The internet was never intended for today’s plethora of different uses, and hardware hasn’t kept pace with our content consumption demands. As a result, millions of homes across America are struggling with unsatisfactory broadband speeds, leading to frustration and (in some cases) arguments. If three different attempts are made to download data simultaneously through a single connection, there’s no protocol for determining which one receives priority. Variable bit rates represent one of the few solutions for sluggish internet connections, and even these involve a loss of quality.
Because broadband is generally distributed across domestic phone lines, there’s little scope for improving the hardware into our homes. Any broadband company will attempt to deliver the maximum achievable speed your wireline connection can support, so switching provider rarely achieves much. Instead, focus on improving broadband speeds inside your property – these six tips should all have a positive impact:
1. Try repositioning your broadband router.
Signal strength and broadband speeds decline as range increases, especially since materials like metal and concrete actually block wireless signals. Moving your main router to new locations (while maintaining a connection to the nearest phone socket) might reduce interference or frequency disruption from other wireless devices. Ideally, the router should be a few feet off the floor, facing towards a doorway with no objects immediately surrounding it.
2. Upgrade the router.
It’s often assumed the broadband router supplied by a provider is the only one that customers are able to use. In fact, any broadband router will distribute wireless data if it’s plugged into a working phone socket. Third-party routers have external aerials to boost signals, as opposed to the weaker internal aerials in mass-produced generic routers bundled in with broadband accounts. Technical attributes like wired link aggregation and 802.11ac also improve connection speeds.
3. Look for a range extender or signal booster.
Larger properties often have broadband blackspots, where the proprietary router struggles to reach. Some broadband hubs are compatible with mesh extenders, which effectively receive and replicate the main signal to create a wider area of coverage. Wireless boosters do a similar job, while both will optimize WiFi signal strength, helping internet-enabled hardware to get closer to their achievable maximum broadband speed.
4. Hardwire key devices.
WiFi is always going to be slower and less reliable than a hardwired internet connection, for a variety of reasons. Every broadband router has at least two Ethernet ports on it, establishing uninterrupted connections with nearby hardware. If it’s possible to position your router in your main living room, hardwiring it to a TV or games console should deliver the fastest speeds these machines can receive. Powerline adaptors achieve similar results in other parts of the home.
5. Clean hard drives.
Electronic devices run slowly when their hard drives are nearly full, or when CPUs need to process numerous applications. You can’t open up your smartphone and improve its GPU, but deleting rarely-used software and bandwidth-hungry applications often improve performance. Run antivirus scans on desktop computers, upload personal files on tablets to the cloud, and eliminate unused software wherever possible. Even closing browser tabs could help.
6. Check your wiring.
It’s easy to overlook the potential for cables to cause connection problems. Cat6 cables pipe data to Ethernet ports far more quickly than older Cat5 wires. Phone sockets develop periodic faults, as do the microfilters plugged into them. One phone socket could achieve faster speeds than another while reducing the distance between socket and router might also help. New cables are highly affordable, but their effect on broadband speeds may be significant.
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