Four Ways to Speed Up Your Internet Connection

Is your Internet speed slowing to a crawl? It may not be a problem with your Internet service provider. There are many things that could be going on in your home network that are using all of your bandwidth. Here are a few things to check before your call your ISP.

1. Turn Off Any Nonessential Devices

Today nearly everything in the home is connected to the Internet: smart televisions, cellphones, tablets, and computers. A device may be downloading something that you aren't even aware of—for instance, your e-Reader tablet could be downloading a system update or an audio book that's slowing down your system. Before you determine whether you have a problem with your Internet connection, you should turn off all your extra devices.

2. Reboot Your Router

Just like a computer, a router can potentially get bogged down and fail to process new requests. Rebooting your router is usually the first thing that your ISP will direct you to do when you have complaints, so it's easier to do it first. You can reboot your router by turning it off and unplugging it for at least a minute. Plug it back in, turn it on, and then test your connection.

3. Flush Your DNS Settings

Sometimes your computer may have some outdated settings. When its settings are outdated, it has to work a little harder to connect to each website—and you'll see websites potentially timing out or failing to connect. You can reset these DNS (domain name server) settings by opening your command prompt and typing "ipconfig /flushdns." This will tell your computer that you want to get the current settings rather than relying on the old ones.

4. Scan Your Computer for Viruses

Your slow Internet speed could potentially be a symptom of something far more insidious—a computer virus. Computer viruses can slow down your Internet speed by transmitting data on their own. Not only is this inconvenient, but it could be seriously compromising your privacy and identity. There are also programs known as "adware" that might not be directly harming your computer but that could be downloading materials and advertisements over the Internet to display to you.

If you still seem to have a slow Internet connection, consider contacting your provider and asking them to test your line. They should be able to either direct you to a speed test tool on your end or determine whether there might be any problems with connectivity on theirs. Most Internet speed problems are intermittent issues that are caused by system load, so simply waiting a few hours may help.