It can feel like there’s nothing worse than the internet dropping out when you’re using it. Especially during the lockdown, many of us have found it more important than ever in keeping us connected, working and playing with others. It’s our route(r) to the outside world.  

Broadband Genie have shared their guide for getting the most from your broadband.  

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1) Give your Wi-Fi signal strength a boost 

If you connect to your broadband using Wi-Fi, there are apps such as SpeedCheck or websites on desktop you can use to measure it’s strength. If the app says your signal is weak, here are some things you can try to give it a boost: 

  • If possible, move the router. A central location in your home is best, away from walls and appliances. 
  • In the router settings, change the Wi-Fi channel. Sometimes if neighbours are using channels close to yours it can cause interference.  
  • A Wi-Fi signal booster can improve signal strength in parts of your home where it is weaker. 

 2) What’s happening on your network? 

Slow internet at certain times of the day? Want to know who is doing what on your network? Check to see who among your housemates or family members is monopolising your bandwidth. 

  1. Log into your router using your secure login. 
  2. Look for ‘Traffic’ or ‘Network’ or ‘Connected devices’ on the system menu. 
  3. Check to see what devices are connected and who is using the most bandwidth. 

 3) The night shift – use non-peak times 

Most routers have a network map feature that tells you which devices are connected, and may even show how much broadband each is using. You can use this to make sure everyone gets their fair share of internet. For example, if someone is downloading a game or movie during peak times, ask them to download overnight instead. 

4) Give your computer a spring clean 

Sometimes, what looks like slow broadband is actually the result of your computer or devices not running at their best.  

Empty the recycle bin or trash can, and clear out unused applications, paying particular attention to uninstall and remove any unused software which starts when you power up the device and runs in the background.  

If you’re running short on storage space, use a drive space visualiser application (such as WinDirStat for Windows, or DiskUsage for Android) to see what files and folders are taking up the most space. 

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5) Ensure your network is secure 

Network security is paramount. If you’re not sure if yours is secure, logging on to your router and following these simple steps can secure it in less than a minute. Instructions for accessing your router settings can be found in the manual, printed on the router itself, or you can ask your broadband provider. 

  • Change the default router login and password to prevent unauthorised access. 
  • Change the Wi-Fi password. 
  • Change the default Wi-Fi network name (also known as an SSID, we’ve already bagsied ‘Pretty Fly for a WiFi’).  
  • Follow these key tips to make your home router more secure.  

6) Firm up your firmware 

Firmware is your router's operating system and keeping it up to date is vital for security. Manufacturers will deploy updates to patch security holes and provide new features. If you have to manually check for updates (as not all routers will alert the user automatically), we’ve found a how-to guide

If you want get savvy about staying secure online, have a read of Broadband Genie’s in-depth guide to online safety.  

7) Need for speed - are you getting the broadband speed you’re paying for? 

If you have your home network handled but are still experiencing slow internet, it may be your provider. Check your broadband contract to see what speed you should be getting, then use a broadband speed test to check how it’s performing. While you’re probably not going to get exactly the same speed, it should be very close. 

8) The test of time 

For accurate results, run several broadband speed tests over the course of a day for several days, and make sure that no other devices or software are using the internet at the time. You should also try to connect to the router with a network cable, or if that’s not possible sit very close to it so the Wi-Fi signal is strong. 

 If your speed doesn’t seem to be up to scratch, your first step should be to contact your broadband provider. If it’s a technical issue, they may be able to fix it. If not, you might be able to save money by moving to a cheaper broadband package. 

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9) See if you can save money on broadband 

It can be a hassle to switch providers regularly, but those who do can save a lot of money from special offers for new customers. Switching and saving can be easy: 

  • Check your current contract to see if you are still within the fixed term part or have completed it. If you leave early, you’ll have to pay a fee. 
  • Use a postcode search to check what broadband deals are available in your area. 
  • Check key features such as contract length, speed, data allowances, and terms and conditions against your current provider.  
  • Look out for special offers such as reward cards or cashback to save even more. 
  • Sign up to your new provider and switch. Often, the new provider will handle it all for you, and you’ll receive your new router in just a few days. 

10) Research ethical broadband providers 

If you’re already living the wifi high-life, have you considered switching to an ethical broadband provider? The Ethical Consumer website has a league table of ethical broadband providers which looks at factors such as tax, environmental concerns, and executive compensation. While you need to subscribe to see the full report, you can get an overview of the results and find some recommendations to look into yourself.  

Broadband up to speed but your inbox is still overloaded? Try these 5 tips to declutter your digital life, and save some money too.