How to speed up your broadband header image

Published: 20th Mar 2015

In this digital age, there is often nothing more irritating than slow and inconsistent broadband. A poor service can stop you from streaming a film, ordering a takeaway, transferring money or even interfere with your job if you work from home.

It can turn an enjoyable activity, such as playing an online game, or a day at the office into a nightmare.

So, if your slow service is driving mad, here a few things you can do to speed up your broadband.

Know your stuff

If you're struggling with snail-paced internet, but your service provider says everything is alright on their end, you may need to read up on what your broadband package actually gives you.

Firstly, you need to understand what your maximum speed actually is, as you may have been drawn in by a promise of speeds "of up to X Mbps" but you might not necessarily get the full whack. The further you are from the exchange, the slower your service will be. You can run a broadband speed test quite easily on your line by just using your postcode.

Next, you need to check what your download allowance is, as your internet may be slow because you've already hit your limit or are nearing it. Many internet service providers (ISPs) reduce the speed of your broadband if you're in danger of exceeding your allowance to avoid extra charges being added to your bill.

Could something be hogging your bandwidth?

If you realise that the sluggishness doesn't have anything to do with your download limit or maximum speed, something could be eating up your bandwidth.

You need to switch on your computer and check to see if any applications are running in the background, as this could be secretly using your internet connection for their own ends. Whenever you've used a programme, make sure you shut it down properly to prevent other things fighting with you for bandwidth.

It's also important to make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and operational, as viruses, trojans and worms can take advantage of your broadband connection, slowing it down significantly. It's also important that you password protect your router, to make sure your neighbours aren't watching Netflix on your dime. If you've got people hitching a free ride on your connection, this will eat up your bandwidth and slow your connectivity down.


How long have you had your router and is it good quality? If the answers to these two questions are 'years' and 'no', your sluggish broadband could be due to the hardware you're using to get online.

If your ISP allows it, you should consider replacing your router or modem if it is cheap, old or both. Investing in better quality could lead to considerable improvements in speed and reliability, particularly if you have a poor telephone line. This could easily be the cause of your problems if you haven't changed your supplier for a long time, as the router you're using may not support any upgrades to the exchange.

Time for a change?

If you've read up on your service, checked you're not sharing your connection with hitchhikers and viruses, made sure your router isn't old and decaying and you're still having to struggle with slow speeds, then it may be time to change to a new supplier.