Suffering from a slow internet connection? It’s an extremely frustrating problem, leading everyone to wonder how to speed up their internet performance at some point.
We’re here to help. Let’s look at some general Windows tips to improve your internet connection and get you browsing in style again.
First: Test Your Connection Speed
To start, head to Speedtest.net to measure your connection speed and quality. Simply click the Go button and give the app a minute to run.
You’ll see three stats related to your internet connection:
- Ping, also called latency, is the number of milliseconds it takes for you to receive a response after sending a request to a server. The lower this number, the better your connection to that server. This is especially important in online video games, as a high ping results in lag.
- Download speed, measured in megabits per second (Mbps), is how fast your computer can grab data from remote servers. The higher your download speed, the quicker you’ll be able to download files, stream video, and similar.
- Upload speed, also measured in Mbps, is how fast your computer can send data to other devices on the internet. The faster this speed, the quicker you can perform tasks like uploading files to a website. This number is usually less than download speed since most online activity revolves around downloads.
Taking these together, we often use the term bandwidth to describe the amount of information you can transfer over the internet in a set amount of time.
Think of bandwidth like a water pipe leading into your house. If one person wants to take a shower, they’ll have a pleasant experience. But with six people using the water at the same time in different places, the pressure drops for everyone.
Network bandwidth works in the same way. One device downloading large files is no problem. But when you have six devices on your network all trying to stream HD video, play online games, and similar at once, they can only each use a portion of the total bandwidth.
Now, let’s review some tweaks you can make to improve your internet speed.
1. Close Network-Heavy Apps
As discussed, if one program is heavily using the network, other apps will suffer. Because of this, when you experience slow speeds, you should check to see what apps are using your network connection and close them if necessary.
To do this, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager and click More details to expand the window, if needed. Next, on the Processes tab, click the Network header to sort running apps by their network usage.
If anything is using an excessive amount of bandwidth, you should close it to free up resources for other apps. This is especially important if you want to perform a network-intensive activity, like playing games online or streaming video.
Some common network culprits include:
- Cloud storage services like Dropbox syncing many files
- Torrenting software
- Files downloading in your browser
- Streaming video, especially in 4K or HD
2. Review Other Devices on Your Network
If you still experience a slow network connection after closing apps, the problem may lie with another device on your network. Maybe someone else is streaming Netflix on their tablet, downloading files on their computer, or playing games on their console.
In those cases, you should check with other people in your home. Hopefully, you can tweak their systems with the tips mentioned here, or work out a way to better share the bandwidth.
You may need to upgrade to a better connection plan with your provider if you want to have multiple devices all online doing network-intensive activities at once. It’s also wise to check for common culprits that slow down your Wi-Fi network.
3. Change Your Wi-Fi Channel
Your wireless router broadcasts using a specific channel. Because of the large number of devices that use Wi-Fi, and the number of networks in crowded areas like apartment complexes, certain channels can run into interference.
If you only experience slow internet speeds when on Wi-Fi, making changes to the channel might improve your issue. See our complete guide to changing your router’s Wi-Fi channel for instructions.
4. Adjust Windows Update’s Delivery Options
Windows Update in Windows 10 includes a peer-to-peer sharing feature. This allows computers to share pieces of updates they download to other machines. While it’s a nice idea in theory, it can also result in wasted bandwidth.
To adjust this option, head to Settings > Update & Security > Delivery Optimization. Here, you can choose to disable the update sharing feature entirely by disabling the Allow downloads from other PCs slider.
If you like, you can instead enable it and select the PCs on my local network option. This prevents your system from sharing updates to random computers on the internet, while still sharing with other computers on your network. For homes with multiple Windows 10 systems, this could reduce the overall bandwidth usage for updates.
To further adjust the bandwidth Windows 10 uses, click the Advanced options link. This provides you with checkboxes and sliders to limit how much bandwidth Windows uses when downloading updates in the background or foreground. You can also limit how much bandwidth the update sharing feature uses for uploads.
5. Limit Bandwidth Usage for Apps
Restricting Windows Update is great, so you might consider doing the same for other apps. Some, like backup and cloud storage apps, let you restrict bandwidth usage in their settings.
For example, with Dropbox, you can right-click its icon in your System Tray, then click your profile icon and choose Preferences. In the resulting window, select the Bandwidth tab and you can limit the Download rate and Upload rate.
What if you want to limit the bandwidth usage of an app that doesn’t have this option built-in? We’ve covered apps that let you limit the internet bandwidth programs use.
To get an idea of which apps use the most bandwidth on your PC, head to Settings > Network & Internet > Data usage. At the top, click your connection and you’ll see a breakdown of usage by app. This gives you an idea of which ones you might need to limit.
6. Change Your DNS Server
If nothing above has worked, you might consider adjusting the DNS servers your computer (or entire network) uses. DNS, or Domain Name System, is a system that translates human-readable website names (like makeuseof.com) into computer-readable IP addresses (like 126.96.36.199).
When your computer has to make a DNS request, it goes through a server equipped for this purpose. It likely uses your ISP’s DNS server by default, but you can often speed up your browsing by using another DNS server.
To do this, type Control Panel into the Start menu to open that utility. Change the View by field in the top-right to Large icons or Small icons, then choose Network and Sharing Center. Next to the Connections text, click the link with the name of your connection.
In the resulting window, click the Properties button at the bottom. In the list that appears, double-click on Internet Protocol Version 4. Then, at the bottom, select the Use the following DNS server addresses button.
Here you’ll need to enter the addresses of the server you want to use. To start, give Google’s public DNS a try. Enter the following addresses to use it:
- Preferred DNS server: 188.8.131.52
- Alternate DNS server: 184.108.40.206
Click OK once done, and you’ve successfully switched your DNS server. Whether this makes a major difference will depend on your location and ISP.
7. Try Further Internet Troubleshooting
We’ve gone over some useful Windows tweaks to improve your network speed. But you might require further testing if you’re still suffering from slow speeds.
As you’ve seen, a lot of these issues are related to Wi-Fi. If it’s at all possible for you to wire your computer to your router with an Ethernet cable, doing so will improve your internet performance considerably.
Now You Know How to Fix Internet Speed
We’ve looked at several Windows adjustments that can improve your internet connection. Hopefully, they bring your current speed to an acceptable level.
It’s important to note, however, that tweaks like these can only go so far. Your connection speed won’t ever exceed what you pay your ISP for. If you live in a remote area and thus use a slow connection type like DSL, or have a cheap internet plan, you may need to look into another provider or upgrade your plan to improve your speeds.
In other cases, your entire computer might slow down when connected to the internet. Here’s what to do when that happens: