Is your internet connection slower than you’d like? Do web pages take forever to load or buffer endlessly when streaming video? A sluggish internet connection can make basic tasks frustrating.
The good news is there are many tweaks you can try yourself to optimize your home network and Wi-Fi to speed things up. With a few simple changes, you can enjoy much faster loading speeds, reduced lag when gaming online, and an overall snappier internet experience.
In this ultimate guide, we’ll explain step-by-step how to:
- Update your operating system and hardware drivers
- Change DNS server settings for faster browsing
- Disable power-saving modes that slow down connectivity
- Adjust Wi-Fi adapter settings to strengthen the wireless signal
- Prioritize bandwidth for gaming and streaming
- Reduce background updates that hog internet speeds
- Refresh your network components to apply optimizations
- Find the ideal Wi-Fi channel for reducing congestion
- Relocate your router for better coverage
- Switch between 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands
- Disconnect unused devices from your network
- Extend your network range with boosters and mesh systems
Whether you’re experiencing slowdowns on a wired desktop PC or laptop using Wi-Fi, these tips can help you boost performance. Let’s get started.
Step 1: Update Windows and Drivers
Keeping Windows and hardware drivers updated gives you the latest optimizations, security patches, and bug fixes. This prevents problems that could slow down your internet connection.
For example, flawed network drivers can cause connectivity problems, Wi-Fi issues, and slower speeds. Updating to the latest drivers resolves bugs and improves performance.
To update Windows:
- Go to Settings > Update & Security > Check for Updates
- Install any available updates, including major version upgrades
New Windows versions incorporate under-the-hood networking improvements for faster speeds. But you’ll be able to keep all your personal files and software.
Pro Tip: Restart your PC regularly to allow updates to fully take effect.
Update Network Drivers
To update network drivers:
- Open Device Manager
- Right-click your network adapter > Update driver
- Or visit the manufacturer’s website to download the latest drivers
For example, search “[your network adapter name] drivers” to find the manufacturer’s website. Popular network adapter brands include Realtek, Intel, and Killer.
Installing the latest drivers ensures you have firmware improvements that can fix bugs and improve connectivity.
Step 2: Change DNS Server Settings
Your DNS server converts domain names to IP addresses. Using a faster, customized DNS can reduce latency.
How DNS Works
Your internet provider assigns default DNS servers. But these can be slow, get overloaded, or have poor routing.
Switching to a well-optimized third-party DNS often speeds up lookups. Popular alternate DNS options include:
- Google – 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11
- Cloudflare – 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124
- OpenDNS – 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52
Change DNS Server
Here’s how to change DNS settings:
- Right-click the Wi-Fi or Ethernet icon in the bottom right
- Select Open Network & Internet settings
- Click Change adapter options
- Right-click your network adapter and select Properties
- Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click Properties
- Switch from Obtain DNS server automatically to Use the following DNS server addresses
- Enter preferred and alternate DNS IPs like Google’s 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11
Using fast third-party DNS resolvers often provides a speed boost compared to your ISP’s servers.
Pro Tip: Use a DNS benchmarking tool to test which public servers are the fastest for you.
Step 3: Disable Power Saving Modes
Your network adapter and Wi-Fi radio have power-saving modes to conserve battery life on laptops. But these can negatively impact internet speeds.
Disabling these settings ensures your network adapter stays at full power for maximum speed:
- Right-click your network adapter and select Properties
- Click Configure and go to the Advanced tab
- Disable the following power-saving options:
- Energy Efficient Ethernet
- Green Ethernet
- Power Saving Mode
- Switch to the Power Management tab and disable Allow the computer to turn off this device
Your network devices will now maintain higher bandwidth and Wi-Fi signal strength without automatically down-throttling.
Step 4: Adjust Wi-Fi Adapter Settings
Fine-tuning your Wi-Fi adapter settings can improve signal strength and connectivity.
In adapter properties:
- On Configure tab:
- Set Channel Width to Auto
- Enable Prefer 5GHz band
- Set Roaming Aggressiveness to Low
- On the Advanced tab, disable Channel Intolerant
Setting the channel width to Auto and preferring 5 GHz uses the faster 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequency if available.
Disabling channel intolerant prevents your adapter from avoiding certain channels. Low roaming aggressiveness reduces excessive roaming between access points.
Together these settings optimize your wireless signal for better connectivity.
Step 5: Change Network Throttle Index
Windows includes a network throttling feature that regulates bandwidth usage. Disabling this prevents restriction so you can enjoy full speeds:
- Open Registry Editor (type regedit in Start menu)
- Go to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Psched
- Change the NetworkThrottlingIndex value to “Disable”
Now Windows will not throttle your network bandwidth.
Step 6: Use TCP Optimizer
TCP Optimizer is a free utility that makes it easy to tweak advanced TCP/IP settings to optimize internet throughput.
You can download it here: TCP Optimizer
Some recommended settings include:
- Set connection speed slider to max
- MTU: 1500
- Congestion control: CTCP
- Enable RSS, disable RSC
- TTL: 64
- Disable ECN, LSO, tcp chimney offload
- Disable tcp ack frequency, delayed ack freq, tcp1323 timestamps
TCP Optimizer adjusts technical parameters like MTU size, TTL, and selective acknowledgment settings to reduce latency and packet loss.
