If you’re reading this, your internet is probably slow. Slow internet speeds affect all PC users at one point in time or another. Besides, no one has ever requested a slower internet.
While the exact purpose of any particular network issue is best determined on a case by case bases, there are certain, largely unknown, tweaks you can perform in Windows to relieve unnecessary data usage.
Internet Speeds: A Brief Overview
What do we mean when we say users are experiencing a slow internet connection? Well, it’s a little more than slowly loading pages.
Internet connection speeds often refer to the data packets distributed via your internet connection to your PC, which are then interpreted by your web browser as a website. There are three general parameters which can lead to a slow internet connection:
- Economic Connections — When it comes to internet speeds, you get what you pay for. Cheap internet providers will typically give users an inferior connection than more expensive ones. Take it from me: you don’t want to spend hours of your time refining your connection just to find the connection is inherently slow.
- Data Sappers — Ever check the programs running on your PC? Few users do, but these open programs can lead to serious connection impairments. That includes both default and third-party software: you may be downloading a large Windows update without noticing.
- Connection Type — Have you had the same router for years? Are you playing Overwatch via a Wi-Fi connection? Are you the seventh person on your connection? All of these factors can lead to a weaker data connection.
While the following tips will assist in maximizing your data connection, you will immediately benefit by ensuring the following: your PC is connected via an Ethernet cable to your modem, your LAN drivers are up to date, and both your modem and connection allow for decent upload and download speeds.
What Condition My Connection Is In
Before you refine your internet connection, check the status of your current connection. Speedtest is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, speed test online. Head to Speedtest, run the application, and gauge your internet connection.
The three parameters to look for are Ping, Download, and Upload speeds.
- Ping — The response time (or latency) required for your connection to fulfill a request or communicate with a server. The higher your ping, the longer it takes to transfer data.
- Download / Upload Speeds — The rate at which data transfers from one PC to another via your internet connection. While your download and upload speeds work in tandem with your ping, they’re not the same. If internet connections were a river, ping would be the length the water travels while download/upload speeds would be the flow of water.
A high ping and low download/upload speeds will lead to a hectic and unsure internet connection. The following will show you how to lower your ping and decrease data issues you may be experiencing to take the extra weight off your existing data package.
Now, let’s start refining your connection.
1. Turn Off Network Applications
Network applications, in a limited sense, are any desktop programs which use up network data. In order to free up your internet connection for data-intensive programs, you’ll have to shut down any program that gets in the way. While this may seem obvious, certain processes and programs may bog up your internet connection without you noticing.
To check which programs are using data, right-click on your Taskbar and select Task Manager. Within the Task Manager window, click on the category labeled Network. This will order the list of running applications by data consumption.
Close any application that doesn’t pertain to the main program in use. To do this, right-click on the program and select End task.
2. Change Your Wi-Fi Channel
Do you know what Wi-Fi channel you’re on? Most don’t. While Wi-Fi channels are somewhat complex to explain — since they pertain to the technical details of frequency ranges — it suffices to say any particular Wi-Fi connection will have 11 channels a piece (13 in areas outside the U.S.). If multiple users are connected to a single Wi-Fi channel, it may bog down everone on that channel. Connecting to a less-crowded Wi-Fi channel will allow for a faster connection than otherwise.
Before we begin, you’ll have to download a program which analyzes Wi-Fi channels. Head to your Windows Store and download WiFi Analyzer, a fantastic piece of software that allows users to gauge the health of their Wi-Fi. Open the program and select the Analyze tab.
This graph gauges Wi-Fi strength in your area. The Wi-Fi indicator shows your particular connection. To check the condition of your channels, click on the Up arrow on the bottom of the window. This will open your channel analysis, which grades connection strength with an easy-to-understand star rating.
I’m already on the recommended channel connection. In order to change yours, head to your internet provider’s default IP address (typically labeled the Default Gateway). To check your own, open your command prompt. You can do this via your Start Menu by typing in cmd and clicking on the Command Prompt option. Type ipconfig into your command prompt and hit Enter on your keyboard. Your particular address will appear under your Wi-Fi adapter’s entry.
If you’re prompted for a login address, try entering admin for both your username and password. Once you’ve reached your internet settings, head to your wireless settings (the location of these settings depends on your network provider).
You should see an option which will allow you to choose your wireless channel. While these channels may seem the same, not all are created equal. Change to a stronger channel, exit your browser, and restart your computer (just to be sure).
3. Limit Windows Updates
Not too long ago, Windows went a little crazy with their push to Windows 10. While little love was lost on behalf of Windows users, the pesky upgrade underbelly of Windows 10 still manages to surface sometimes.
By default, Windows 10 updates will occur in the background. They will also seed updates, a process wherein your update files are uploaded via your online connection to other PCs. This slowly saps data, limiting your available data to game, stream, or browse. To limit, head to your Settings by opening your Start Menu and typing in update. Then, click on the Check for updates option.
Head to Update & security and click on the Advanced options in your Windows Update window. Under Choose how updates are installed, select Notify to schedule restart. Ensure Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows is unchecked.
Then click on Choose how updates are delivered. Turn the option shown in this window Off.
That’s it! It seems like a hassle, but this one time fix will prevent this and other default data issues on Windows from disrupting your connection.
4. Change DNS Servers
Users get nervous when numbers pop up regarding internet connection. DNS, however, is fairly simple to understand.
A DNS, or Domain Name System, processes and translates IP addresses into domain names. The caliber of this process depends on how well-equipped one DNS server — which processes DNS requests — is relative to another. By default, your DNS server is automatically selected. You can, however, change your DNS server to one which is closer, faster, and more secure.
One of the more trusted, public DNS servers is Google’s free DNS server. Google even provides an official page explaining what DNS protocol is and how to configure it. While it isn’t the only free DNS server out there, the name is trusted and recognizable enough to try out without issue.
Modify Your Own DNS
To change your DNS server, type network into your Start Menu and select Network and Sharing Center. Click on your main connection beside the Connections parameter, then Properties, and locate the parameter labeled Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) or similar.
Click on this parameter and select Properties via the Ethernet Properties window. You should now be able to see options for both IP addresses and DNS servers. Click on the Use the following DNS server addresses radio button, and input the following:
- Preferred DNS server: 22.214.171.124
- Alternate DNS Server: 126.96.36.199
Finally, click OK. That’s it! You are now using Google’s own, public DNS. If you ever run into problems (which may occur for a few programs) simply click on the Obtain DNS server address automatically radio button to return to default.
Up, Up, and Away
When it comes to internet speeds, most will tell you the same thing: buy a better modem, a more premium data package, and connect your PC directly to your modem using an Ethernet cable.
While these factors will immediately improve your connection, they are by no means the only methods of speeding up your internet. In this highly connected world, it’s best to leave no data wasted.
We’ve also discussed what to do if your computer slows down when connected to the internet, which is a separate problem.
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