How To Get The Most Out Of Your Home Broadband Connection

Is your home internet feeling a little on the slow side? Having trouble diagnosing the issues yourself? Let us help you out: we're here with all the tips and tricks you need to know to get the most out of your home broadband connection for streaming everything from YouTube content through to Apple TV and Netflix.

Let us know what you use to speed up your home internet connection in the comments!

Pick A Decent Router

It should seem fairly obvious at this point, but it bears repeating: if you want good speed and great coverage on your home Wi-Fi network, choose a router that's up to the task. Decide if you want a modem router or just a router, and figure out what is going to work best with your home setup. How many devices are you going to connect over Wi-Fi? How many Ethernet ports do you need? Is a 5GHz network going to be best for a home that carries a significant amount of 2.4GHz interference? Check out our router reviews to find one that's good for you.

Sometimes, it can be worthwhile using the modem router that your ISP provides you — not because it's a stellar piece of hardware, but because it can help you out when you're in the middle of a tech support nightmare. Remember, if everything crashes on your home network, it's good to have the stock hardware around for troubleshooting purposes.


Make Sure You Have Current Firmware

Your modem or modem router should always be treated as a living, breathing piece of tech. It's just as important as your laptop or your smartphone, and like those two it runs on firmware that needs a bit of love every now and then. Updating the firmware on your router is a great way to make sure you're getting the most out of your connection. Firmware updates can fix bugs or other problems with your router, or unlock new capabilities via an updated UI. Instructions on how to update your router can usually be found in the "General" or "Other" tab of your router's UI.

Pro tip: if you can, set up auto-updates on your router so that it flashes the latest firmware onto it for you as soon as it becomes available, so you're always up to date.


Configure Your Home Router Via Ethernet First

Deciphering problems with your network can be an absolute nightmare, which usually involves taking apart your complicated network setup to figure out exactly what's going wrong. Figuring out Wi-Fi problems can be tough, and generates another layer of drama that you have to wade through. You can save yourself a lot of trouble from the outset by setting up your home network via Ethernet first to make sure that it's working, and then adding a Wi-Fi broadcast element to it later.

By tackling one network standard at a time, you'll be able to find and solve problems with your internet connection first, before plugging in your Wi-Fi network and solving any problems that go along with that. It also helps you diagnose issues in the network later to figure out what's going wrong.


Do A Isolation Test

Noticing slower line speeds? Don't blame your ISP just yet: it might be you. Doing an isolation test on your home network can help you figure out if something you've got inside your network is actually futzing with your connection. An isolation test involves unplugging every extra device from your network, doing a speed test, and then gradually plugging everything back in, device by device, and doing speed tests along the way to figure out if one component is hogging more bandwidth than it should.


Use Your Filters

Excessive line noise kills connections, so this one's pretty simple: use your ADSL line filters. A filter blocks out aberrant frequencies from cutting in on your ADSL connectio, giving your modem router the highest possible quality connection to maximise your ADSL speed. You should always use a high quality filter, to make sure the right frequencies and maximum line noise are being blocked out.


Keep Your Neighbours Out

Think that there's someone logging into your network that shouldn't be? Jumping into your modem's Wi-Fi connections page — sometimes called 'client list' or 'DHCP table' lets you view who else is connected to your network. If you notice that there's a device in there you don't recognise, change your wireless access point's password and beef up security a little. What were you doing giving other people access to your network anyways?


Don't Broadcast Your SSID

To keep your network even safer from the prying eyes of everyone on either side of you, it's worth hiding your router's SSID (network name) from the public. That way when devices that aren't on your network already search for SSIDs, they don't find yours by mistake. Having a public SSID and a weak password means that you're suceptible to others boosting your connection and slowing it down.

By hiding your SSID, but remembering the name and password, you can privately connect to it whenever you need to give a new device access to your network. Safe!


Use Router's In-Built Network Monitor

Your router's built-in network monitor is good for more than just seeing what's connected to your network. It's also great for seeing the bandwidth usage of different devices. If one device is using a large amount of data at one time or your modem prioritises particular traffic like video and audio content, it can slow down the network for your other devices. Use your built-in network monitor to track the usage different devices and services consume so you can better manage where your bandwidth goes.


Placement Of Router

In the same way that your mobile phone won't connect to a cell network in a bad coverage area, your home Wi-Fi devices won't connect to their network if you've put the router in a stupid place in your house or apartment.

When placing your router, have a think about where you're going to be using your Wi-Fi the most at home. If you want your tablet to connect to the network while you're on the couch, for example, it's best to make sure there aren't a series of walls in-between the router and your comfy spot. If you must connect your modem/router to the phone line in an awkward spot, think about getting another router to act as a range extender.


Put Your ADSL Modem or Modem Router Near First Phone Port In Your House

When you're deciding where you should place your router, also have a quick think about where you might put your modem at the same time. Those with modem/routers may not have much of a choice when it comes to placing the two separately, but ideally, you'll be placing your modem on the first phone port in your house. By first phone port, we mean the one closest to the street in terms of cabling.

Additional lines that have been wired into your home will likely boost their connection from the first phone point anyway, meaning that the signal has further to travel on lines which may not be as clean as the one that connects directly out to the street. Plus, the first port is also better to be on for maintenence purposes as well: line providers like Telstra and Optus will fix problems on your network right up to the "network boundary", which is where the line lands in your house. If the problem you have is with your second phone line inside the house, that's something you'll have to pay an electrician to fix out of your own pocket.


