APR 20, 2024

How to Increase Internet Speed

There’s no one “secret trick” to getting more speed from your internet connection. But these tips can help you maximise its speed, whether you need that for work or play.

There are few things that everyone hates, but I’ve never found anyone who didn’t hate a slow internet experience.

Waiting for an age for something to happen, whether it’s downloading a file, checking your social media or just waiting for a web page to load can be an agonising experience.

Sure, that does speak somewhat to our impatience, but with the Internet at the heart of not only a lot of our leisure time, but also the way we work these days, the speed of your connection and especially how it works with your web browser can have real effects on your work and your finances.

So what can you do to make the Internet run that bit faster? Be wary of anyone telling you that there’s just “one” trick you need to use to speed up your online experiences. That way lies the snake oil salesmen of the Internet.

The reality is that the reasons why your browsing are slow can be complex, and the solutions for one problem might not solve another.

Here’s 5 ways you can try to make your browsing experience a bit more rapid.

1. Change your broadband plan or ISP

This one might feel like it’s obvious, because you might think that I’m just saying “upgrade to a faster broadband plan”.

That’s unlikely to hurt your situation, but it’s not a one-stop shop for absolute faster access on a single computer, smartphone or tablet browser.

If you are on the slowest possible NBN connection and trying to access complex web resources or high definition video you may find a bump up the scales will help, but at the top end of broadband plans, the speeds are plenty good enough for basic web browsing, video streaming or gaming.

However, the complicating factor here if you’re on an NBN connection is that while the network remains the same, the quality of ISP connections does not.

It’s a complex topic unto itself, but at a very simple level ISPs buy a level of access to the NBN from NBN Co. If they buy enough for everyone, it’s all good and you get decent speeds.

However, the profit margins are small, to say the least, so many will skimp on buying capacity, knowing that not everyone is online all the time. Switching ISPs isn’t a golden bullet to solve your broadband speed woes, but it can often be a significant factor.

2. Clear out unwanted browser junk

When you first start using any internet browser, whether you’re on Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari, everything can be pretty sweet and nice and fast.

Over time, however, your web browsing experience can slow down massively, for a couple of quite easily fixable reasons.

First and foremost, if you’re struggling with web speeds and you have multiple browser tabs open, try closing all but the one you’re working on. Those background tabs are still eating up both your PC’s resources and your broadband speed even if you’re not actively looking at them. They’ll still be in your history if you need them again.

Next up, Extensions. These are the little applets that can add features to your browser, whether it’s an easy way to share social news stories, privacy checkers or ad blockers.

Extensions can be super useful if you use them regularly, but again they’re small scale bandwidth and performance hogs. If you’re not using an extension, or if you check your browser’s extensions and find one you don’t remember installing, nuke it, restart your browser and check if your speed improves.

Then there’s your cache and cookies. As you surf around the web, most browsers will store parts of web sites in your cache, ready to more rapidly load the next time you want that particular page if not much has changed in the meantime.

In theory, this is meant to speed up your web browsing. Keeping your cache clean is normally handled by the browser itself, but if you’re experiencing sluggish web performance, clearing the cache can be one way to get it to start thinking cleanly for itself again.

The same is true for cookies. No, not the type that the classic Sesame Street monster adores, but web cookies, used to track you through the web.

Not all tracking and cookies are bad, either. If you find that you’re logged into a store or site as if by magic when you open its web page, that’s a cookie at work, storing your details to make life easier for you.

Again, though, the crumbs that cookies leave behind can gunk up the code underlying your browser, creating performance problems.

Head to your browser’s settings area and you’ll usually find the function to clear both cache and cookies in the same area; for Google Chrome users, for example, it’s in Settings and then Clear Browsing Data.

3. Make sure your browser is up to date (and maybe your computer, too!)

It might seem as though the web browser you use this year does exactly the same job as the web browser you might have used ten or twenty years ago, or even longer depending on how long you’ve been online.

While we still call it “web browsing”, a modern web browser is a more complex array of code than its predecessors, constantly and iteratively updated over time. As such, it’s a really good idea to make sure that your browser is up to date at all times for optimal performance.

Many browsers will pester you about this kind of detail. If you’ve ever seen a little “update” icon at the top right of a Google Chrome screen, that’s the browser telling you to upgrade via restarting the app for best performance. New releases of browsers aren’t just about new features, but also important security and performance upgrades that can make a big difference in your web browsing speeds.

The same is true for general system updates, too. The relationship between how the code of your web browser and your computer’s operating system talk to each other is a complex affair, but if you’re well out of date on your PC’s general software updates, getting them running smoothly can also free up resources that your browser can use to speed up your net connections.

4 .Try a different browser (or reinstall your existing one)

If you’ve got a Windows PC, then it already has a web browser – Microsoft Edge – built in. Mac (and iPhone and iPad) users have Apple’s equivalent, Safari ready to roll.

However, sometimes these browsers don’t so much roll as they do stall. It can be worthwhile examining whether a different browser on the same computer, phone or tablet might run faster. Google’s Chrome is very popular as well, but it too can be a memory hog.

Whatever your browser of choice might be, consider switching to alternative choices such as Mozilla Firefox, Brave, Opera or DuckDuckGo, to name but a few. Many work on similar underlying rendering engines for how they build pages, but efficiency within their code can make a genuine difference in how fast a given page may load.

If you really don’t want to change browsers, consider uninstalling and reinstalling them on the same PC. Sometimes that simple level of cleaning up can work wonders for your web experiences. Just remember to back up your bookmarks before you do so. Some browsers do offer a function to reset all settings to default which somewhat acts the same way, and that might help you out too.

5. Try browsing somewhere else

Frustrated because you can’t get a specific site or web service to load as fast as you might like? Sometimes it can be useful to simply check if it’s your connection that’s being slow, or the specific site or service. At peak times – typically the evenings – Australian internet usage explodes, and that keeps all networks quite busy. However, if you’re finding that one site won’t load well for you, try at a similar time to open up any other site.

No, this won’t speed up your network performance at all.

However, if the site you want is still crawling and the other site loads nice and fast, then the problem basically doesn’t lie with you. That server or site or service – or whatever it is, it’s a big wide wonderful Internet out there – is clearly being hammered with requests and doesn’t have enough bandwidth to handle your request at that time. Where practical, come back to it later and you may find it’s far more responsive.

Need help setting up your home Wi-Fi network or troubleshooting slow internet? Our expert Geeks can assist! You can call us by clicking the phone icon on the top of the page or make a booking online here.

Photo of Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman
A multi-award winning journalist, Alex has written about consumer technology for over 20 years. He has written and edited for virtually every Australian tech publication including Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and more.