Use BT, Virgin Media or Sky? Speed up your broadband for free ahead of UK lockdown

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With England heading back into lockdown on Thursday and most of the population being told to stay at home, now is a good time to make sure your broadband connection is in tip-top condition. Although you can’t physically speed up the internet that’s being beamed into your property there are plenty of ways to make sure every part of your home is getting access to the web at the best possible rate.

Even simple things like moving your router or rebooting your whole system can instantly improve this vital connection that will be even more important over the coming weeks.

All of the main Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as BT, Virgin and Sky have released ways of making sure your internet access is up to scratch and here’s some top tips to make sure you are ready for Thursday’s month-long lockdown.

GET YOUR ROUTER IN THE RIGHT PLACE

Let’s be honest, that flashing black box that sits in the corner of your living room isn’t exactly the most attractive accessory. With an ugly appearance, it can be hugely tempting to stuff your router behind the TV or even pop it inside a cabinet. However, this is a really bad idea that could slow down the speeds you receive around your home.

It’s vital that your router is placed out in the open and away from other electrical devices such as the TV, consoles and even speakers.

BT says it’s best to keep the router out in the open and in a central position which will then help the signal beam throughout each of your rooms. Another top tip is to raise it off of the floor as this can also help the signal travel further from the box and could stop the need for extra boosters.

Sky broadband offers similar advice to BT but also suggests that users try to put their router where they use the internet most.

READ MORE: Sky has opened a new and improved way for TV and broadband customers to upgrade

WHAT’S CONNECTED TO YOUR ROUTER?

Your web connection is a bit like a motorway. The more traffic that is going through it, the slower it can get. As Sky explains, everything you connect to your hub uses bandwidth, and the more you connect the more it can slow you down (especially at peak times).

Even when you aren’t using them, app updates, device backups and your smart home devices can still be using your bandwidth in the background.

If you’re suffering from slow speeds try disconnecting any gadgets that don’t need to be online.

A good thing to note for those working from home is to stop other members of your household from downloading large files, such as games, during the day as this can bring things to a shuddering halt just as you are about to start that video call with your boss.

SWITCH TO WIRES

If you’re worried about looking pin-sharp on the next Zoom call to the office then try ditching the wireless connection and plug your laptop straight into the router instead. Wired connections are usually faster and more stable than Wi-Fi. All you need is an ethernet cable which you can plug directly into the back of your router.

GIVE EVERYTHING A REBOOT

It may sound ridiculously simple but sometimes it’s worth switching off your router for a few minutes. Leaving these devices on for long periods can mean they get clogged up with digital data and a quick reset can help to clear any congestion.

Most Virgin routers have a switch on the rear case which will cut all power and help you reset things. However, before you do anything make sure everyone in your home is offline and not in the middle of downloading anything important. If you get the all-clear then flick the switch and wait at least 30 seconds before turning things back on. It will take a few minutes before all of your gadgets get connected again but it could be worth the wait.

WATCH OUT FOR FISH

Virgin, BT and Sky all warn about the issues of pet fish. It may sound daft but water can seriously disrupt things when trying to get online. If you want the perfect signal then you’ll need to move the router or the fish tank depending on which is easier.

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