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Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Speed Up Your Internet

07/06/2013 13:45 BST | Updated 07/08/2013 10:12 BST

Slow internet - one of the main gripes of the modern, Western world. As internet has become faster we expect consistent and instantaneous access (naturally, since we pay for it) and there's not much which can rile an internet aficionado or, indeed, your average user quite like a slowly loading web page. Fortunately your broadband's sluggishness can be combated with a few simple tweaks which can bring it up to the speed it should be, and crucially the speed you're paying for.

1.Move the router and reset it

If you have flexibility as to where you can place your router try moving it to a more central location. Unsurprisingly, you'll get the best signal the nearer you are and that means a quicker speed. If a number of devices are using the broadband throughout your home then try and place it centrally so that all devices are about the same distance from it. If you're really close you might want to try using an Ethernet cable to really speed up the connection.

Moving the router inevitably means it will be reset, but if you're not moving it, try resetting it anyway. Leave it off for a couple of minutes before switching it back on.

How to do it:

  • Check for an alternative location;
  • Switch off the device;
  • Move it to the new location;
  • Switch it on; give it a couple of minutes to sort itself out

2. Clear temporary internet files

Easy - temporary internet files take up space and are unnecessary so clear them out regularly. Most browsers make this very easy - Chrome and Firefox have a keyboard shortcut, other browsers let you delete cookies, history and empty the cache via internet options.

How to do it:

  • On Chrome and Firefox use the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl+ Shift+ Delete";
  • Select options to clear browsing data, download history, the cache, cookies and site plug-in data, passwords and autofill form data (unless you want websites to still remember these things);
  • On other browsers go via internet options and delete the same data.

3. Get rid of viruses and secure your network

Virus protection and malware protection are essential on every system. Malware, like adware and spyware, which gets into your system and tries to pull out details to send to advertisers, really slows down your broadband. Run regular scans (you can automate them to run every few days or every week) and delete as appropriate. Make sure you're using a quality anti-virus software too.

How to do it:

  • Download a decent anti-virus software;
  • Set up automated scans for every few days or every week.

The majority of us have secure wireless networks, but if your network isn't password protected then anyone in the vicinity who can get signal from your router can sponge off your internet and slow it down. If you don't have your network secured do it now.

How to do it:

  • Access your router settings page by entering "192.168.0.1"; "192.168.2.1" or "192.168.1.1" in the address bar. These are common IP addresses. If they don't work take a look in the router manual or Google an online version. Alternatively, identify your Gateway IP and go from there.
  • You might need a login to access the settings which should be in your manual should you need it.
  • You'll then have access to the settings. Look for a page or tab which says something like Security, Encryption, Wireless Network Wizard or the like where you should be able to set a password.
  • Choose a type of encryption - WEP is the most commonly used.

4. Change your router settings and check what wireless network you are using

Like a mobile, your router comes with default settings which can be tweaked to make it more efficient. Your manual should give you further information as to what little things can be altered to maximise speed. You'll also want to check what wireless network you are using. You can normally find this in your manual or by Googling the router brand and model.

You want an N-router which is the latest standard and offered by most new broadband contracts. They use multiple wireless signals and antennas and support a bandwidth of over 100Mb. B is the older wireless standard which can suffer hugely from interference and G is in the middle of these two.

You should also check (and probably change) the wireless channel your router uses. Your router will select from one of 13 different radio channels and most people don't change their channel from default, so you'll be on the same one as your neighbours which slows down your internet.

How to do it:

  • Login to the router settings through your browser (see number 3 for instructions);
  • Find wireleses options and look for a drop down menu of available channels;
  • Try out some other channels and see how they affect speed (to see your neighbours' channel download Netstumbler)

5. Upgrade your browser, check for background downloads/updates and close unused tabs.

Your internet might be running slow because you're using an old version of your browser or a slow browser. Update to Google Chrome, Firefox Mozilla or similar and you should see an instant speed boost. Often things can slow down because your browser is running a lot of stuff you don't need to run.

  • Downloads might be going on in the background or automatic updates. If you need an immediate speed boost then cancel the updates and downloads.
  • P2P applications drain speed as well. Make sure you change the settings in these applications so that P2P access is not allowed.
  • Closing tabs also makes a difference. A lot of websites now have multimedia adverts and such which will automatically refresh; close these and there will be less stress put on your connection.

If you do all these things you should experience an increase in speed. Keep in mind however, that sometimes the internet is slow because the pages you are visiting are busy, the site itself is slow, the server location is slowing it down or because of other internet activity on your home network. If you're internet is really slow and you're worried you are not getting what you've paid for do a quick speed test to make sure everything is roughly in order .