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How To Speed Up Your Internet

Cut down your loading times with our Wi-Fi and internet tips.

Whether you’re trying to open up Facebook or stream yesterday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, slow download and upload speeds can feel like your computer is in a pit of quicksand. But with our tips, you’ll be able to kick constant loading screens to the curb and get a faster internet connection.

1. Restart your computer

Most of the time, slow internet speeds are caused by network issues or computer issues that look like slow loading times.

By restarting your computer, smartphone, or tablet, you’ll refresh the device’s internal memory. A restart also flushes out any performance issues that might have been caused by leaving the device on for too long.

To avoid device issues and save power (your parents were right; power bills aren’t cheap), we’d recommend turning your device off when you’re not using it or restarting it once every few days.

How do you know if your connection is working properly?

Once you’ve tried one or more of these methods, you can check your download and upload speeds with an internet speed test. If all is going well, the numbers should at least loosely match the numbers your internet service provider promised when you signed up for a plan. If you’re not satisfied with your internet service provider (ISP), check out our guide to the fastest internet providers.

2. Clear your internet browser’s cache

Your internet browser’s cache is like a file cabinet. Every time you visit a website, your cache stores items, like images, to shorten loading times if you go back to the site. But if the cache gets too large, it’ll take longer for your browser to find files and result in longer loading times.

We’d suggest clearing out your cache once every few weeks to keep your browser in peak condition. Check out the guides below to learn how to clear out your browser’s cache.

3. Install an ad blocker

Website banner ads, auto-playing videos, and pop-up prompts aren’t just eyesores—they also increase website loading times. Ad-blocking plug-ins like AdBlock automatically prevent intrusive ads from loading.

Pro tip: If you’re a magazine or local newspaper subscriber, you may be able to view their website with fewer or no ads. Check your subscriptions for any digital subscriber benefits.

4. Use an Ethernet cable

Wi-Fi networks are convenient if you’re frequently moving around the house, but if your computer is close to your wireless router, or you don’t mind having cabling lying around, Ethernet cables offer the fastest internet connection.

Ethernet cables physically connect devices to the internet, so they aren’t affected by wireless signal problems. But relying on Ethernet cables can be a harder sell if your home isn’t wired for Ethernet or you’re trying to connect devices that aren’t near your router.

5. Move your wireless router around

If you’re (understandably!) not sold on solving your internet connection problems by having a 50-foot Ethernet cable connected to your laptop all the time, your next step is router troubleshooting.

Think about Wi-Fi routers like a music speaker—its audio quality is affected by where you place the speaker. If you place the speaker underneath a table or in a different room, you’ll have a poor listening experience. Likewise, if your router is down in your basement’s backroom, your home will have an uneven Wi-Fi signal, and you’ll experience slower download speeds.

Try moving your router near the living room or a central area in your home. Your goal is to get the router towards the middle of your home to ensure that everyone gets a consistent Wi-Fi signal.

6. Restart your router

Like your computer or tablet, routers can use occasional restarts to flush out performance issues that cause internet problems.

Manually unplug and replug your router every few weeks or install an outlet timer to take care of router restarts. On newer wireless routers, you might be able to automatically schedule restarts using the router’s administrative tools.

7. Optimize your router

Configuring router settings can be pretty technically advanced, but if you’re comfortable adjusting DNS server settings (or poring over the router manual), you can optimize your Wi-Fi network to get faster internet speeds.

Exact router features vary by manufacturer, but use these starting points to maximize your internet performance:

Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) and Quality of Service (QoS)

These settings help your router evenly direct network traffic. When they’re properly set, both features ensure that one person downloading a movie won’t tank the internet for everyone else.

2.4 Ghz or 5 Ghz wireless bands

When you connect something to your Wi-Fi network, newer router models will automatically send it to a 2.4 Ghz or 5 Ghz wireless band. Correctly pairing hardware to the right wireless band ensures that you’ll get the best internet speeds based on your device and location.

8. Extend your Wi-Fi router’s range

If you have a big house or a centrally placed router and you’re still dealing with Wi-Fi dead zones, your router will need a little assistance for full household coverage.

Extenders like powerline adapters and mesh Wi-Fi systems will increase your internet network’s range. You won’t get faster internet speeds in areas that already had strong coverage, but you’ll get consistent internet speeds throughout the entire house.

Time for an upgrade

If your wireless router is starting to show its age and can’t keep up with network traffic, consider an upgrade pick from our cable modem/router and Wi-Fi router guides.

9. Upgrade your internet plan

Between smart TVs, tablets, and smartphones, connected devices can quickly eat up your network’s available bandwidth and slow down your internet. If you’re in a household with a lot of internet users and frequently running into speed issues even after trying our tips, consider changing your internet plan.

Check out our picks for the fastest internet service providers or enter your zip code below to see ISPs in your area.

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How to speed up your internet FAQ

How can I increase my Wi-Fi speed at home?

The easiest way to increase your Wi-Fi speed is to connect to the router’s 5 GHz band.

Why is my internet so slow?

Slow internet is caused by a lot of issues, but disconnecting and reconnecting to your home Wi-Fi network solves most common Wi-Fi problems. Check out our slow internet speeds guide to learn more about common Wi-Fi speed problems.

How can I boost up my internet speed?

The easiest ways to get faster internet speeds is to connect to the internet via Ethernet cable, get closer to your Wi-Fi router, connect to the router’s 5 Ghz band, or pay for a faster internet plan.

Do Wi-Fi boosters work?

Wi-Fi boosters are primarily built to extend your Wi-Fi network’s range and cover areas that can’t be reached by a single router. But they aren’t designed to significantly increase home internet speeds.

Does having two routers increase internet speed?

Two routers can increase your home internet speed if you connect them via Ethernet cable and configure them correctly. But they won’t increase your maximum internet speed—you can do that only by upgrading your provider’s internet plan.

What is a good download speed?

We recommend a download speed of no less than 25 Mbps for most basic tasks. But if you’re looking to stream video and support multiple devices, a good download speed will be something closer to 100 Mbps.

Is 1 Mbps fast?

No, 1 Mbps is not fast. You won’t be able to stream videos, download files, or even surf the web easily with a download speed of only 1 Mbps. We recommend at least 25 Mbps for most basic surfing.

Need an internet upgrade?

Enter your zip code below to see local internet providers in your area.

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Our internet experts have spent thousands of hours hitting the proverbial books, and they’re here to help you resolve all your connectivity woes. For more on our background and research processes, head over to How We Rank.

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