10 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your Internet Connection

Slow internet got you down? Follow our tips to speed up your connection, or compare internet providers if you think it's time to switch.

Catherine McNally
Editorial Lead, Internet & Gaming
Read More
Published on June 21, 2021
6 min read

We’ve rounded up 10 easy, cheap, and practical tips to get you a faster internet connection and stop waiting for Netflix to buffer.

Everybody wants faster internet. But there’s a lot of info out there and a lot of potential solutions you can try, and 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 looked at everything from your router, to your browser, and even your internet provider. Let's dig in.



Troubleshooting vs. Upgrading
Light Bulb

Want to troubleshoot your current setup to increase your speed? Read on below.

Already know you need to swap plans to boost your internet speed? Take look at our top recommended internet service providers.

Recommended Internet Providers
Provider
Monthly price
Download speeds
Upload speeds
Learn more
$19.99$94.99*501200 Mbps535 Mbps
$50$65100940 Mbps30940 Mbps
$4575100 Mbps8100 Mbps
$30$169.99^12100 Mbps3 Mbps
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.
New customers only. Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply.
For the first 12 months plus taxes and equip. fee.
^ For the first 3 months.

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.

Which ISPs have data caps—and which ones don't?
Megaphone

Thinking of swapping to a new internet provider? It's worth checking out its data policy. We've got a list of which ISPs offer unlimited data versus which ones cap your data each month.

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:

  • TV
  • 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.

We highly recommend an Ethernet cable for gaming
Pin
Nothing's worse than lagging out mid-boss fight. That's why we recommend using an Ethernet cable if you game. And if you're shopping for a new ISP to support your gaming habits, we think these 10 ISPs are pog for gaming.

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.

Our recommended ad-blocking plugin is Adblock Plus. It's free and works on most web browsers. Some VPNs also offer ad blockers, like NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost.

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 virus and malware scanners

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 Clear Cache for Chrome 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.

Need a confidence boost before calling customer service?
Info Box

We've got your back. Try these three tips for calling your internet customer service. They'll help you keep your cool and might even give you an edge when it comes to negotiating.

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 and check this month's internet deals to figure out if an alternative provider might give you a better price.

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. Especially if you’re using satellite internet and find out you can switch to cable or DSL. (DSL or cable will most likely get you faster speeds and more data than satellite internet.)

Check out our top recommended internet providers or use our zip finder below to see what your options are in your area.

The best internet service providers
Providers
Monthly price
Download speeds
Upload speeds
Learn more
$19.99$94.99*501200 Mbps535 Mbps
$50$65100940 Mbps30940 Mbps
$35$60300940 Mbps300880 Mbps
$30$169.99^12100 Mbps3 Mbps
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.
New customers only. Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply.
For the first 12 months plus taxes and equip. fee.
^ For the first 3 months.
Find and compare internet providers available near you.

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.

But in case you aren't... Here's a few comparisons worth considering:

Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

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