Speed Up Your Internet Access

Test your internet connection speed and improve performance

How to improve your internet connection
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Fast and reliable internet access can make all the difference between a good and a bad web experience. If you have mission-critical work to do from home, fast internet access is even more important. Get the most from your internet service at home with these tips.

Test Your Internet Access Speed

The first step is to test your internet connection download and upload speeds at a site like Speedtest.net or DSLReports.com to see if you're getting the rated connection speed from your ISP. You can also test your current mobile or home broadband speed at the FCC Broadband.gov website and do your part to help the FCC establish a national broadband plan. The FCC also has iPhone and Android apps to test smartphone data speeds.

The DLSReports Speed Test Statistics reveals the fastest download speeds for various US providers, so you can compare. You won't likely get these top speeds all the time, but your connection speed should be at least in the ballpark of the speeds you're paying for in your plan.

Change Your DNS Settings

The speed with which you access websites and online services is determined in large part by the DNS servers settings on your computer or network router. DNS servers translate domain names (for example, lifewire.com) into the IP addresses of the web servers where the websites are hosted, but some DNS servers may be closer to you or faster and more accurate than the ones you're using now.

When you sign up for internet service, your ISP's DNS servers are set by default in the router or your computer, but you can change the settings to a faster, more reliable, and more up-to-date DNS server. Both Google and OpenDNS have free public DNS services that can increase your web browsing speeds and offer features like improved security.

Contact Your ISP If You Have Slower-Than-Expected Speeds

Although internet speeds vary depending on various other factors (whether you're on a slower wireless rather than wired connection to the modem, or if there's a lot of traffic congestion on the service), consistently getting much slower speeds than what your plan is rated for may signify a problem on your ISP's end.

After testing your internet speeds with a wired connection to your router (to eliminate any issues due to wireless interference), call your internet service provider or visit their website's help section to find out how to get the speed you are paying for. Some ISPs have their own speed tests and automatic internet boosting programs you can run to optimize your connection speeds.

Tweak Your DSL or Cable Settings

You may also be able to increase your broadband speed by adjusting your network device settings or using web accelerators. The DSL Reports resource also offers a free tweak test that can help optimize your connection speed by suggesting settings to modify based on a download test.

Speed tweaks can cause system instability and may only provide small speed increases that may not make the effort worth it if your current online connection speeds are acceptable.

What's an acceptable speed? That's a relative matter. Most full-time mobile workers should at least be able to load web pages and send emails without attachments almost instantly. An ideal speed is South Korea's blazing 33.5 Mbps versus the world's average 7.6 Mbps download speed.