Tips for Optimizing Home Internet Performance


  1. Background
  2. Tips
    • Lower the demands on you connection
    • Test the speed of your connection
    • Check the location of your router/access point
    • Use a wired connection vs wireless
    • Run updates
    • Consider hardware updates


Please note, all internet setups at home are different and UIS cannot provide the same level of support as an on campus experience. Please see the suggestions below to help improve your experience.

If your connection is struggling to keep up, you can look at the following list to improve performance on your connection.

Lower The Demands On Your Connection

Your internet connection is a shared resource and reducing the number of connected devices & applications can help improve performance.

  • Turn off game consoles vs putting them to sleep. Some consoles support downloading updates while in low power mode so they can be consuming bandwidth even though they're not in use.
  • Turn off streaming apps like Pandora, and Netflix.
  • Many printers offer WiFi direct printing where they broadcast their own unique WiFi network. This feature is often on by default and can create unnecessary WiFi interference. If you do not use this feature, turn it off. You can plug the printer into your router and print via your normal WiFi network instead.
  • Operate audio only if possible. While apps like Zoom support both audio and video conferencing, video requires much more data than just voice. If you don't need to be seen, turn off your webcam and that can help.

Test The Speed of Your Connection

Websites that test the speed of your internet connection can be a good first step in verifying that your Internet connection is working and in troubleshooting potential connection issues.

When performing a speed test, be sure to turn off any other devices on the network and close out any other applications on the computer you're running the test from. Competing network traffic (audio/video streams, application downloads, etc.) can cause an inaccurate reading in the test and make the connection look slower than it actually is.

Also, when doing a speed check, test on both a wired connection direct to the modem/router along with a test from wireless and compare the results. This can help verify that there is not an issue with the performance of your wireless network. If you want to check your results, rerun the speed test using a different site to see if the results are consistent.

Results should be compared to the speed listed for your Internet service (usually listed in a X/Y format where X is the download speed and Y is the upload speed, ex. 25/10). Ideally, they should match, but the results may vary depending on internal (performance of your router, WiFi reception, etc.) and external factors (upstream network congestion, provider peering bottlenecks, traffic load on speed test site, etc.). A result reasonably close to the advertised speed of your connection is good, if it's less than 60-75% what your connection is capable of, then further investigation might be warranted. If you think there is an issue with your connection, contact your Internet provider and their support staff can help troubleshoot further.

Here are some common data rates for comparison to see if your connection is fast enough:

  • Audio-only streaming: less than 0.5 Mb/s
  • Zoom meetings: around 1.5 Mb/s
  • SD Video streams: 2-3 Mb/s
  • HD Video streams: 5-8 Mb/s
  • 4K Video streams: 25 Mb/s

Sample Speed Test sites:

Check The Location of The Router/Access Point

Not only do radio waves lose strength as the distance increases, but objects in their path (walls, bookcases, etc.) will also cause signals to degrade. Keeping the router away from obstructions (on a tabletop or shelf vs on the floor) can help provide better signal coverage. Also, some devices like microwave ovens can cause interference on WiFi frequencies so it's advisable to keep your router out of the kitchen. Running speed tests are a good way to troubleshoot coverage problems. You can compare measurements taken right next to the router (strongest signal) against different locations in your living space to see which location provides the best connection.

Use A Wired Connection VS Wireless

For maximum performance, a wired connection will always provide the best speed. WiFi is a shared resource and results will always vary depending on client load, signal strength, and interference. Ethernet patch cables should be rated at least CAT6 for best performance. For devices that do not have a built-in Ethernet port, you can often get an adapter (ex. USB-Ethernet Adapter) to provide a wired port. Please contact the Help Desk if you need assistance in selecting a cable or adapter for your computer or device.

Run updates

In addition to keeping your computer up to date, periodically check for updates for your router/wireless access point. This will keep help your router current with the latest software fixes for security & performance.

Consider Hardware Upgrades

If your connection is struggling to keep up, it might be worth looking at the age and model of your router. If you're still using a Linksys WRT54G from 15 years ago, it might not be able to keep up with increasing traffic demands not to mention lacking the features of newer hardware like support of the 5 GHz band for WiFi. Modern WiFi radios support two different frequencies, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 band supports older legacy devices that do not support 5 GHz and tends to have slightly better range than 5 GHz. It is also more susceptible to interference from nearby WiFi routers due to a small number of non-overlapping channels. The 5GHz frequencies offer higher data rates with less interference since there are a larger number of available channels so neighboring signals can spread out more without overlapping.

Making sense of the "alphabet soup" of WiFi:
Below is a quick guide to the WiFi standards that have come out over the years and the improvements each offers. Please note the speeds listed are maximum possible and real world results will vary. Also, both sides of a connection need to support a certain standard to fully make use of it. For example, if a router only supports 802.11g, a 802.11ax device will only connect at the best mutually supported standard (54 Mb of 802.11g vs the 1000+Mb possible under 802.11ax) since that's all the router will support.

  • 802.11b (1999) - Early WiFi standard, 2.4 GHz band only, 11Mb max speed
  • 802.11a (1999) - Added support for 5 GHz frequencies and 54 Mb speeds
  • 802.11g (2003) - Increased speeds on 2.4 GHz band to support up to 54 Mb (no 5GHz support)
  • 802.11n (2009) - Better optimized and allows for speeds of up to 288-600 Mb
  • 802.11ac (2013) - (aka WiFi 5) Supports faster speeds on 5 GHz than 802.11n
  • 802.11ax (2019) - (aka WiFi 6) Improved optimization allows for possible speeds above 1000 Mb


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Article ID: 134256
Thu 7/8/21 1:43 PM
Mon 11/21/22 8:39 AM