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.