Tips to improve your internet experience
This page provides information on setting up your internet services for the best possible experience.
These tips are for when you’ve checked that there isn’t an actual technical issue with your connection. To check for technical issues, go through the steps in “Troubleshooting your connection”, first.
There may be some changes you can make to improve your internet speed.
Benchmark your speed
Use the benchmarking tools in “Speed test” or “Troubleshooting your internet connection” to know what sort of speeds you should be getting over your internet connection at various times of the day and night.
Every time you make a change using the tips below, re-check your speed. This ensures you know what’s working and what’s not.
How many devices are sharing the network?
A “device” in this context includes anything that uses your internal network and the internet to send or receive content.
Not all devices use the internet. For example, your printer may be wired directly into your router, and has no internet connection itself.
However, that same router is the one that is sending an internet connection to your laptop.
When you use your wireless laptop to print something, it uses the internal network, taking some bandwidth away from sending the internet to your partner’s mobile phone.
You generally won’t notice much difference if you have one or two devices sharing a network.
When you get to many devices, however, it has an impact. And you might be surprised how many devices use your network, and the internet, these days.
- the modem and routers themselves
- printers and scanners
- iPads and other mobile tablets
- mobile phones
- smart watches such as Apple Watch or FitBit Plus
- home security units
- smart TVs
- weather stations
- farm sensors
- smart fridges
- vehicle sensors
- energy sensors
- smart home systems like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or Apple HomeKit
The more devices that are trying to use a single network, the more that network will slow down, as it tries to share a limited resource among everything.
Even if you’re getting ideal internet speeds into your modem, if you’re sharing that between ten devices on the network, six of which also connect to the internet, you will see a reduction in network and internet speeds.
Your router should be able to tell you the names of the devices connected to it. You can also install software on your main computer, which can give you the same information.
How To Geek: How to See Who’s Connected to Your Wi-Fi Network
Turn things off
Turn off, or shut down, devices when you’re not using them.
Turn off Wi-Fi access for devices that don’t need internet access when you’re working on them.
Turn off, pause, or close software and apps when you’re not actively using them.
Give devices the best access to the network
Wireless connections can be interrupted by a range of things. These can include:
- double-brick, stone, or concrete
- metal on or in the wall
- water (for example, fishtanks)
- other wireless systems such as cordless phones, baby monitors, garage door openers, infra-red remotes, or using Bluetooth to connect accessories such as headphones, microphones, keyboards, or mice.
- kitchen appliances, such as the microwave or fridge.
- older, damaged, or badly-shielded power sources – this can include external power lines.
- multiple different wireless networks (turning on your phone’s hotspot to run your laptop over mobile broadband instead of the internet connection on the router).
- anything using radio networks.
You can improve access in a range of ways.
- Try to connect using physical ethernet cables wherever possible.
- Keep router software updated.
- Consider upgrading to a higher-powered router.
- Move your router to a central place, away from other electrical equipment and cables in the wall.
- Put the router as high as you can.
- If your router has movable antennae, shift them around to see what works best for your setup.
- Switch Wi-Fi frequencies. There are two: 2.4Ghz (broader range, more reliable around interference, but slower and 5Ghz (narrower range, has more problems with interference, very fast).
- Check your cabling. Test with different cables. Throw out any cables with obvious damage or wear.
- Consider using Wi-Fi extenders.
Old devices, or out-of-date hardware and software in a device, can slow down a connection. Like a vintage car trying to drive 110km/hr using unleaded petrol, it may work for a while, but eventually things break down and may stop working entirely.
In most cases, upgrading the software that runs the particular device will keep it going for many years. Check with the supplier of your device on how to keep it upgraded and updated.
This particularly applies for your router. It may simply not cope with modern connections if it’s a few years old.
Upgrade software and apps
The same applies to the software and apps you use to do different things on the internet. This includes mail programs, web browsers, social media apps on mobile devices, even your photo management software that can upload a photo to your photo sharing site.
They all tend to perform at their peak if they’re running a fairly recent version of the software.
Check the supplier’s website for the most recent versions. You may sometimes need to pay to upgrade; this can be a constant balance between the ongoing cost, and the need to keep up-to-date.
In general, running a couple of versions behind won’t cause too many issues, but very old versions may eventually just stop working on your device.
Other technical checks
- Run virus, malware, and spyware software to ensure nothing bad is happening on your computer or device.
- VPNs can often slow down a connection a lot. Ensure you test with and without one.
- Check you haven’t reached your data cap – your metered data – and have been slowed.
Get your wiring checked
The wiring in the home can also cause poor performing broadband and voice services. If you need phone and internet wiring in your home or office, you should contact a registered cabler. They can help you with services including installing, repairing and maintaining sockets, security systems and data cabling. They can work on existing and new buildings.
For more information
- Choice Australia: How to fix Wi-Fi black spots around your home
- Choice Australia: 5 tips to improve home internet speed
- nbn: Tips to optimise your home internet set-up
- ACCC: Factors that may affect your broadband quality
- The Conversation: How to boost your internet speed when everyone is working from home