Everybody wants faster internet. If you’ve ever had to wait for Netflix to buffer while watching Stranger Things, you’ve probably also wondered how to up your internet speed so you can finally find out when Eleven and Mike will see each other again.
Slow internet sucks—there’s no way around it. So how do you speed up your connection?
There’s a lot of info out there and a lot of potential solutions you can try, but not all of them work. Some tips are straight-up fake and others are really technical and/or expensive.
We’re here to help you speed up your internet on the cheap, and without having to spend a million hours figuring out how your router works.
We’ve rounded up ten easy, cheap, and practical tips to get you a faster connection and stop the slow buffering.
1) Consider your data cap
Data caps are one of the biggest culprits of slow internet speeds out there. ISPs don’t advertise their data caps for obvious reasons, but they can seriously mess with your connection.
A data cap means you can use a certain amount of data every month—anything from a couple hundred megabytes to hundreds of gigabytes. If you exceed your data limit, your ISP will seriously restrict your internet speeds. And you’ll notice.
If you don’t know whether or not you have a data cap, check your bill. Chances are you do, and it will be outlined in the fine print. If you keep exceeding your data cap every month, talk to your provider about a plan with a higher data limit.
2) Give your router a break
Reset your router every month or so to give the device a break and refresh your internet connection. If you experience serious speed issues, you might consider resetting your router every day.
If you have a modem separate from your router, reset that too. Resetting the modem stimulates your connection to your ISP, and that’s what turning it on and off again is all about.
Don’t want to add another task to your to-do list? Easy, get an outlet timer like Century’s programmable timer. You can plug your modem and router into a timer that will turn the system on and off for you. Set the timer to restart the system every night while you’re in bed. That way, you can wake up to that fresh internet feeling every morning.
Keep in mind resetting your router and modem won’t magically turn your snail of a connection into a cheetah. But it will help—and it’s a super easy fix.
3) Reposition your router
This is a quick one—is your router in some remote corner of your house? If so, move it.
If the Wi-Fi signal from the router can’t reach you, your internet connection will suffer. Position your router toward the middle of your house, preferably on whichever floor you hang out on the most. If you spend all your time in the living room on the first floor, put your router on that same level.
4) Embrace ethernet
Everybody uses Wi-Fi these days, which is great. Wireless connections are awesome and convenient, but they’re not always fast. Cabled connections like ethernet, will always be faster and more reliable than wireless ones. The cable gets the signal directly to your device rather than relying on over-the-air transmissions.
If you can, connect your most important devices to the internet via an ethernet cable.
Connect these devices to ethernet:
- PlayStation, Xbox, or other gaming console
- Laptop or desktop computer
Especially if you tend to watch data-heavy media like videos on your TV, cable connections are best.
Oh, and there’s a bonus: ethernet is automatically more secure than Wi-Fi. If you want to keep your banking information absolutely private, ethernet is a better way to go.
5) Block those ads
Almost every content provider displays advertisements. Everywhere you go online there are endless ads, pictures, GIFs, and auto-played videos.
Even if you don’t mind watching/seeing advertisements, your internet connection does. Ad media slows down your internet connection, so sometimes it’s easiest to just block them. Install an ad-blocking plugin that will shut down those data-heavy auto-play videos, and you’ll free up some breathing room for your connection.
6) Use a streamlined browser
If you’re anything like us, you routinely keep dozens of tabs and windows open on your browser. (You really are going to read that Buzzfeed listicle from 2014. We know.) But all that open media can slow down your connection, which is why we recommended having a backup browser like Opera.
Opera streamlines all the data on web pages to give you a faster browsing experience. We wouldn’t recommend using Opera on a daily basis, but if you really need to look something up and your Wi-Fi connection is particularly terrible, you can switch to Opera without disturbing your tab ecosystem.
7) Install a virus/malware scanner
If you haven’t already done so, we highly recommend installing an antivirus- and malware-scanning software. It’s probably obvious that any viruses or malware lurking on your computer will put a major drag on your internet speed. Plus, you should have protection software installed as a general rule anyway.
Once you have some good software on board, set it to scan for viruses and malware automatically on a regular basis. If the software does find existing viruses or malware (hence your slow internet speeds), get it removed by a computer technician and get back to easy browsing.
8) Install a “clear cache” plugin
If you’ve never heard of a “cache” on your internet browser, now’s the time to find out what it is. As you visit websites and enter information, browsers collect little bits of information about you, often in the form of cookies. Marketers use your data to send you relevant ads for stuff you might want to buy based on your browsing behavior. If you’ve ever seen the same ad follow you around the internet, then you’re already familiar with this concept.
To get rid of all those cookies and trackers, you have to clear the “cache” on your browser. You can do this manually, but it’s easier to install a plugin like this one so you can do it in one click. Make it a habit to clear your cache every day so all that accumulated data doesn’t affect your internet speeds.
9) Negotiate with your internet service provider
Even if there’s only one ISP in your town, it probably has multiple plans. If you don’t like your speed, your provider might offer a higher speed plan that would better serve you. Yeah, we know it’s no fun to pay more money every month, but if your internet is driving you crazy and there’s no better provider in sight, it might be the best option you have.
Call your provider and ask about alternative plans, or do some research online to find out what other users are paying for similar plans. You might also be able to find deals online the company won’t tell you about over the phone.
10) Get a different internet provider
Sometimes your internet provider is the biggest problem. We admit this tip isn’t necessarily easy or simple, but it is practical and might even be cheaper for you in the long run. If your internet provider is going to give you a slow connection no matter how many other tips you try, consider a swap.
Most areas have only a couple Internet Service Providers (ISPs) available, so it should be a pretty quick check to see if the other provider that serves your area has better prices for faster speeds. You can skim this roundup of best ISPs to figure out if an alternative provider might give you a better deal.
Switching providers should be a last resort, but if you try the other tips on our list and your speed is still sluggish, it might be time to make a change. Check out our zip finder to see what your options are.
If you’re using satellite internet and you find out you can switch to cable or DSL? Make the change—it will make a huge difference to your Netflix sessions.
Keep your speed up and keep surfing
We know slow internet speeds can feel physically painful, especially if you deal with a slow connection and high priorities every day. Use these ten tips to up your speed a bit without wading through overly technical server details, and don’t worry—you should be back to uninterrupted binging in no time.