Many people put up with very slow internet speeds and poor network performance. With a little tweaking, you too could have a fast connection that’s reliable and works for you. If you follow all (or at least most) of these steps, you’ll have a network that’s actually up to the task of managing data across any home computers, portable devices (iPhones, iPads etc), and of course, your games console. There’s no excuse!
Sort out your computer
If you’re running Windows, then for antivirus install Microsoft Security Essentials as it’s lean, mean, and doesn’t bother you. Plus it’s free, which helps! It goes without saying that if your computer is very old and/or full with too many programs, then you may need to give it a spring clean or think about making an upgrade if the situation warrants it.
It’s worth mentioning that spyware and malware can significantly slow down your browsing experience, so you should regularly scan for nasties. Yup, it’s obvious, but it needs to be said. Also, whether you’re running Windows or a Mac, always have your firewall turned on.
Your internet service
If you’re in a cable area, then get cable broadband. There’s no excuses. You’ve got a choice between Virgin Media and BT’s up-and-coming ‘Infinity’ service. If you’re not in a cable area, then you’ll have to make do with ADSL. In the future, I suspect that more companies will be able to provide fibre services due to having access to BT’s infrastructure.
If you’ve got multiple computers in your household and everyone’s online at one, then you’re going to notice a drop in speed, particularly with such bandwidth-hungry services like BBC iPlayer. The solution? If you can afford it, up the speed. I run everything off a 10Mbps connection and online gaming runs perfectly. If you want to start downloading or streaming any HD content though, you’ll need at least 20Mbps to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Get the right router
I have spent a lot of money on networking equipment over the years, and it’s not always worked for one reason or another. Do yourself a favour and make an investment in Apple’s AirPort networking equipment. The cost is quite high, but this gear will be a solid foundation for your network for years. I’m not recommending Apple’s AirPort products because I run a Mac. You’d be surprised to know that my use of AirPort products predated any Macs in my home! They just work.
I use an AirPort Extreme to route network traffic and create a wireless signal, and then I extend the wireless signal with an AirPort Express. And much, much more. Like I say, it just works. This is particularly useful if you’re connecting your games console to the network wirelessly, as you’ll get a better connection with an extended signal.
Check DNS settings
Switch from your standard DNS settings to OpenDNS. This will also speed up your network, but also add some impressive features such as URI correction, phishing, and malware protection. Preferably these settings should be changed on your router so that all devices on your network can immediately benefit. I won’t mention any more about this area as OpenDNS and Wikipedia have all the answers!
What’s the point of optimising your network if you’re just going to use a slow, bloated, buggy browser? Firefox used to be top dog when it came to best-of-breed browser, but over time it has become bloated. I used to be a Firefox user myself, but I can tell you that Google Chrome is where it’s at now. It’s blisteringly fast. You owe it to yourself!
Whilst Google Chrome is the sweet spot, Safari comes a close second for speed, and Firefox holds steady in third place due to overall security and reliability. If you need to run Internet Explorer for any reason, then please ensure you’re on version 8 for the time being and then upgrade to version 9 when it’s out, as it’s fast!
I’ve covered a number of areas for speeding up your network. Let me know if you’re going to try any of these tips out! Equally, get in touch if you think what I’ve mentioned is a load of rubbish- and why. But honestly, I’m only trying to help. Anyhow, here’s to a faster future!