How To Speed Up A Slow Broadband Connection

by , Last Updated: 9 December 2014

A slow broadband connection can be extremely frustrating, especially if you decided on your internet package because of its advertised speed. We share some practical steps you can take to improve the performance of your broadband.

Woman laptop annoyed desk home shouting

After deciding on a broadband provider and signing up for a package, you'll be keen to get surfing straight away.

But if you load up your internet only to find yourself crawling from one page to the next, going online can become more of a chore than a joy.

Luckily there are some simple steps you can take at home to boost your broadband speed and make sure you're getting the most from your connection.

Test your speed

First of all it's a good idea to check what sort of speed you're getting, so that you can use this as a guideline when attempting to improve the performance of your broadband.

You can use a free speed tester which will be able to gauge the pace of your current connection.

Bear in mind that the speed advertised when you first decided on your package is likely to be higher than what you get in reality. Most providers advertise a headline rate of 'up to 20Mb', for example, but like the headline rate on a credit card this shouldn't be taken as a guarantee of what you'll get.

The advertised rate is a maximum, and research by Ofcom shows that many internet connections often don't actually reach those speeds in practice. Some internet connections will be slower than others because of your computer's distance from the nearest telephone exchange, for example.

Talk to your provider

If after testing your speed you're dissatisfied with how fast your connection is, it's worth contacting your broadband provider. They may be able to give you an explanation as to why your speed isn't as efficient as you'd expected and suggest measures that may improve the performance of your broadband.

For example, you may be advised to fit some additional filters to your phone socket to enhance your line's efficiency, which should be sent to you free of charge. Alternatively your provider may be able to adjust frequencies at their end to improve your broadband speed.

Move your router

If you connect to the internet wirelessly, the position of your router will make a considerable difference to your broadband speed. The closer your router is to your phone socket, the better your connection should be. Your router manual will come with lots of tips on making your router as efficient as possible.

If your wireless connection is still below par, try connecting directly to your router with an Ethernet cable to see if this makes a difference.

Close down bandwidth-draining programmes

You may not know it, but there could be a host of programmes ticking away on your computer, draining your broadband speed behind the scenes. Software installed to your computer to stream videos, for example, may run even when you're not using it - slowing down your connection and using up your download allowance too.

You can stop this happening by disabling the 'peer to peer' settings on the software. It's also a good idea to check that there aren't other invisible programmes running in the background by checking your Task Manager (right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager).

In addition you should check that you have the latest anti-virus software installed, as well as anti-adware, to stop speed-sapping viruses gaining access to your computer.

Surf off-peak

Traffic on the internet (the amount of people surfing at any one time) is higher at some times of the day than others. Things tend to get busiest in the evening, particularly Sunday evenings. Going online at these times can mean your connection is slower, as you compete for bandwidth with the other internet users online.

It's worth checking your contention ratio, which is the ratio of the actual bandwidth you have to the maximum amount of users surfing that bandwidth at one time. The higher your contention ratio, the slower your connection may be as there could be more users online at once.

As such, you may be able to enjoy higher speeds if you surf during the day or late at night, as these 'off-peak' times generally see less internet traffic.

Update your internet browser

Switching the browser you use may make a difference to your connection speed. It's possible that you're using an out-of-date browser, in which case it's worth updating to the latest version of Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox - or try switching from one to the other if your current browser isn't up to scratch. Google Chrome, Safari for Apple, and Opera are also worth a try.

Switch providers

Finally, if you've tried everything to improve your broadband speed and still have no success, it may be time to switch to a new provider.

By comparing the different packages and speeds available you should be able to find one that suits you, and enjoy swifter surfing from then on.

However it is worth checking if there is a fee involved in switching if you're in the middle of a fixed term contract. It's also worth noting that switching providers isn't guaranteed to get you a faster a connection.

Usefully, Ofcom's Code of Practice states that all internet users have the right to request for their package to be downgraded to a cheaper alternative if their connection doesn't meet the speed advertised by their provider.

As such if you are enduring extremely low speeds, you should bring this up with your provider and request to be moved to a cheaper package if switching providers is out of the question.


The broadband speed checker was really helpful for me in deciding if my provider is living up to it's promises. This website has some really great saving tips.

by Anonymous, 29 Jul 2010

Naw here is the best and most accurate I have found - broadband speed tester.

by Omendata, 21 Aug 2011

I use as a browser - utterly brilliant and way better then chrome or ie - much faster


by seaspray1998, 21 Nov 2011

Yes i would have to agree i use it too - love the new cloud sync - way ahead of the other browsers.

by Omendata, 19 Apr 2014

as far speeding up your broadband - go to - recommended by computer active.

Gave it to a friend of mine who was in the mountains of new mexico and it took her 2 days to get an email! After she used onspeed she got her emails virtually immediately.

You get a 2 week free trial period then its ?25 charge for the year - but if yr clever then you can find free software that will trick any shareware into thinking that the 2 week free trial hasnt ended yet. lol


by seaspray1998, 21 Nov 2011

Hey even I happen to use as browser. I find it really cool and I also have recommended the same to my friends as well.

by Hansen, 7 May 2012

Also do the following:

> Check if any ip address is always connected and sending or receiving data from an unknown location. This is very often done by spywares to send sensitive data to hackers. you can check this by typing netstat/n at the command prompt in windows pc. Use access-list on router/home hub to block such ip address.

> If you are on a wireless connection, do not use microwave oven, corledd phone or tv while using internet. These can slow down the speed because of EM waves.

> Do not place the wireless router/ home hub near any metal file cabinets/wardrobe. Metal cabinets reflect the signal which slow down the speed.

> Check if the local telephone exchange is more than 2 KM away from you home. The speed will drastically slow down in cases where distance is over 2 KM.

> Configure the router against DOS/DDOS attack.

by WIPRO-BT, 4 Jul 2012

Yes maxthon is a good browser but unfortunately it can suck up memory and not release it when you open multiple tabs then close them - also it doesnt support roboform now as it has lost activex and other goodies but i still use it.

The biggest fix for slow copper broadband is to remove the bell-wire in the telephone socket - you can do it yourself if you are confident with electrics or buy the expensive add-on from BT etc...

by Omendata, 5 Jul 2012

Thanks for your information. I followed your steps then increased my internet broadband connections speed. After i have checked my internet speed from this site

by sherle, 18 Apr 2014
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