Free Ways to Speed Up Your Internet

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A few months ago my internet service started failing in an epic way. At first, we’d need to reboot everything once every two weeks, then weekly, and then even daily. It was so bad at one point that I was restarting the router every two hours. I was spending an hour on the phone every day with our internet provider (Spectrum). I teach online, do all my grocery shopping online and manage multiple facebook groups, so dealing with this was absolutely maddening.  I was desperate for faster internet.

In the process of figuring out what was wrong and how to fix it, I learned a LOT and discovered multiple tricks to speed up the internet. Every technician who came out tried different things and I documented each step. I’ve never seen these suggestions anywhere so I wanted to share them with you!

I initially hesitated in sharing this because I’m certainly no “internet expert”. Someone will probably message me saying I’m wrong or used a term incorrectly. Oh well. I’m writing this for other frustrated captives of slow internet service who need free (or cheap) suggestions. Disclaimer: If your internet equipment is old (five-plus years) some of these tricks might not work. You can’t have old technology and expect high speeds. It’s like using an old run-down car and expecting fast racing speeds, or using a straw to fill up a swimming pool. I am currently using this Netgear Modem and the Eero Home Wifi Mesh router system.

Terms

First things first, let’s review some basic terms. These are overly simplified and explained for average “non-techy” people.

  • Modem: The box that delivers internet access from your internet provider company.
  • Router: The box that routes internet service to other mobile devices (giving you WiFi).  (Note: You might have a modem/router 2-in-1 combo. However, many people have two separate boxes.)

Things YOU can do:

  • Update your router’s quality of service (QoS): I hesitate in making this the FIRST step because it’s the most technical, and I don’t want to discourage or overwhelm you. If you have anyone “tech-savvy” in your life — ask them for help. However, if this frustrates or overwhelms you, move on to the next step and don’t stress about it! Updating your QoS  basically means you’re telling your router what devices you want to have priority and distributing internet access to your devices accordingly. For instance, I set my laptop as “high priority” and printer at “low priority”.  This made a HUGE freaking difference immediately. Here are the instructions if you have a Netgear Nighthawk router, Linksys router, TP-Link router, or Asus router. Cost: FREE
  • Replace your ethernet cable: This cable connects your modem to your router. It should be a “CAT6” cable. I don’t want to get super-technical, but this is the fastest cable and will manage speeds better. It doesn’t need to be very long, depending on how close your devices are to each other. I have a short one that’s only $4 on Amazon.  Cost: Under $10
  • Move your router: Ugh. I know, this is a pain. And it might not be possible. But if you can, move your router to the center of the “livable” part of your home.   Brick, stone, and water (or things like a giant aquarium) can majorly hinder your WiFi. The worst for WiFi is ceramic, concrete, metal, and mirrors, which reflect visible light and radio waves alike. Your WiFi will get “stuck” behind these barriers.  Move the components around and you’ll see a big difference. Cost: FREE
  • Turn off “One-Drive”: If you use a Windows platform and aren’t using this system, you need to turn it off. It’s a major drain on your internet service. Here’s a tutorial.   Cost: FREE

Things to ask your service provider

Here’s the deal. You need to be tenacious, firm (but kind) with your internet provider. You also can’t assume the representative on the other end of the phone understands anything. They aren’t trained to problem solve and spend all day reading from scripts.  Typically, their first suggestion is for you to increase your package and pay more.  (Lame)

BEFORE you call, reboot both your modem and router. Then start your conversation with:  “I’ve already restarted my equipment. Please move on to the next step.” This saved me loads of time on the phone.

Request a technician to come to your house and do the following

  1. Check the cable from the street to your house AND the cable from your house to the modem. I had each of these cables replaced at different times. Each time, I tested the internet speed and there was a jump in speed as each one was replaced. Ask the technicians to “test the cable lines for noise”. They should have a machine that checks the integrity of the line. If there’s “noise” the connection will be spotty. My cables were probably 15 years old, so it didn’t matter if I had the fastest internet service or best equipment. The cables delivering the internet access were crappy! If these cables are old, your provider should replace them for you in most cases. The technicians won’t always check and you need to be specific.
  2. Ask the technician to remove any “splitters” from unused cable or phone lines.  If you don’t have a phone line or cable you don’t need these! Again, I saw another bump in speed when these splitters were removed. With these gone, we had a direct line from the street to my modem, and super-fast service!
  3. Check the connections to ALL your cables that go into your modem and into your router.

What I Learned

I wish I’d asked these things of the first technician during the first visit. The steps I just listed above were slowly completed over the course of two months in four different visits.  My current internet speed is outrageously fast and I learned so much.

And here’s the kicker: We finally discovered the cable bringing internet access TO my house (under the street) was failing. This was the most complicated and expensive repair for the provider but they were eventually forced to repair it.  I’m so glad I went through the above process because now my internet access is lightning fast. These small tweaks made a huge difference.

Hopefully these tips can save you loads of time! If you completed these steps, let me know with a comment below.