Limit Bandwidth On Your Router

Stop other devices from slowing down your internet

A wireless router

Kittichai Boonpong / EyeEm/ Getty Images 

If you've ever been in a household where a lot of people use the internet, then you know just how frustrating it can be when you run out of bandwidth. Everything slows down.

Thankfully, there are ways you can limit the bandwidth that specific computers and other devices in your house can use. This way, you can reserve bandwidth for important computers and devices.

What It Means to Limit Bandwidth On Your Router

Before you can configure a limit on bandwidth for specific devices in your router, it's important to understand how your router works and what bandwidth is.

  • Router: This is the device that's connected to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) modem. It creates the network in your house and manages all internet traffic.
  • Bandwidth: This is the maximum amount of data you can transmit to or from the internet over a period of time. For example if your home has a 10 gigabit ethernet connection, you can transmit 10,000 Mbps (megabytes per second).

In a typical home network scenario, that bandwidth is split among all devices. However, any single device could potentially use up almost all that bandwidth, leaving all the other devices with every little.

Check Your Router Address

Before you can limit bandwidth on your router, you'll need to know the internet protocol (IP) address of your home router.

  1. On any Windows computer connected to your home network, select the Start menu and type cmd. Select the Command Prompt desktop app.

    Screenshot of opening command prompt in Windows
  2. In the command prompt window, type the command ipconfig /all and press Enter.

    Screenshot of the ipconfig command in Windows
  3. Make a note of the IP address for the Gateway listed in the results. This is the IP address of your network router. Also note the Physical Address (MAC address), and the IPv4 Address (IP Address).

How to Limit Bandwidth on Your Router

Each router has its own menu system, but the general principle remains the same. You can use the internet protocol (IP) address or media access control (MAC) address of each device to control the maximum bandwidth it can use.

In most routers, this is called Quality of Service (QoS). The location of that feature is different depending on router you have.

Limit Bandwidth on a Linksys Router

Linksys routers support Quality of Service.

Use the gateway IP you noted above to log into your home router as administrator. Once you're logged in, follow the steps below to limit bandwidth on that router for specific devices in your network.

  1. From the main login screen, you can access the QoS feature by selecting Applications & Gaming from the top menu.

    Screenshot of Applications & Gaming in Linksys router
  2. In the Applications & Gaming menu, select QoS from the submenu.

    Screenshot of QoS in the Applications & Gaming Linksys menu
  3. In the QoS menu, you'll see a dropdown list under Upstream Bandwidth. Use it to select MAC Address.

    Screenshot of MAC Address in a Linksys router
  4. In the Enter a Name field, type the name of the device you're defining bandwidth for. In the Mac Address field, type the MAC Address you recorded earlier. Make sure the numbers are separated by a colon (:). Finally, set the Priority field to the amount of bandwidth you want to allow for that device. High provides the device the highest priority for overall bandwidth. Low limits the device's overall bandwidth the most.

    Screenshot of setting MAC bandwidth priority in a Linksys router
  5. You'll see the device you've configured in the Summary section. Select Save Settings to finish.

    Screenshot of device bandwidth priority displayed in a Linksys router
  6. Once you've configured all of your devices, you should see a significant improvement in your internet speed on the devices you've configured with a High priority.

The smart approach is to configure all of the devices in your home with varying priorities, depending how they are used.

  • Set your work laptop (where you need the fastest internet connection) to high priority.
  • Set streaming devices like Chromecast or Roku with a high priority.
  • Set children's laptops used mostly for casual online gaming with a normal priority.
  • Set any smart home devices that rarely access the internet with a normal or low priority.

Once you've organized all of the device priorities in this way, you should see a tremendous improvement in your overall internet access quality.

How to Limit Bandwidth on Other Routers

There are many router brands and models on the market, and finding the QoS feature on them will vary from one to another.

The instructions below will help you find the QoS menu on the most popular routers.

Limit Bandwidth on a Netgear Router

First, connect to your Netgear router using the same IP address you've noted in the previous section for your Gateway IP. Once you're connected as administrator, you can limit bandwidth on devices on the network as follows.

  1. From the main menu, select ADVANCED > Setup > QoS setup.

  2. Next, select Setup QoS rule and then select Add Priority Rule. Under the Priority Category menu, select MAC Address.  

  3. Select the radio button in the table and under Priority, select the priority level for that device, from Highest to Low. Click Apply to finish.

Limit Bandwidth on a TP-Link Router

TP-Link routers use more specific bandwidth settings than other routers. Instead of a high to low setting, you define the bandwidth ranges.

  1. Select Bandwidth Control and Rules List on the menu to the left.

  2. Select Add New to create a new rule. Select Single IP address. Make sure Protocol is set to both (TCP and UDP).

  3. Set the Egress Bandwidth min and max to a portion of your overall upload bandwidth provided by your ISP. Set the Ingress Bandwidth min and max to a portion of your overall download bandwidth provided by your ISP.

You can see your total upload and download bandwidth by performing an online speed test with your computer.

Limit Bandwidth on a D-Link Router

D-Link routers also use specific IP rather than MAC address for devices. You get see your computer's IP address using the same ipconfig /all command as earlier in this article.

To limit bandwidth on devices on your network:

  1. From the main menu, select Advanced and then select Traffic Control.

  2. Select Add to add a new client rule. Select Add Rules.

  3. Enter your computer's IP address in the Source IP field, and the bandwidth limit (a portion of your overall bandwidth) in the Up Floor and Down Floor fields. Click Add Rules to finish.