If you are not tech savvy but would really like to get your money’s worth, and rightfully so, from your internet service provider, you have come to the right place. At this point, slow internet speed is kind of a universal problem. A lot of us have even made peace with it.
But before you throw your hands up in the air and give up, here are a few final ways to get the speed right up. Some of it may sound complicated right off the bat but stay with us.
Switch Your DNS Server
You can make a lot of small tweaks to your router, modem and Wi-Fi connections to speed up your internet. And we will go through them in a minute. But this is one of the most effective ways of getting faster internet without paying extra.
A DNS or domain name system is like a phone book or a map of the internet. This server has the addresses of all the webpages you frequently visit and many more that you never have. And this is how it works.
Every website has a specific IP address connected to its (domain) name. For example, the public DNS IP address of Google is 184.108.40.206 or 220.127.116.11. The DNS server is used to translate the IP address into the domain name. So when you look for the search engine Google, your DNS server finds its IP address and connects you to it.
When you get an internet connection, your service provider gives you its DNS server. This is convenient but these servers can be bogged down by traffic and inefficient softwares run by the service provider. If the server does not look for the IP address quickly, your device cannot connect to the website quickly.
Luckily, you don’t have to use the DNS server of your provider. There are other options. Apart from speed, you can also choose a new DNS server for privacy reasons. Some of them help you filter and even block inappropriate websites. When you use your service provider’s DNS server, they can track your online activity.
A new server can also help you address such privacy concerns. Quad9, CloudFlare and OpenDNS are some of the popular ones out there and also come with certain in-built security features.
If reading is not for you please watch our How to Get Faster Internet for Free:
How to Switch Your DNS Server?
Once you get a new DNS server, you will need to switch to it from the one given by your service provider. Here’s how you do it.
On a Mac
- Step 1: Start by opening ‘System Preferences’ and select ‘Network’.
- Step 2: Click on the ‘Advanced’ button at the bottom right of the window.
- Step 3: You will then enter a new window which has a DNS tab on top.
- Step 4: Select it and click on the plus sign at the bottom of the screen.
- Step 5: Type in the address of your new DNS server and press ‘Ok’.
For example, if you got Quad9, you must enter 18.104.22.168.
If you are on an office device, remember that you will need administrator privileges to make these changes.
- Step 1: Click on the ‘Start’ menu and enter ‘Network Connections’.
- Step 2: Find ‘Change Adapter Options’. You will enter a page that will show your current network details.
- Step 3: Right-click on ‘Ethernet’ and select ‘Properties’.
- Step 4: You will see a window that displays details of your ‘Ethernet Properties’. Choose ‘Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)’.
- Step 5: Once again, right click on it and click Properties. It will give you a new window with ‘Preferred DNS Server’ and ‘Alternate DNS Server’ options.
If you are using Quad9, you must enter:
- Preferred DNS Server: 22.214.171.124
- Alternate DNS Server: 126.96.36.199
Press ‘Ok’ and you’re good to go.
On an iPhone
- Step 1: Open ‘Settings’ and tap on ‘Wi-Fi’.
- Step 2: Select your Wi-Fi network and go to its settings.
- Step 3: Tap on ‘Configure DNS’ and select ‘Manual’.
- Step 4: Tap on the minus sign and delete the existing server.
- Step 5: If you’re using Quad9, tap on the plus sign and type in 9.9. 9.9.
- Step 6: Tap on ‘Save’ and you’re good to go.
This has a few more steps. Download a DNS server app and install it. The exact process differs for different models and OS versions. But here’s how to do it roughly.
- Step 1: Open the DNS server app and tap on Custom DNS in the dropdown menu.
- Step 2: If you’re using Google DNS, type 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 in the required fields.
- Step 3: Tap start and the job is done.
Those of you who are concerned about your privacy can also use a virtual private network or VPN to hide the details of your DNS server too. One of the things that a VPN hides is your IP address, which is unique to your computer.
All your online activity like searches and social media activity is traced back to you with your IP address. VPN masks your IP and prevents service providers, marketers and hackers from tracking your activity and helps you stay anonymous on the internet.
Other Ways to Increase Internet Speed
As mentioned before, there are other ways to get faster internet by making small tweaks to your existing equipment before you get to switching DNS servers. That starts with following some of these best practices.
While your service provider gives you a certain amount of network speed, it is possible you are not utilizing all of it. Here are a few tips that will help you fix that problem. And once you do that, you can download stuff faster and binge on your favorite movies and TV shows, and listen to music without buffering.
