7 Ways to Get Better Internet for Working from Home

Manic Mondays need smooth Wi-Fi.

Along with a comfortable chair, a clean pair of sweatpants, and a caffeinated beverage, the pandemic-era worker needs a reliable internet connection to work from home.

We here at HighSpeedInternet.com have been working from home for over a year ourselves, so we know how important it is to have a smooth connection on busy weekdays. We put together a guide to help you improve your internet so that it’s best calibrated to help—not hinder—your productivity.

Pro tip:

Get the best work-from-home internet in your area with our zip code tool below.

First, run a speed test

Before you do anything else, take a speed test so you can have a baseline for how fast your internet is at home. Think of it like taking a hot rod to the shop: you want to know if you’re getting the internet firepower you’re paying for. It will also help you figure out if network congestion in your area impacts your home internet speeds.

How to do it

To get the most accurate results, close all your tabs and plug your computer into your router with an Ethernet cable (if you can). Take the test multiple times so you can average out your numbers. Try running the test in the morning, afternoon, and at night to see if there are any noticeable fluctuations at different times of day.

You can also try taking a speed test over your Wi-Fi. If your connection is slower over Wi-Fi than over Ethernet, then something on your own network could be slowing your speeds.

Pro tip:

Not sure if your internet speed is fast enough to do what you need it to? Use our How Much Internet Speed Do I Need? Tool to find out. The more people using your Wi-Fi, the faster speeds you’ll want.

Plug your work computer into your router

Routers create your Wi-Fi network, but did you know you can plug your device into your router directly to get a faster speed? Indeed, most routers come with Ethernet ports (also known as LAN ports) that you can plug into with an Ethernet cable. Plugging in your computer or other Ethernet-enabled device reduces the chance of signal interference and streamlines your connection.

How to do it

All you need to connect to your router is an Ethernet cable and a device with an Ethernet port on it—usually a laptop or gaming console. Plug it in, turn off your Wi-Fi, and watch as your connection lights up with wired internet. (We have tips on how to do this in our guide to internet cables.)

Pro tip:

If you run out of LAN ports on your router, you can buy an Ethernet switch to connect more networking devices.

Make sure to buy a switch set to the Gigabit Ethernet standard—like the Linksys SE3008, which transfers data at a rate of up to 1,000 Mbps (the fastest speed for Ethernet standards).

If you still need faster speeds after trying Ethernet, consider checking to see if other internet providers have better options in your area. Run a search with your zip code below.

Keep your kids from hogging your bandwidth

It can be hard to get work done when you have roommates or family members who share the same Wi-Fi as you. It’s especially frustrating when you’re making work calls on Zoom and can’t get a consistent connection. The more people you have on your Wi-Fi, the more bandwidth it will eat up—slowing down speeds for everybody.

But you can manage potential bottlenecks by using Quality of sService (QoS) settings on your router. Also known as QoS, these settings let you put certain tasks or Wi-Fi users at the head of the line on your network. That way you can leave more room for Google Docs or Zoom while limiting the bandwidth for things like gaming and streaming video.

How to do it

Log in to your router to access its admin settings. (If you don’t know how to log in to your router, we’ve got simple instructions.) Go to the menu for wireless settings or advanced network settings and look for the setup for Quality of Service, often labeled “QoS Setup.” From there, you can create custom settings that will prioritize specific websites, apps, and types of traffic as you see fit.

Pro tip:

Even without QoS settings, you can improve your connection for things like Zoom by closing out unnecessary apps and telling your kids to stop streaming (at least for the duration of your Zoom call).

Upgrade your router

Your router is a key piece of equipment, sending Wi-Fi signals to all your devices. So the last thing you want is a router that’s dusty, out-of-date, or colonized by ants. (Believe it or not, the latter is actually a thing.)

You’ll have issues especially if the router is running on old firmware and an out-of-date Wi-Fi standard—that will slow down your speeds and make it harder to accommodate using multiple devices at once.

