9 Ways to Speed Up Your Internet in Less Than 10 Minutes

The COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind to our internet speeds. Everyone’s on the internet more than ever before, which puts a lot more strain on your own home Wi-Fi network.

Thankfully there are quite a few ways to give your internet speed a boost. We put together a list of some time-tested methods—ranging from simple fixes that will up your Mbps to DIY methods that will expand your signal range. Take a look and see what works best for you.

Pro tip:

If you’re really sick of your internet plan entirely, use our zip code check tool below to see what other internet options you can get in your area.

Power cycle your router

Your router is the central piece of equipment in your home Wi-Fi arsenal. It picks up the internet connection from your modem and routes it to all of your devices, providing wired and Wi-Fi access to your laptop, tablet, phone, and Bluetooth robot dog (or other smart-home devices if you have them). Of course, your router can sometimes get backed up by overuse. But often all it takes is a simple power cycle to get your Wi-Fi flowing again.

How to do it

Unplug it, wait a minute or so, then plug it back in. This gives the router a chance to resstart its system and clear out any bugs—like a power nap. Still having slow speeds? Take a look at our Wi-Fi troubleshooting guide to see if the problem lies elsewhere.

Plug your computer directly into your router

What makes a router so important is that it can give you a wireless internet signal—but you can also plug your device directly into the router’s Ethernet port. A direct link often gives you a faster connection because it’s going directly to the source rather than relying on a wireless signal, which might hit interference.

How to do it

You’ll need a device that has an Ethernet port—so, basically, your computer or gaming system, since most phones don’t have Ethernet. And of course you’ll need an Ethernet cable long enough to connect your device to your router. (You can identify an Ethernet cable by the box-shaped connector at the ends, which look like larger-sized phone jacks.) Once you’re plugged in, switch off the Wi-Fi and let the Ethernet connection deliver the internet juice.

Turn on an ad-blocker for your browser

We’re bombarded with ads all day long as we surf the internet. They’re not always disruptive—but some banners, pop-ups, and other ads are known to eat away at your internet speed and monthly data cap. Using ad-blocking software can help divert your precious bandwidth to where it’s needed most.

How to do it

There are all sorts of ad-blocking programs out there, including ones that are actually malware and not good for your computer at all. We recommend Adblock Plus because it’s free and gets good reviews. You can also use a VPN: most of the VPNs we recommend have their own ad-blocking extensions.

Move your router to a better location

Your router works by sending out wireless internet signals to all your devices, so it needs to be roughly in the center of your home for it to work best. If you’ve got it tucked away in a closet or hidden in the basement, you’re probably getting a weak signal or even have dead spots throughout the house. Unplug it and move it to a new spot and you may see an improvement.

How to do it

Your router doesn’t need to be the centerpiece on your mantel to work properly, but it helps if it’s out of the way of obstructions like doors, furniture, and electronic kitchen appliances like the microwave (which operates over the same frequency). Aim to put it somewhere relatively high up and equidistant from all the main areas where you spend your time using Wi-Fi. You can read more about how a router works in our explainer on routers and internet speeds.

Switch to the 5 GHz radio band

Most modern routers nowadays work on two frequency bands—2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz band has a long range, but it can get congested easily since a lot of home appliances and tools also operate over the same frequency channel. Switching to the 5 GHz band will give you a faster connection because it’s not used as much and has a higher capacity for carrying data.

How to do it

Log in to your router through the app or browser and adjust the wireless settings to choose whether you’d rather connect to the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band by default. Most routers offer both as options, so you can select which one to connect to when you open the Wi-Fi menu on your device.

Change your Wi-Fi password

It’s always a good idea to use WPA2 encryption to keep your home internet secure—otherwise anyone within range of your Wi-Fi can hop on and use it. And even if all an unwelcome user wants to do is scroll through TikTok or stream Netflix, too many folks can bog down your bandwidth. Luckily it’s easy to set up security on your router since most routers already come with default password protection.

How to do it

To log onto your network, a user needs to know your SSID (the name of your network) and Wi-Fi password (also known as a “WPA key,” “security key” or “passphrase”). To change them, access your router’s wireless setup through your browser or your router’s app. The SSID should be relatively nondescript—don’t use your name, address, or other identifying info. The password should have a nice mix of letters, symbols, and numbers. Take a look at our rundown of how to change your Wi-Fi password for more details.

“Prioritize” devices on your Wi-Fi network

The more people you have on your Wi-Fi, the more stress it will put on your internet speed. You won’t have to worry about this so much if you have an incredibly fast internet plan, but you’ll definitely notice the difference when multiple people are using your Wi-Fi on a slower internet plan. To make sure you don’t experience a massive slowdown at the worst moment, you can set up your router to prioritize certain devices with the router’s Quality of Service settings.

How to do it

First off, figure out your internet speed so you know how much you can work with. We have a speed test tool that will give you a quick rundown. Then, log into your router’s admin settings and look up the section for Quality of Service (often labeled as “QoS”).

Routers all have different settings and controls for QoS—in some cases you’ll be able to set the bandwidth thresholds for certain devices (like your work computer), while in other cases you can set maximum speed allotments for activities like streaming. Look up your router’s user manual to see how the QoS settings work and decide what you want to prioritize.

Buy an up-to-date router

It doesn’t take long for a router to get out-of-date—even a router that’s just a few years old may not be able to hit the latest max Wi-Fi speeds. So if you have an older router and you’ve tried everything to no avail, it might be time for you to invest in some new equipment to get the real internet speed boost you’re looking for.

How to do it

To get the fastest speeds possible, you want a router that’s certified to use with the wireless standards known as Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). Look on the packaging as you’re shopping around. Also you can specifically pick a router that’s designed for long ranges or a router for streaming and gaming. We personally love the Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream because it’s super fast but also relatively affordable.

Upgrade your internet plan

It will cost you some money, but you can usually give your internet speed a massive boost by ordering a better internet plan. Depending on what’s available in your area, you may be able to simply call up your provider and ask for faster speeds. Or you can cancel your plan and switch to a new provider, ideally one that gives you 100 Mbps speeds or faster. You can also benefit from internet service over a more reliable type of connection, like fiber.

How to do it

Use our zip check tool below to get a breakdown of the Wi-Fi options in your area. Once you have an idea of which providers have service, what types of speeds you can get, and how much you can expect to pay on other plans, you can call up your internet provider to see if you can negotiate for a better deal. You can also shop around for deals with our Best Internet Deals page and switch to a new provider entirely.

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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