Last Update February 28th, 2017
So you want to learn how to increase your download speed?
Recently my area got upgraded to the National Broadband Network and with it my speeds increased quite a lot.
It was interesting seeing how this increased the amount of work we could get through – whether it was sending files, downloading and uploading images to blogs, or just loading new pages to read.
But I was also shocked at how much extra speed I could get through my line by tweaking a few things around my house, computer and the router itself.
In this post I am going to show you a few ways you can increase your download speed. Hopefully something in this article is useful to you.
Disclosure – This post contains some affiliate links. I’ll let you know which ones they are below. If you purchase a product through one of those links I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend services I’ve used and love. If this bothers you feel free not to use the link.
How to test your current internet speed
The first thing you will need to do is test your current internet speed. This will let you know whether or not you are getting a lower rate than you should be. You can do this by going to SpeedTest.net and running a test. Here are my results.
Look at those speeds! Well, sort of…
This is actually a screenshot of the speed I get when I’m tethering my mobile to my laptop. Unfortunately my home WiFi speeds are not as fast as this because, well, because of Australia.
NOTE: If you want to test your speed in MBps then go here and go right click > save target as and observe the download or transfer rate.
What do MBps and Mbps mean and why does it matter?
Okay, so, some boring but important stuff here. People often say megabytes when they mean megaBITS. And visa versa. But there is a big difference.
MBps = megabytes
Mbps = megabits
So, if you refer to my speed test above you will see that I am getting 11.53 Mbps per second. To find out how many megabytes that is you just divide by 8 which equals 1.44 MBps.
Now, 1 MB is equal to 1024 KB (kilobytes) so if you want to know how fast you are going to able to download a song or movie you should refer to the KB or MB per second rate as that is usually what they are measured in.
For example, if you are downloading a 50 MB file at 1 MB per second it will take you just under 50 seconds.
Download faster: How to speed up your internet
Now let’s dive into a few ways that you can improve your internet speed.
Remember, some Internet companies advertise huge speeds as a theoretical “potential” but in reality you will never get near it. Email or call your ISP and ask them what is actually attainable in your area so that you don’t spend heaps of time trying to get a speed that just isn’t possible.
1. Test a different modem/router
The biggest cause of slowed down internet is a bad modem. For ages I was using a Billion modem that I thought was absolutely fantastic. I was having frequent internet drop outs and blaming them on my ISP. Finally I changed to a new NETGEAR N150 modem and speeds went up and the drop outs stopped. The problem? The old Billion modem wasn’t equipped for ADSL2+. Rookie mistake. Make sure your modem is suited to the internet plan that you are on.
Update: I’m now using the default modem provided by the National Broadband Network which is automatically configured to work on that system. Again, you just want to make sure that your router is compatible with your plan.
2. Scan for viruses
The next thing you need to do is make sure that no virus itself is causing you to slow down. Sometimes viruses can live on your computer and suck resources away from what you are doing thus slowing down your speeds. I personally use this one as a daily scanner (aff link) on my PC and have found it to be the most accurate over time without slowing down my computer too much.
3. Check for on-system interference
Sometimes your virus scanner or other programs can interfere with your internet speeds. This is really frustrating but you can figure out by simply switching things off one at a time and then running a speed test again. Please note I won’t be responsible for any viruses or spyware you pick up whilst doing this. You should always have good virus protection.
4. Check your filters
If you have your internet connected to a phone line that also has a telephone on it then you will need to make sure you have good quality filters installed on your line. These are little plugs that you attach to the phone line and they help filter out the disturbances. Here is a photo of one of mine.
Now, these also need to be different for the different types of internet. If you have ADSL2+ or cable make sure you have the appropriate filter.
5. Try getting rid of your cordless phone
Some people disagree with this but I have found that cordless phones slow down or interfere with my internet even with filters. It is worth doing an isolation test by removing your phones and replacing them with different ones (borrow a friend’s) and see whether you get better results.
6. Plug in
Wifi is nice but wireless internet is often a tad slower than if you plug in to your modem. Try getting that chord out of the box and plugging straight into the modem, especially if it is your desktop computer and you don’t need to move it around very often.
7. Check for external interference
I bet most of you have an iPhone, iPad, sound system and at least one other form of electronic device in your modem area. Am I right? Well, if so, then you need to check to see whether these things are causing electromagnetic interference. Try moving speakers out of the way and getting other electronic devices out of your modem space.
8. Check for Foxtel or other types of TV
Old Foxtel boxes can cause interference for your internet, even if you aren’t using them. If your net speed is slower than it should be and you can’t figure out why, it might be an idea to go for a walk around your house and see if you have a Foxtel (cable TV) box that you didn’t know was there. It could be from a past owner. If so, call up and make sure it is disconnected totally.
9. Shorten and replace cables
The length of your cables and their structure can affect speeds. Try replacing old phone cables, sockets and lines and instead use shorter and newer ones. This can often make a big difference.
10. Have you tried turning it off and on again?
The last suggestion is often the most powerful one. Turn off your modem for one minute and turn it on again. It is called power cycling and can often flush out a bunch of problems that affect your speed. If you are really brave you can even reconfigure your modem with a new password as this can often refresh your settings at the end of your ISP and refresh connections.
11. Update firmware and software regularly
Your router/modem actually has it’s own software that you need to update regularly. You can login to your modem by following your brand’s instructions. For example, for a NETGEAR modem you go to http://routerlogin.com where you can update and tweak your settings. You also need to consider updating your computer’s desktop version, operating system, etc. as often the wireless settings become less compatible over time.
12. Find your router/ISP’s best settings
When you login to your modem/router (see point 11) you will see a bunch of settings relating to channels and so on. Sometimes these settings are not on the best option by default and you’ll need to update them based on the types of devices you use, etc. Check out your router and ISP’s website for the best settings.
13. Check the cabling and do a line test
If all of this fails it’s time to contact your Internet Service Provider and modem company and ask them for a line test and investigation. This may mean that a worker from the company will be sent out to your house, and this can cost an additional fee. The man who came to my property found that the wires in my roof were almost totally chewed away and needed replacing.
What have I missed?
Do you know any other ways to increase your internet speed? I would be really interested to hear them. Comments are now closed on this article but you can always catch me on Twitter if you want to suggest something else. If this post has helped you please consider giving it a little share on social media.
Top image © Daniel Villeneuve