The solution? Get an upgrade.

How to do it

Make sure your router is up to snuff by confirming whether it meets Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 standards. Wi-Fi 5, also known by the technical name 802.11ac, boosts the router’s throughput and better targets devices in its range. Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is even more advanced, allowing Wi-Fi 6 routers to seamlessly serve an abundance of devices at theoretical max speeds of 9.6 Gbps.

If you don’t have a Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 router, consider buying one. We recommend the ASUS RT-AX86U AX5700 because it can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. But there are plenty of other great routers to choose from too—take a look at our best Wi-Fi routers and best online gaming routers for more recs.

For reference, here’s a list of all the Wi-Fi standards, from newest to oldest:

  • Wi-Fi 6—802.11ax
  • Wi-Fi 5—802.11ac
  • Wi-Fi 4—802.11n
  • Wi-Fi 3—802.11g
  • Wi-Fi 2—802.11b
  • Wi-Fi 1—802.11a

Extend your Wi-Fi range

Your router’s signal can reach only so far, and it can be easily blocked by hallways, doors, furniture, or other impediments. So, your Wi-Fi signal may be strong in some rooms and weak (or even nonexistent) in others. This isn’t always a problem, but it’s mega-annoying if you have Wi-Fi dead spots in places where you like to work.

Thankfully, there are a few ways you can boost the range of your router.

How to do it

First, make sure your router is centrally located in your household. Put it somewhere close to where you usually use the internet—for example, on a shelf in the living room rather than in the basement or a bedroom closet.

If you still aren’t getting a proper Wi-Fi signal, consider investing in a Wi-Fi range extender, a cheap tool to strengthen the signal. For a more long-lasting solution, get a mesh router or long-range router—then you’ll get a strong connection over a range that could extend out to your front yard and backyard.

Pro tip:

The ASUS RT-AC88U packs a lot of power as a standalone router—it’s capable of delivering gigabit speeds over a range of up to 5,000 square feet. The NETGEAR Orbi RBK50 is also great, with a mesh system that’s particularly effective in big homes with multiple stories.

Boost your upload speeds

Most of what people do online entails downloading data—think of checking emails, streaming movies, or downloading updates for a video game. Because of that, internet service providers (ISPs) generally emphasize download speeds more than they do upload speeds, which are usually a lot slower—especially on cable, DSL, and satellite internet.

But working from home requires good upload speeds, since working on Google Docs, uploading files over the cloud, and especially Zoom meetings involve a lot of data uploading. If you’re sharing your Wi-Fi with family and friends—and they’re all working and studying from home too—then getting an internet plan with a faster upload speed will do you good.

How to do it

If it’s available in your area, sign up for a fiber internet plan. Fiber is the only type of internet connection capable of delivering fast upload speeds that equal the fastest download speeds. This makes fiber-optic internet a perfect candidate for things like Zooming, hosting livestreams, and working over the cloud.

If fiber isn’t available where you live, aim for a cable internet plan. Uploads aren’t as fast over cable internet, but springing for a faster cable package will still give you a boost on your upload speeds.

Get a faster internet plan

When you’ve tried everything and your speeds still aren’t fast enough, save on headaches by just switching to a better internet package. It will take more effort, yes, but it will make work go a lot smoother and give your roommates or family members more leeway with their own Wi-Fi needs too.

How to do it

Use our “How Much Speed Do I Need?” Tool to get an idea of how fast your internet should go in an ideal situation. After you finish the quiz, it’ll show you the speed you need along with what plans are available in your area. But if you want to cut to the chase, just enter your zip code in our tool below.

Fiber internet plans give you the fastest speeds, including excellent upload speeds that will come in handy if you’re on Zoom a lot. But there are a lot of fast cable internet plans too, while new services like Verizon 5G Home Internet or T-Mobile Home Internet give you a nice balance of speed and affordability.

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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