We’ve all been there. Waiting for cloud transfers and downloads to complete. Or, facing the embarrassment of internet dropouts while watching an online NHL game with your friends. While some service issues can be caused by a poor internet service provider, there are some things you can do to ensure your network is not the cause of the service problems. Read on for our Top 5 tips to speed up your internet service.
Tip 1: Invest in high quality network equipment
This is a huge category however, it’s a very important one. Your 5 year old Linksys, Asus or Cisco home router can’t keep up with today’s fibre speeds. To fix and speed up your internet service, it might be as simple and easy as replacing your old router.
Years ago when you had DSL service your router probably worked great. This was because the bottleneck was the internet service itself. When your equipment becomes the bottleneck delays and dropped packets are the result. The major difference here is that the device can’t process the data fast enough, instead of the device sitting idle waiting for data to arrive. Upgrade that router to a modern model that supports your gigabit service.
The Asus RT-AC66U (2012) is a great 802.11ac WiFi router and is still supported. It theoretically can reach gigabit WAN speeds. In reality the router won’t ever get there with anything but simple packet filtering turned on. The processor just can’t keep up.
Replacing your router isn’t as difficult as it once was. They are mostly plug and play now and offer an interactive management website to get up and running quickly.
Tip 2: Don’t expect miracle speeds and connection stability from WiFi
WiFi has come a long way in recent years. The new 802.11ax standard is truly amazing! But, WiFi, like any wireless service is subject to interference and bandwidth limitations. Years ago, and to a degree today, simply running your microwave was enough to cause a video stream to drop off!
The gold standard to a solid video stream is wiring in your device. Your SmartTV, DVR, various sticks and PVRs will benefit from a rock solid data connection. It’s a small investment but removes all wireless variables and can keep that 4K stream or XBox gaming session operating at it’s peak.
If you can’t wire in your devices such as Tablets and Smartphones or the Nintendo Switch, consider moving your access points as close to those locations as possible. As your distance from the access point decreases, your signal strength will go up and interference will reduce.
The last point about WiFi is access points have a fixed number of radios and wired network connections on them. The access point’s maximum bandwidth is shared with all the devices on that access point. If you have several family members streaming at the same time on a single AP, your experience will be poor. Try watering your lawn with 5 sprinklers connected to the same tap. Each sprinkler will only get 1/5th the water!
If you have a lot of devices using WiFi, ensure your access points are modern and updated. In addition, consider adding a second or third access point in your office or home to spread out the load. Remember though, each access point should have a dedicated wire connecting it to your switch. Ubiquity offers some amazing affordable products in this area and if you need some advice on set up, we’re here to help!
Tip 3: Invest in a decent switch
Many routers on the market today have ports on the back of them to connect your PCs, printers, additional access points, NAS or shared storage devices, NVR or security camera systems etc. As the number of connected devices increases the capability of the router to process the data coming from all the ports becomes strained. We talked about the WAN port on the router previously, the LAN ports have the same consideration and often there is 5 or more of them!
It’s best not to use the switch ports on the router for this reason and offload the work to a separate switch. Not only will it stabilize your router’s performance but it will give you extra space to add additional devices to your network and improve performance for your NAS devices with Bonding or Teaming.
Enterprise routers have a limited number of ports on them partly for this reason and because a switch has integrated hardware designed for this purpose.
Our recommendation is to pick up a switch that is 2x larger than the number of cables you’ll be plugging in to it. This will give you room to add devices in the future and it will ensure the switch is not the bottleneck in your network.
Tip 4: Check your cables
To get the fastest, most reliable connection to the internet, ensure you are using high quality CAT6 or above patch cables and keystone connectors for your network equipment. CAT5, CAT5E is an obsolete standard and while it will support gigabit speeds, lengths are limited and they are not ideal. In addition, bad cables can cause intermittent problems and packet loss. Data transmission speeds and reliability will be reduced if you have poorly crimped, bent or damaged cables.
Replace bent, folded, or damaged network cables and ensure you are running the latest cable standard when you are wiring in data cabling in your office or home.
Tip 5: Run speedtest occasionally to monitor your network speeds
Speedtest is a great tool to check your internet service provider’s performance. After all you want to make sure you are getting what you pay for! If you find a significant difference between your tested speed results and the internet providers advertised speeds, it may make sense to give them a call.
However before you do that, there are some things to look out for when running this tool.
- Test when wired in to your network. WiFi works but you must be connected at a speed faster than your internet service. Otherwise you’re just testing your local network WiFi speed! A Test performed over WiFi will result in much higher delay (latency) than being Wired in.
- Ensure your internet traffic is minimal (no video streaming or gaming!) or cloud backups/uploads. Remember all devices connected to the network access the internet using the same equipment and service. Turn off all Netflix streams to perform a valid bandwidth test.
- When possible connect directly to the internet service provider modem before running speedtest. This eliminates all of your network components from the test.
- Time of day will make a difference. If you run your test at home during the evening hockey game, you’ll see a slower result. Run it at noon in your neighborhood while everyone is at work.
- The site you connect to with this tool will make a difference as well. It’s best to use one that your internet service provider hosts.
I hope you’ve found these Top 5 tips to speed up your internet service useful and if you did, be sure to share this post. And if you need some advice or would like additional tips on what to check, we’re here to help!
Check out more of our How-To’s for additional great tips like this one.