainless steel appliances absorbing and compromising your network signal strength.

Upgrade your modem/router

Whether you’re using a modem and router unit that you bought five year ago, or a unit provided by your ISP when you first signed up, if it’s an older unit, it could be slowing you down. It might also be locked to a previous provider. This could be preventing you from logging into the interface and changing the settings. By upgrading to a newer unit, you might be able to achieve better speeds since the latest models tend to offer better potential speeds compared with older modems.

Always check with your ISP before you buy a new modem-router unit. Bryan from Telco Independent Consulting recommends using only the ISP’s recommended modem-router units so you get efficient support when you need it. Nick Broughall suggests using at least dual-band routers that supports the AC Wi-Fi standard.

To discover which modem-router unit is recommended by Aussie Broadband, visit our website now.

Minimise WiFi Congestion

If you’re experiencing slow WiFi speeds and you live in an apartment complex or somewhere likely to have a lot of WiFi connections close by, you will most likely experience slower internet speeds due to WiFi congestion.

Every wireless router on the market can transmit signals in a radio frequency range of 2.4 GHz, meaning that it’s an incredibly crowded spectrum (especially in close proximity dwellings). Within this spectrum there are a range of different channels you can use - most people never change the default channel meaning it can be the most crowded. To combat this you can login to your router and test all of the channels offered, as finding the least congested one will maximise your internet speed.

This article on our blog explains in more detail about WiFi congestion, and what you can do to combat it.

Secure your router to prevent bandwidth theft

Make sure your router is securely set up, with WPA2 encryption (the best encryption standard available for routers) and a strong username and password for your SSID. Set your router broadcasting to off so it’s not visible to other users unless they have the SSID. The more secure your connection, the less likely someone can hack it, steal your bandwidth, and slow down your access speeds.

We asked our tech support team their recommendation for router security, with this response.

”I recommend that your password is a minimum of 8 characters long with at least one uppercase letter, one number and symbol.’’

- Will.

Change your filter

If you’re using an ADSL or ADSL2+ connection, your filter could be the issue. Over time, filters can wear out and cause extra signal noise. This may then affect your ADSL synchronisation speed. Change your filter if it’s an older one or if you think it’s likely to be the cause of the slower speed.

Device

Close competing applications

It’s tempting to have a range of data-heavy applications running in the background as you’re streaming a movie or working on your computer. However, most of the time it’s probably not vital to have everything from your torrent client and Skype to weather and news widgets and malware software running in the background.

While individual apps won’t use up a significant amount of data, too many of these open at the same time can compromise your internet speed, not to mention slowing down your computer or device processes. Check what’s loading at start-up and switch off the auto-run function to stop unnecessary applications loading every time you turn on your computer.

Practice optimal surfing and access

Optimised surfing can improve your overall internet connection experience. Bryan, for example, says he avoids doing internet-intensive work during the mid-afternoon. Make a list of bandwidth-heavy and bandwidth-light tasks, and work on the former when you have a faster connection.

Aim to do work outside your browser and other connected apps as much as possible. For example, try working offline in Microsoft Word rather than Google Docs. Download large files overnight, and schedule backups and other data-intensive processes for off-peak periods, when you’re not going to be doing work on your device. Nick Broughall notes that concurrent video streams can significantly slow down internet speeds, so avoid these or coordinate viewing times if there are multiple video streams slowing down the connection for everyone.

Smart surfing will also make things easier. We’re all used to using multiple tabs, but sticking to just one tab as you go could allow you to achieve a faster access speed faster because you don’t have a lot of competing tabs on automatic refresh. You can use an extension such as Tabs Limiter With Queue to keep track of the tabs you’ll be opening next, while tab-free browsers such as Colibri eliminates the temptation to have multiple tabs open.

Extensions like uBlock Origin ensures that websites are optimised as you load them, so ads and other unnecessary elements are filtered down and your bandwidth minimised. Other extensions designed to help you to switch between user agents means you can quickly access mobile versions of sites and reduce download requirements, all to support faster speeds.

Regularly run a cleaner on your computer, tablet and mobile

Do a weekly detox on your devices, including clearing your browsing history and cache. While this won’t necessarily speed up actual network and router speeds, it can make your browser and pages load faster. Download a tuneup utility application and set up automatic cleanups.

”I perform a cleanup at least once a week, as I believe it stops browser from regularly becoming unresponsive.’’

- Will.

ISP

Understand your contract terms

Checking your ISP contract lets you know how fast your internet connection is supposed to be, and you can find out whether there are any additional conditions that could slow down your speed such as shaping. Your ISP might shape your access speeds if you exceed your allocated data allowance. This means you’ll have an automated slowdown of your access speed once you’ve used up a certain amount of data.

“I generally advise customers to think ahead when picking their plans, if you only intend to use your connection for light browsing and emails you probably won’t require much data however if you’re media hungry then a larger plan is probably for you.’’

- Will.

Select an award winning ISP

When choosing an ISP it’s important to select a provider with an award winning nbnTM network. For example, here at Aussie Broadband we have the aim to avoid congestion on our networks by implementing a stop-sell measure whereby new customers won’t be connected to a POI where there is not enough bandwidth available. This means you’ll never be sold a plan that has speeds which are unachievable - unlike many of the other large telcos in Australia.

Even if you don’t yet have the nbn, it’s something every Australian will eventually have to switch over to. That’s why it’s best to plan for the future by choosing an ISP that is dedicated to giving you the best connection possible.

Contact your ISP

If after troubleshooting and adjusting you’re still experiencing a slowdown, it might be time to contact your ISP for more information. There might be service issues behind the slower speeds, so your ISP might have a technician check your lines for any faults. Your ISP can also give you advice on resetting your router and perhaps upgrading to a more suitable router if your current model is contributing to the slow access speed.

To find out how Aussie Broadband can help you improve your internet speeds, contact us here.

The internet is an integral part of daily life, so slowdowns can have a major impact on your work and leisure. Many things can impact the speed of your internet connections, so it’s often by a process of elimination that you determine what’s causing the slowdown. By troubleshooting, learning a few simple hacks from experts and contacting your ISP if necessary, you can achieve speed improvements and enjoy better connectivity.