Home Tech Internet Speed Boosting: A Comparison of Methods

Internet Speed Boosting: A Comparison of Methods

A fast and reliable internet connection is crucial in today’s digital world. However, many factors can affect your browsing speed and lead to frustrations like long load times, streaming interruptions, and lagging video calls. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to optimize your internet connection for faster speeds. This comprehensive guide compares the most effective methods to improve internet browsing speed.

Use a Wired Connection Instead of WiFi

One of the easiest ways to boost your browsing speed is to use a wired Ethernet connection to your router instead of WiFi. Ethernet cables transmit data faster and more reliably than wireless signals. Setting up a wired connection involves plugging an Ethernet cable from your computer or device directly into a free LAN port on your router.

Benefits of wired connections:

  • Faster speeds – Ethernet provides up to 1 Gbps, while WiFi ranges from 54 Mbps to 1.3 Gbps.
  • Lower latency – Wired networks have less lag, improving gaming, video calls, and live streaming.
  • More reliable – Ethernet offers consistent connectivity without signal drops.
  • Higher security – Wired networks are less vulnerable to hacking and snooping.

Downsides of wired connections:

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  • Less mobility – You remain tethered to your router’s location.
  • More cables – Ethernet cables must run from the router to the devices.
  • No connectivity for portable devices – Many mobile devices lack Ethernet ports.

Switching to Ethernet often provides a noticeable speed boost over WiFi for stationary devices like desktop PCs and smart TVs. However, devices that move around your home may still need wireless connectivity.

Upgrade Your WiFi Router

If WiFi is your only option, upgrading your wireless router is key for faster internet speeds. Newer routers support modern standards like 802.11ac WiFi and MU-MIMO, which transmit more bandwidth with less interference. Key router upgrades include:

  • Dual or Tri-Band Support – Look for routers offering both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The 5GHz band delivers faster speeds with less congestion. Tri-band adds a second 5GHz band for more bandwidth.
  • MU-MIMO—This technology allows multiple devices to be served simultaneously via spatial streams instead of one by one, significantly increasing bandwidth utilization.
  • Beamforming – Focuses WiFi signals directly at client devices instead of blasting in all directions. Increases range and stability.
  • QoS Features—Quality of service settings lets you prioritize traffic from demanding apps like video streaming and ensures lag-free performance.
  • Mesh Capabilities – Whole home mesh WiFi systems blanket your home in strong signals by linking multiple access points.

Upgrading to a current WiFi 5 (802.11ac) or WiFi 6 (802.11ax) router from an older 802.11n or 802.11g model can often double your wireless speeds or more.

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Switch to a Faster Internet Plan

If your internet provider offers different speed tiers, switching to a faster plan is an obvious way to speed up browsing. Higher speed plans deliver better performance by increasing your broadband plan’s bandwidth limits.

For example, upgrading from an entry-level plan like 100 Mbps to a gigabit connection with 1000 Mbps will dramatically improve load times and streaming quality. Contact your provider to discuss available plan speeds and pricing.

Keep in mind most providers advertise maximum speeds “up to” a certain level. Your real-world speeds depend on factors like:

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  • Distance to the provider’s nearest hub or equipment. Closer is better.
  • The quality of cables and connections. Old cables or wires inhibit speed.
  • Network congestion during peak usage times. More users online can slow things down.
  • WiFi limitations if wireless networking. Wired Ethernet provides full speeds.

So focus on real-life speed increases rather than just bigger numbers when choosing a faster internet plan.

Use a Local DNS Server

Your internet provider assigns Domain Name System (DNS) servers that convert website names into IP addresses. But these can be overloaded, creating lag. Using custom DNS servers located closer to your network lets you bypass congested ISP servers for faster browsing.

Top alternate DNS options include:

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  • Google – 8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4
  • Cloudflare – 1.1.1.1, 1.0.0.1
  • OpenDNS – 208.67.222.222, 208.67.220.220

Changing DNS servers is done right within your router’s admin interface. This simple tweak can provide a nice speed boost during peak usage times. Just make sure to choose secondary servers from a different provider for redundancy.

Clear Browser Cache and Cookies

Web browsers store temporary internet files and cookies that build up over time. This cached data makes accessing previously visited sites quicker. However, too much cache data can drag down browser performance.

Regularly clearing your browser cache and cookie data forces the browser to re-download fresh site files. This removes corrupted files and frees up disc space for faster loading.

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Browser cache and cookie settings are found in preferences/options:

  • Chrome – Clear browsing data
  • Firefox – Clear recent history
  • Safari – Clear history and website data
  • Edge – Clear browsing data

Perform this maintenance task every month or so. Just remember it will sign you out of sites and remove saved passwords.

Limit Browser Tabs and Extensions

Open browser tabs and extensions may provide useful functionality but they also consume system resources. Keeping too many tabs and unneeded add-ons running drags down speeds.

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To keep your browser lean:

  • Only open tabs you actually need and close ones you’re done with.
  • Disable or remove extensions you don’t use regularly.
  • Quit the browser completely when not surfing to free up RAM.
  • Don’t use more than one browser at a time. Merge tabs into one window.

Also disable any browser processes like background apps and autocorrect that hog resources without providing much benefit. Streamlining your browser goes hand in hand with faster speeds.

Update Network Driver and Firmware

Outdated network drivers, router firmware, and other software can hinder your current internet capabilities. Manufacturers regularly release updates that fix bugs and improve performance.

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Be sure to regularly update:

  • Your devices’ network adapter drivers. Check manufacturer sites.
  • The firmware and software for your router. Consult your router company’s support site.
  • Operating system and browser software. Use Windows/Mac update tools.
  • Apps and programs. Enable auto-updates where possible.

