Broadband is a fast, permanent Internet service that can be up to 100 times faster than dial-up. It is usually delivered via your telephone line (such as ADSL), cable, satellite or 3G mobile phone network. There are nearly 40 million people online in the UK, and yet the United Kingdom ranks 33rd in the world for broadband speed—five times slower than South Korea. If you are suffering from slow broadband speed, however, there may be certain things you can do to speed it up, without opting for expensive broadband packages.
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Check the speed of your broadband. There are various sites on the Internet that allow you to test the speed of your broadband Internet if you are using ADSL, cable or mobile broadband. Choose one set up for UK broadband such as Broadband Expert. These sites will test the download and upload speed of your Internet connection. The former is important for downloading music, video and email attachments, while your upload speed measures how quickly information is sent back to the Internet for activities such as gaming. The speed results will reveal if you are suffering from slow broadband.
Upgrade your browser. Downloading Internet pages on older versions of your browser of choice will delay the loading of pages and slow down your Internet speed, particularly if they have pictures. Upgrade your browser to the latest release. Browsers such as Mozilla Firefox or Opera often provide faster downloads so consider switching. All browsers store details of Internet history by default; this stored information can be useful but can also slow down your Internet speed. So too can toolbars and add-ons. Keep your browser light to ensure the fastest speed possible.
Check the security of your wireless Internet. Always use an encryption key like WEP or WPA to secure your wireless Internet. Otherwise, other people can piggyback on your wireless, use your bandwidth and slow it down. Visit the "Network" page of your computer to check the security of your connection.
Install security software such as Norton or McAfee to prevent your computer suffering from malicious programs such as viruses, spyware and malware. Viruses and spyware can slow down the Internet by using bandwidth and damaging Internet browsers, as well as interfering with your computer's operating system.
Check your equipment. Your Internet speed is only as good as your equipment. If there are problems with the Ethernet, modem or router—or you are using old equipment—it can slow down your Internet speed. Identify problems with your wireless by connecting via cable instead; if your Internet speeds up, you may need to upgrade your router. Make sure there are as few things as possible blocking the signal from the router to your computer, such as doors and walls. An Ethernet cable will also be faster than a USB cable. Consider a speed booster to sit between your telephone jack and modem to reduce interference and improve the speed of your connection.
Limit the number of programs that use your Internet bandwidth on startup. You may think you have turned them off, but certain programs such as MSN, Skype, Microsoft and security updates all start running in the background as soon as you switch on your PC. This can slow down your Internet speed and use up your download allowance. Find out which programs are running by going to task manager. Each program will have the option to turn off the automatic start.
Upgrade the speed your Internet or change your Internet service provider, if all else fails. Talk to your ISP about the speed you can expect. Signing up for an 8Mb package, for instance, does not automatically mean you can expect that speed. Under Ofcom's code of practice, the ISPs have a duty to inform you of anything that could interfere or slow down your connection. For instance, the distance from the telephone exchange to your house can impact on the speed delivered.
Tips and warnings
- If you have an old PC, you may need to upgrade the hardware to improve your Internet speed. Your broadband speed will only be as quick as your equipment allows.
- If you upgrade your antivirus software or firewall, don't forget to remove your old software. Multiple versions of the software can slow your computer down. Check this by using the "Add or Remove Programs" section on your computer, or use the disk cleanup facility in the Windows operating system.
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