Broadband connections can slow down or stop for numerous reasons - some of which you can remedy and some of which you can’t. If your broadband connection does grind to a halt, there are a few things you can try to get things moving again.
Broadband speeds tend to be slower than advertised. The number of people sharing your connection, distance from the telephone exchange, capped services, your browser settings and viruses/spyware on your computer can commonly slow down speeds.
As a first step to speeding things up, talk to your ISP (internet service provider) to check your line. At the same time, ask about an upgrade to your ‘router’ - the piece of hardware for going online.
Reasons for slow-down and remedies to help:
Your browser settings
If you have just upgraded from dial-up, your computer needs to be set up accordingly. This should be done automatically, but old settings can be left behind and interfere with your broadband connection. In Internet Explorer, open the ‘Tools’ menu and click ‘Internet Options’. Click on the ‘Connections’ tab and make sure ‘Never dial a connection’ is selected. Then click ‘OK’.
Password-protect your connection
If it is not secure, your network is vulnerable to other people nearby ‘piggybacking’ off it – in other words, using your broadband connection for free! Slower connections will result. Set a password to stop this and contact your ISP if you’re unsure of how to do this.
Spyware – programs which infiltrate your computer to illegally collect data – and viruses are notorious for slowing it down. The best solution to this is to activate a firewall to prevent infection and to install anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.
The number of people sharing your connection
Most ISPs supply home broadband at a 50:1 contention ratio – jargon for the number of people sharing the connection. The more people online, the slower the connection. Try checking the contention ratio with your ISP.
If you exceed your downloads on a capped package, your ISP may slow speeds to limit your use. If possible, sign up to an unlimited account and/or a faster service.
Distance from the telephone exchange
A user near the exchange will receive faster speeds than someone in a remote location. It is worth bearing this in mind if you really need a fast connection for personal or business use.
Popular websites with heavy traffic
Sometimes websites cannot handle the volume of traffic using them - and your connection may slow down or even stop as a result. There is little you can do except try to find times when the site is less busy.
The BBC has produced its own simple speed test which might be worth trying.