Updating to the latest releases ensures your hardware and software is optimized to handle the fastest speeds.

Position Your Router Properly

WiFi router placement has a big impact on wireless signal strength and coverage. Place your router according to these guidelines for optimal performance:

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  • Near the center of your home or apartment for widest coverage.
  • Avoid cramming it in a corner or enclosure. Allow open air circulation.
  • Place on a higher shelf or wall mounted if possible.
  • Keep away from thick walls, metal objects, and other electronics that can block signals.
  • Within line of sight to devices if using older 2.4GHz networks. 5GHz travels better through walls.
  • Connect devices to closer mesh nodes if using a mesh router system.

Experiment to find the best location. Use WiFi analytics to identify dead zones. Proper placement greatly enhances WiFi speeds and reliability throughout your home.

Change WiFi Channel to Reduce Interference

Neighborhood WiFi networks, Bluetooth devices, and household electronics can all interfere with your wireless signal on the default channel. Switching to a clearer channel can drastically increase WiFi speeds.

Optimizing your channel to reduce interference involves:

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  • Download a WiFi analyzer app to detect congested channels.
  • Log into your router admin and change the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels.
  • Choose the least crowded channels according to the analyzer.
  • Use channels 1, 6, or 11 on 2.4GHz for best separation.
  • Refresh your WiFi network connection after changing channels.

Periodic scans for interference combined with channel optimization keeps speeds high. Just avoid channels overlapping neighboring networks.

Disable Bandwidth-Hogging Apps and Devices

Bandwidth-intensive apps running in the background and multiple device connections can congest your home network. Streaming video, gaming, video calls and file downloads require high bandwidth. Some tips to limit congestion:

  • Pause large downloads and uploads when not actively using them.
  • Set online games and streaming apps to lower bandwidth modes.
  • Limit connected devices when possible to essentials only.
  • Disable background app updates and syncing. Schedule these overnight instead.
  • Turn off auto-play video and music in apps. Stream manually instead.
  • Limit video call quality or use audio-only if speeds lag.
  • Disable WiFi on portable devices when not in use at home.

Managing bandwidth-hogging devices and traffic during peak hours reduces network congestion. Prioritize your essential tasks only.

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Contact Your ISP if Issues Persist

For many households, the above DIY tweaks are sufficient to speed up internet access. But if your browsing still seems slower than advertised after trying these, get in touch with your provider.

Explain the issues you are experiencing and times of peak slowdowns. The ISP can help troubleshoot problems like:

  • Faulty equipment needing replacement.
  • Damaged cables or infrastructure requiring repairs.
  • An oversaturated neighborhood node in need of capacity upgrades.
  • Malware or viruses infecting your network.
  • Bandwidth being throttled or incorrectly allocated.

Most providers want to ensure their customers get the speeds they pay for. Working with tech support can uncover and resolve physical or technical factors degrading your internet performance at the source.

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Comparison of Top Methods to Speed Up Browsing

MethodSpeed IncreaseDifficultyCost
Use wired ethernet connectionHighLowLow
Upgrade router to 802.11ac/WiFi 6HighModerate$$
Switch to faster internet planVery HighLow$$$
Change DNS serversModerateLowFree
Clear browser cacheModerateLowFree
Limit browser tabs & extensionsLow-ModerateLowFree
Update network driver & firmwareLow-ModerateLowFree
Optimize router placementModerateLowFree
Change WiFi channelHighLowFree
Limit bandwidth-hogging appsModerateModerateFree
Contact ISP for assistanceHighLowFree
Top Methods to Speed Up Browsing

FAQ About Improving Internet Speeds

What is the most impactful upgrade for faster browsing?

Switching to a higher speed internet plan through your provider enables faster speeds throughout your network. Gigabit fiber optic plans deliver the fastest performance.

How can I benchmark my internet speeds?

Use speed test tools like Speedtest.net and Fast.com to measure your current download and upload speeds. Compare results over Ethernet vs WiFi and peak vs off-peak times.

How can I monitor my home network usage?

Your router admin interface provides tools to view connected devices, active applications, bandwidth utilization charts, and other useful analytics. Some routers have apps to remotely monitor usage.

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Should I get a mesh WiFi system or extender for full home coverage?

Mesh WiFi systems work better for blanketing larger homes in strong coverage. They coordinate signals across multiple access points. Extenders can create interference so are best for small dead zones.

What internet speed do I really need for streaming and gaming?

Minimum 25 Mbps for 4K streaming on 1 device. 50+ Mbps if multiple streams or gaming. Faster is better – shoot for 200+ Mbps if available. Gigabit speeds provide headroom.

How can I optimize gaming and streaming with other internet activity?

Use router Quality of Service features to prioritize traffic to gaming devices and smart TVs. Limit bandwidth from other households members during these activities. An upgraded router can help here.

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Why is my internet still slow after an upgrade?

Old cables, interference, distance from equipment, congestion during peak times, and device limitations are among factors that can prevent you from experiencing advertised maximum speeds. Contact your provider for troubleshooting.

Should I pay more for unlimited data if I stream a lot?

Yes, unlimited data removes slowdowns and overage fees from exceeding caps on metered plans. They cost more but provide peace of mind for heavy streaming households.

Summary – A Faster Internet Enhances Everything

Slow internet connectivity causes endless frustration. Fortunately, with the proper tools, settings, equipment, and provider plan, you can enjoy significantly faster browsing. Optimizing your network and devices makes everyday web surfing, video streaming, and large downloads much more bearable. Invest the time to implement these tips and you’ll wonder how you ever lived with a sluggish connection!

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