Home Internet Performance Tips

Home internet connections are like driving on the highway with your car: 
it can can be busy trying to get on the highway (too many things on the internet in your house)
it can very busy once on the highway (high/busy Internet traffic time or an overloaded website)
it can have road closures forcing you to a slower route (internet outages and reroutes happen constantly)
maybe it’s your car that is slow (your PC is overloaded or your hardware is too old)
…all causing slow internet performance at home.

Examples of Home Internet Installations:
Internet Connection —> Internet Router —> WiFi Node
Internet Connection —> Internet Router with WiFi
Internet Connection —> Internet Router —> Home Router with WiFi

No matter which setup you have, the below items may help optimize your internet performance:

Check Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) for performance issues
Many homes are not getting the internet performance which they pay for.  For a number of reasons, but not really getting it.  Check www.speedtest.net (either via the website or app) and test your internet connection.  Check the Speedtest.net results against your internet service invoice.  If the result is a slower speed than your provider statement and not within 15% of the service you are paying for CONTACT YOUR INTERNET PROVIDER.  

Use a Wired Network Connection
As a general rule, a wired network connection (the network cable, sometimes called an Ethernet cable) will give you better performance than a (wireless) home WiFi connection.  If you can plug your PC directly into the Internet router, that will usually provide the best performance.  Most home internet routers have multiple plugs (for a wired connection) in addition to being a router and/or a WiFi node.

Lower your WiFi Load
Your WiFi network is shared with all the wireless devices in your home (phones, TVs, game consoles, etc).  
When using online conferencing, try and minimize other large users of the WiFi:
– Don’t stream movies to your TV or tablet
– Don’t play online games 
– Don’t perform updates to your phones or PCs
Save all these items until after your conference/class ends since they will consume valuable WiFi resources.
If possible, only have 1 person with an on-line conference/class at a time.  
If you are viewing a recorded meeting, view it during “quiet Internet hours” when the internet is less busy (generally before noon).

Better Placement of your (wireless) WiFi Node
If possible, put your WiFi node in the middle of your house.  Keeping it away from walls and making it centrally located will help with WiFi performance.  Do NOT place the WiFi node under a desk, in a closet or in a cabinet as these enclosures (and your walls) decrease WiFi performance.

Move your Laptop closer to the WiFi Node
Wireless network performance generally decreases with distance.  The closer your wireless PC is to the WiFi node, the better your WiFi performance will be.  If your laptop is on the far end of the house from your WiFi node, you are probably not getting the best speed possible.

Lower your PC Load
While using online conferencing (like Zoom), close down all other applications/programs on your computer.  This allows your PC to dedicate its power to your video and network needs.

Perform Your WiFi and PC Software Updates
Most companies are continuously updating their devices to solve performance and other issues.  Make sure you are running the latest software possible on your WiFi Node, Internet Router and your PC.

And if all else fails
There is a point where your hardware might simply be too old to give you good performance. 
Your setup might have been ok 5 years ago, but your new laptop and all the new devices may simply be overwhelming an old WiFi node or Internet router.  Start by contacting your Internet Service Provider to see if you are due for a FREE upgrade.  Most of the time you pay to rent hardware from your internet provider and they are obligated to replace it when needed (or you force the replacement).  

Then look at your own home equipment; if it’s older than 5 years then it is probably worth the cost to upgrade.


Written by Brian Gorgas for the North Hunterdon Education Foundation