An unstable internet connection is problematic in today's technology-driven, connected world. Otherwise, you may find yourself unable to accomplish critical tasks and increasingly stressed.
Luckily, you can do some easy things at home to improve your home internet stability and download speeds through home internet optimization.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients maintain their IT systems while building IT strategies.
By the end of this article, you will know seven steps to troubleshoot and improve your home internet's performance.
What is home internet optimization?
Home internet optimization means your home connection is stable, reliable, and meeting speed expectations.
Your upload and download times are within the range purchased from your internet provider without delays or dropped connection.
Internet providers provide subscription packages of various bandwidths and speeds. It's important to understand that home internet optimization does not improve your provider's max internet speed.
For example, if your internet provider's fastest download speed is 1200 Mbps, home optimization won't change your download speed to 1300 Mbps. This is not a technique that will make your devices magically function beyond max download speed.
Instead, home internet optimization will help guarantee that you can steadily download at or close to 1200 Mbps every time.
How do you know your home internet needs optimization?
You likely need home internet optimization if you are unable to accomplish tasks due to the following:
- Dropped or frozen video calls.
- Videos, applications, programs, or websites with long or unending buffering time.
- Slow or interrupted upload and download times.
- Online videos, programs, websites, or applications will not load.
6 Steps to optimize your home internet
1. Verify your internet speed with your provider
First, you will need to know what speeds you're working with and what is available from your internet provider. To find it, check your contract or speak with your provider to see the promised download speed for your service plan.
Then, you can run an internet speed test to see your current download speed.
Compare the promised speed with the result of the test. You are likely optimized if the test result is close to your service plan's promise. However, if the two numbers are far apart, continue troubleshooting to achieve optimization.
2. Check your router's location
All internet routers have a set connection range and, as such, should be placed in a centralized location. If possible, it should be in the line of sight of the connected devices.
The connection can be unstable or slow if the router is too far from the device.
For example, if you are using streaming services or online games in the living room, your router should be in that room or as close as possible. It should not be in a closet on the opposite end of the house.
How do you know if your router is too far away? Check and see how close your device is when it has a strong WiFi signal versus when it is weak.
For example, you have your router in your home office. When you're in your office, your laptop connects wonderfully. However, the connection is slow and shaky when you move across the house into your kitchen.
Your laptop and internet work well in one room but not in another. This is because you're now too far from the router and are outside its sphere of connectivity.
Extending your home WiFi network
To extend this sphere of connectivity, you can purchase access points to create a mesh network. Access points connect to your router wirelessly, but each creates its own WiFi connectivity sphere, expanding your network.
For instance, you can set an access point on your back porch for effortless streaming outdoors. If your router is downstairs, you can place an access point upstairs for a more robust WiFi signal.
3. Verify that the issue is your home network and not your device
Sometimes, we assume the problem is our home WiFi network, not the connected device. However, we don't want to spend more money on faster internet service only to discover what we needed was a new laptop.
To verify the true issue, test multiple devices connected to your network. For example, does your mobile phone load a video that your laptop does not? Or will the video not play on either item?
If you have a stable, smooth connection on one device but not the other, it might be a good idea to examine the slow device. Is it an older device? Has it had any recent updates? Has it been checked for malware? These elements can all affect the download speed on a device.
4. Verify who and what is using your bandwidth
Sometimes, too many people or devices are connected to your WiFi, hogging bandwidth. Check your router to verify what devices are connected and the bandwidth they are using.
Then ask yourself, "Who is using my network, and what are they using it for?"
Do you notice a major slowdown when your kids get home from school and start playing online games? Or maybe when everyone is binging a different streaming service TV show at once?
It's possible that your current bandwidth subscription is not meeting your needs or that too many devices are simultaneously connected. Consider turning off devices that are not in use to ensure they're not using bandwidth in the background.
Or is the signal spotty when an application is doing a significant update? Sometimes, applications will download or update in the background, using a great deal of bandwidth.
Check your computer's Task Manager to verify what programs or applications are running and how much memory and bandwidth they use. Then, if possible, you can shut down the application.
5. Use a wired connection
If you need an ironclad connection, you can plug into your router directly using an ethernet cable.
Cabled connections are more reliable and faster than WiFi connections. However, the device is not as mobile as it's physically connected to the router. Fortunately, ethernet cables come in various lengths to meet your needs.
6. Reset your router or device
Sometimes, a quick reset is all you need.
You can reset your router to start fresh to correct connectivity issues.
You can also restart your device or try clearing your browser cache to speed up loading times. Sometimes, a heavy browser history can create lag.
7. Talk to your provider about the router and your concerns.
If all else fails, call your internet provider and ask them to take a look at your router. It might be that it needs repairs or that the router is old and is due for replacement. Both situations require your provider's expertise.
Next steps to home internet optimization
A reliable, fast home internet connection is a must for both work and play. To help optimize your home WiFi network, you should try the following troubleshooting steps:
- Verify your internet speed with your provider.
- Check your router's location.
- Verify that the issue is your home network and not your device.
- Verify who and what is using your bandwidth.
- Use a wired connection.
- Reset your router or device.
- Talk to your provider about the router and your concerns.
One or a combination of these steps can help you increase your internet speed and stability.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients troubleshoot and solve thousands of IT issues and concerns.
If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a 30-minute consultation to see if WEBIT Services can help.
If you're not ready to talk to our team of experts but would like to learn more about safely using the internet and IT resources, we recommend the following articles: