How to test your internet speed – and best ways to improve it

Working from home can be tough, especially when your internet decides to drop out while you’re in the middle of a meeting… Here’s how to test your broadband speeds

With many people working or studying from home, quick, reliable broadband is more important than ever.

Having an unstable connection that freezes, drops in and out, or is just painfully slow, can make communication difficult and really disrupt the work day.

Luckily there are a few easy ways to test your broadband speeds at home without having to become an IT technician.

And there are also a few tips that might improve your connection, making your day run more smoothly.

Firstly, here’s how you can check your broadband speeds yourself, for free.

How to test your internet speed

There is a range of free tools you can use to check your internet speed:

All these will test both your download speed (the rate at which you get data from the web) and also your upload speed (the speed at which you can send data to the web).

It is suggested to run tests at different times of the day to see when your internet struggles the most.

Peak times, known as “internet rush hour”, are between 7pm and 9pm, this could naturally create a slowness for your internet when there is a high number of people in your area on the same network at the same time.

If you’ve run the tests and you’re struggling with your internet, here are some ways you may be able to improve it:

Change the router’s location

Slow broadband can be a huge problem if you’re working or studying from home


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Wondering why you have slow internet speeds? Find out more by reading our investigation into why the Tories are to blame for Britain’s slow internet speeds.

The closer you are to the router, aka the WiFi, the faster your internet connection will be. WiFi can’t travel through large objects such as thick walls, so a clear path between you and the router is advised.

The Money Saving Expert suggests the best place to put your router:

  • Choose a central location
  • Position it high up with no obstacles around it
  • Don’t hide your router away in a cupboard or drawer
  • Don’t camouflage it with picture frames or ornaments

Keep the router away from other devices

Working close to your router may improve your internet connection



Routers do not like electromagnetic interference so keeping other electrical devices away from it could help.

Ofcom says that halogen lamps, electrical dimmer switches, stereo or computer speakers, fairy lights, TVs and monitors and AC power cords have all been known to interfere with WiFi signal.

Move your router away from other devices then run another speed test to see if it improves.

Make sure you have a strong password

The fewer devices connected, the faster speeds you’ll get


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Make sure that your WiFi is encrypted and password-protected, so that neighbours cannot use your network. The more devices that are connected, the slower speeds you will get.

A strong password should be at least eight characters long, and a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. It shouldn’t include any personal information, such as a pet’s name, or your date of birth.

It’s also worth turning WiFi off on devices that you are not using.

WiFi extenders

Purchasing one of these can help extend your WiFi signal, giving it the extra boost that it needs.

They’re usually used for larger properties but if your internet is struggling to reach certain rooms in your home, this may be a good option.

Only audio conference calls

If you’re in a work meeting and your internet keeps cutting out or freezing your face, switch to just audio.

By doing this it will allow your WiFi to solely work on the audio sound rather than audio and image.

Use an ethernet cable

If you have one, plugging an ethernet cable directly into your laptop or computer will likely give you a more stable internet connection.

TLC for your computer

If you sit near the router, try plugging in an ethernet cable for quicker speeds


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Keeping your device clean, tidy and in working order is key, so give your device a “spring clean” every now and then to check everything is in working order.

You should make sure you’re using the most recent version of your web browser, as this is likely to work faster and also offer better security when you’re online.

You should also check that background apps are not running while you’re not using them, and you should clear your cache. If there are any pending updates, push them through.

Hopefully the above tips will help contribute to your WIFI speed helping you to continue working from home without the worry of an unstable internet connection distracting you.

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