If you’re like most Americans, you rely on your home internet connection for information, entertainment, work, and play. The vast majority of your home hours are, in some way, dependent on the internet working correctly, so when your signal is weak or inconsistent, or if you aren’t seeing the speeds you should be seeing, it’s natural to get frustrated.
Many of these issues fall on your choice of provider; not all providers offer the same service at the same level in all areas. However, there are some strategies you can use to improve your home internet—without changing your plan or provider.
Invest in a Better Router
If the internet itself is working, but you’re still having a spotty connection, the problem likely lies with your router. Some routers are inherently better than others, capable of sending a stronger signal, further, and more reliably throughout your house. There are a few ways to troubleshoot problems with your existing router, but if those don’t work, your best bet is to invest in a new one altogether. You can get a good router for around $100, and you’ll thank yourself for making the investment.
Place Your Router Optimally
You could also be seeing issues if your router isn’t placed ideally in your house. If you have your router sitting in one far corner of the house, but you’re trying to watch Netflix or work in the opposite corner, you won’t see the same connection level as someone in the same room as the device. The best place for a router is the exact center of your house, to provide even coverage to all your rooms. Ideally, this would also be the room where you carry out most of your internet-related activities.
Wireless internet relies on radio waves to send and receive information, just like radios and TVs. Though not a typical problem, if you’re running too many applications that occupy the same spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, they could interfere with one another and cause delays or interruptions. You can reduce this problem by eliminating as much interference as possible.
Manage Your Bandwidth
A more common issue is related to bandwidth. The more data you have going to your devices, and the more devices you’re using simultaneously, the greater the load will be on your internet and router. There’s a hard upper limit to how much your service package is able to support, so every user you add is an increased chance of your system becoming overloaded. You can manage this bandwidth by avoiding having multiple users streaming or downloading large files at the same time (i.e., streaming video simultaneously).
Install Better Firmware
If you feel like getting technical or spending time on a DIY project, you could install better, customized firmware onto your existing router. This allows you to tap into your router’s operating capacity, and improve transparency so you have a better understanding of what’s going on. With the right firmware, you’ll be able to boost your router’s signal, you can monitor how much traffic is affecting your internet speed and where it’s coming from, and you can even install your own VPN service.
Though it might seem innocuous, rebooting your router is actually an important regular occurrence. Rebooting gives your system a chance to rest and reset to its default mode of operation. It may correct any technical glitches or interruptions in your service immediately, and if it doesn’t, it may enable the router to run more smoothly (at least until the next technical glitch). There’s a reason rebooting the router is the first recommended step to take whenever you call technical support.
Invest in a Mobile Hotspot
There’s no perfect solution for internet outages and unpredictable fluctuations in your service. No matter what you do, you’ll probably still experience unsatisfactory internet coverage and speeds at times. For these instances, it’s a good idea to invest in a mobile hotspot, which can provide reliable internet, even when your home source is acting buggy; this is especially important if you rely on internet for work or other important responsibilities.
Today’s internet speeds are blazing, and our internet infrastructure is astoundingly reliable—at least compared to how it was 20 years ago—but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Thankfully, with these tricks, you can mitigate some of the everyday internet issues you’re almost certain to face and grant yourself better, steadier internet.