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One Thing at a Time
One of the easiest solutions to improve internet speed is to limit the number of downloads. Now, it’s not a popular choice but when you download multiple heavy files, your overall network speed suffers.
This is because you have a limited amount of bandwidth, which is the total or maximum speed you get from your internet service provider. And all your tasks divide the bandwidth equally. That means each task is getting only a portion of your internet speed and all of them take much longer to finish.
A good example of this is a situation where you are streaming a movie and downloading one at the same time. Both tasks are taking place on the same network, cutting your internet into slices to finish the job at hand. That slows down the overall network speed.
The solution is obviously to do one thing at a time. But that’s not always an option. Try to pair one heavy task with a light one. You can download a movie while listening to music. Or stream a movie while downloading music. You can also limit the use of multiple devices on the same network. Of course, this is not much of a help if multiple people in the house are using the same network.
You must also regularly run a speed test to see the difference. This helps you figure out if there is a time frame when the speed is high and vice versa. It also helps you narrow down the problems of your network irrespective of how many devices are using the network. When you do run a test, make sure you do it a couple of times and get an average because online speed tests are notoriously unreliable.
Limit the Bandwidth Manually
The other way to increase internet speed is to control the amount of bandwidth a particular program uses. Typically, all programs slice up the network equally, right? But you can limit the amount of network some programs use. This is like prioritizing your tasks. And it can be done depending on how soon you want one of them to be done.
There are much software that can help you control the bandwidth and regulate the use of your network. This keeps the network free from other important tasks that are urgent or need a chunk of the bandwidth to perform the tasks they are meant to.
If you are downloading a heavy file and playing a video game, a bandwidth control program can help you. You can choose to slow down the download while you are playing the game if it is not required right away. You can also choose for it to be the other way round if you’re not playing the game only to pass time.
Some programs like uTorrent come with a feature that allows you to do the same. And some, like NetLimiter, are bandwidth controlling programs whose goal is to help you manage your internet speed for various tasks.
Get Rid of Interferences
The best way to get the most out of your internet connection is to be as close to the source as possible. When you are on a wireless network, you can be anywhere in its range and access the network.
But you might have noticed that you get the best speed when you are closest to the router. Interferences like walls and other electronics in the way have the capacity to slow down the speed. This becomes even more evident when you place the router in a basement or a closet.
You can always choose to get another router and make things easy, especially if you live in a big space. But if you don’t want to spend a lot, you can simply move to the same room as the router. This is not always a great solution but it works if you start a download and leave the device near the router while you take a walk or finish some other chores.
You can also go for a wired connection by plugging your laptop or computer with an Ethernet cable.
Give the Router a Break
It is a good idea to reset your router once in a month or so. This gives the device a break and also refreshes your internet connection. It is generally considered a good practice, but if you have major speed problems, you might want to do this on a daily basis before you give your service provider a call.
Every router is connected to a modem (unless you have a modem cum wireless router). If you can access it, reset the modem too. This is said to stimulate the connection from the source, which is your internet service provider.
If it seems like a lot of work to remember this, on top of everything else you need to do, you can get a programmable timer program and connect your router and modem to it. You can set a timer on it to switch the devices on and off while you go about your life. Nighttime is ideal for these tasks so that you can wake up to a fresh connection every morning.
But remember that it is kind of a quick fix and does not actually improve your network speed drastically.
It is not uncommon to see a ton of advertisements on every website you visit. If you don’t mind them, remember that your bandwidth does. Every graphic, from pictures to GIFs to videos, that comes with an ad makes the webpage heavier. All of that takes up space on your network and makes the loading of a website that much longer.
The best way to tackle this menace is to install an ad blocker. It makes the page lighter and is easier to load. As a bonus, the webpage is also cleaner and it is easier for you to focus on what you came for.
There are a ton of plugins that will shut them down and free up some of your bandwidth. Some of them also help you avoid trackers on the websites you visit.
As you can see, there are many ways to increase your internet speed. But there is also a lot you can do to free up the bandwidth on your network and just make the most of your existing connection without paying an extra cent. And isn’t that the dream!
Also highly recommended to give a quick read is: What Does Internet Throttle Mean and How Using a VPN can Help
Lorenzo has been using the internet for as long as he can remember. He was there for the early days of message boards, he watched social media take over, and he’s excited to see what comes next.