Figure Out Where Your Content is Coming From

From a networking perspective, this one might be a little harder to figure out, but if you do your research, you can super-charge how content gets to you. Some ISPs cache content like videos and games, which means that they get to you faster because they have to travel a shorter distance over fewer connections. Plus, by getting cached content from your ISP might mean that the content is unmetered.


Manage Your Auto-Updates

Finally, take a look at when your devices are scheduled to update their own software. You don't want to get home at 5pm all ready to smash your network for the night only to realise there's a 10GB update file being pulled down by various devices in your house.


What's your best tip? Tell us in the comments!

Campbell Simpson and Angus Kidman contributed to this report.


Comments

    We are using inSSIDer to check where's the best spot for your wireless network. You can also check what channel other router in the area is using. For WiFi password use WPA instead of WEP since WEP is easily to crack your password. For instance using a kismac app can decode WEP and WPA password. Monitor your usage, if there's unexpected spike on the usage check the devices connected to the router and block the unknown device / MAC address.

    Man I don't think I've updated my router firmware for about two years.

      You've updated yours?

        I had to set up my wifi network again when we moved house and I did it then.

        Which come to think of it was actually four years ago.

    My only option now is to pay telstra to fix the internal phone wiring.

      ... or get a sparky to do it. Might even be cheaper if it's a mate of your with a cabling license.

    although a few good tips, i think whirlpool modem section can help out alot more for better broadband networking, like obtaining a better sync rate with an exchange is as easy as determining how far you live from it, i.e if you live <2km away from the exchange, you can opt for a trendchip(TP-LINK 8817) modem which will cost you around $20 so that you can bridge the modem to a router which has custom firmware(gargoyle) loaded on to it to better manage your home i.e. set family quotas/throttles, set session limits of the torrenters in your house. the guys over @WP are prepared to walk anyone through the entire process, some people have 30,000 posts just from pure free support.

    Well done Luke, You could add a bit about the differences in Wifi, i.e. that a very old Wifi, say 802.11a or g my have a speed limit below the speed of your connection, so it may be time to update your Wifi to 802.11n (very common now) at up to 450Mb/s or 802.11ac (A new standard, common on new Apple gear) at up to 1300Mb/s - speeds depend on the manufacturer.

    There is also great software for identifying the reach of your wifi, use it to find where your silent spots are and change the location of your wifi to improve performance. e.g. I use NetSpot on my Mac

    I'll link this in from our website .

    even if you dont broadcast your ssid from your router, every time your pc/laptop/tablet/phone connects to, it does a broadcast of the name when connecting. a sniffer can pick that up.

      I dont understand why people continue to insist on not broadcasting the SSID. It makes not one iota of difference to network security and in fact may lead some people to have a false sense of security. Just turn on WPA2 and make sure your PSK is reasonably complex so that it can't be guessed / brute forced.

    Firmware updates can fix bugs or other problems with your router, or unlock new capabilities via an updated UI
    Just a word of warning that if you muck this process up, it could hurt a lot more. Also a word of warning that just because its new firmware that (according to the release notes) fixes many bugs or introduces new functionality, it doesnt really mean it will address all of your issues, and on the flip side may introduce new issues. If things are going well, I'd say try and avoid this where possible, especially if you're new to the upgrade process or uncomfortable with technology. I dont remember any firmware update I've done over the years that has actually improved my wifi or ethernet connections.

    If you're interested in even more security for your home network, check out a new product called RouterCheck

    Has anyone used one of those Belkin range extenders Telstra sells? Any good?

    Normally I'd go above and beyond to find the best deal on the best hardware, but it's for the in laws and they live interstate, so if I'm not there and shit goes wrong, Telstra support is definitely a plus.

      I had a couple of dead spots in my house and didn't want to wire up with cat5 in the walls. Got a couple of Netgear Powerline 200 Nano adapters and they work a treat. Nice fast and stable connection. Also allowed me to make my own 'hotspot in a box' by putting an adapter connected to an old wi-if router in a waterproof box in my garden entertainment area.

    Hiding your SSID - totally pointless and just makes things more annoying for legitimate users.

    Anyone who wants in your network can see your SSID. Security through obscurity is not security at all. Can't believe Gizmodo would suggest such silliness.

    My modem/router when set to use 5GHz spectrum use to drop out and reset constantly despite using the latest firmware. Set to 2.4GHz, rock steady as. Downgrading to a previous firmware version not always that easy.

      Might of been your pc, Intel made some rubbish WiFi chips in the last two years, I get constant dropouts on 5ghz with my laptop, but my phones and other devices are fine.

    There should be a part 2:NBN to this article, and at the top of the list: Make sure the NBN techs install the NBN PCD in an appropriate spot OUTSIDE the house, and the NBN router in the place YOU WANT IT inside. Otherwise, you may have no choice where you locate your router. Don't leave it to chance!

    ASUS are better routers !! not sold by retailers like JB hifi dicksmith etc.

    Netgear are good as well that don't need all those setting except for the guys who know what they need from there networks, normal person would want to get everything in 2.4GHz and is happy if it works fine for them.

    The 'reviews' link is broken.

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