The program has many built-in optimization presets. Trying different options can help boost your specific internet performance.
Step 7: Prioritize Network Adapters
You can assign priorities to network adapters to ensure gaming and streaming devices get priority over background tasks.
Giving priority to your main network adapter prevents other lower-priority adapters from consuming bandwidth.
In TCP Optimizer:
- Go to Advanced settings
- Assign priorities:
- Local: 10
- Host: 10
- DNS: 6
- NetBIOS: 7
- Set max SYN retransmits to 2
- Disable NLA, set initial RTO to 2000, min RTO to 300
This prevents low-priority devices like printers from taking bandwidth away from your main internet connection.
Step 8. Limit Bandwidth for Windows Updates
Windows automatically downloads updates in the background which can use large amounts of your internet bandwidth.
You can limit this background usage so Windows Update won’t hog speeds while gaming or streaming video.
- Open Group Policy Editor (type gpedit in Start menu)
- Go to Computer Config > Admin Templates > Network > QoS Packet Scheduler
- Enable Limit reservable bandwidth and set to 0%
Now Windows updates will only use a small fraction of your available bandwidth, preventing update spikes.
Step 9: Flush and Reset Network Components
Resetting your network components clears out any old settings or DNS data and renews your IP address.
This can resolve connectivity issues and ensure optimizations take effect.
In Command Prompt or PowerShell (as admin):
netsh winsock reset
Now your PC will have refreshed network components with the DNS cache cleared and the latest settings applied.
Step 10: Switch to Optimal Wi-Fi Channel
If using Wi-Fi, switching to a clearer channel can hugely boost speeds. Some channels in your area may have lots of congestion and interference.
Finding the optimal channel takes just a few minutes:
- Open Command Prompt and type netsh wlan show networks to see nearby networks and channels
- In router settings, change channel – test each to find the optimal one
In some cases, changing the channel can drastically increase Wi-Fi speeds by reducing congestion. Be sure to explore channels 1, 6, and 11 which are common high-speed options.
Step 11: Relocate Your Router
Where you place your router affects Wi-Fi coverage and signal strength. The best location is central and elevated in your home, near where you use the internet most.
Avoid putting your router:
- In a basement or closet – limits signal spread
- Near metal, tile, stone, or water – blocks/absorbs signals
- Close to appliances like microwaves, baby monitors, etc. – causes interference
If your router is in a poor location, move it to a better spot to improve Wi-Fi range and speed.
Step 12: Switch Between 2.4GHz and 5GHz Bands
Modern routers transmit Wi-Fi on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. Try switching bands to resolve temporary interference issues:
- 2.4GHz provides wider coverage but slower speeds
- 5GHz offers faster speeds but over a shorter range
Switching bands is easy – just reconnect to the other network name that indicates “2.4GHz” or “5GHz” in the SSID. Evaluate speeds on each to determine the optimal band.
Step 13: Disconnect Unused Devices
Too many connected devices congest your network and slow down speeds. Disconnect all nonessential devices to free up bandwidth.
The quickest way is to:
- Change your Wi-Fi password
- Reboot the router
- Reconnect only devices you actively use
This removes lingering unused connections that quietly consume bandwidth in the background.
Step 14: Extend Your Wi-Fi Network
If your router’s centrally located but you still have weak spots, you may need to extend your coverage.
Options to expand the Wi-Fi range include:
- Wi-Fi Extenders – Place between the router and dead zone to amplify signals
- Mesh Wi-Fi Systems – Multiple access points to blanket large homes
- Powerline Adapters – Use electrical wiring to transmit data
- Access Points – Connect to the router via Ethernet to expand coverage
Evaluate your home layout and size to choose the best Wi-Fi expansion option.
Step 15: Upgrade the Internet Plan
If your internet plan’s maximum speed can’t support your household’s bandwidth usage, upgrading to a faster plan is the ultimate solution.
Figure out how much speed you need:
- For streaming HD video, 25 Mbps is recommended per stream
- For online gaming, a minimum of 15 Mbps is ideal
- For web browsing and email, 5 – 10 Mbps is sufficient
Compare your current internet speeds to the maximum your plan offers using a tool like Speedtest. If you’re not getting your advertised maximum speeds, contact your provider to troubleshoot.
Otherwise, research plans from available providers in your area and switch to one that offers sufficient speed.
Step 16: Increase MTU Size
The MTU (Maximum Transmission Unit) is the maximum data packet size your network equipment can transmit without fragmentation. Increasing the MTU allows more data to be packed into each packet, reducing overhead and latency.
To optimize MTU:
- Open Command Prompt and use the ping command to find max MTU before fragmentation
- Add 28 to that value to get the ideal MTU size
- In router settings, manually set MTU to this size if possible
- Or set MTU on each device using netsh interface command
Larger MTU sizes like 1500 improve throughput compared to lower defaults like 1400. Just take care not to exceed your equipment’s max packet size (usually 9000).
You can use these tips to automatically optimize network and wi-fi performance, router settings, and more to boost internet speeds. Be sure to test before and after to verify improvements.
Fixing laggy internet provides a much better experience for work video calls, streaming movies, online gaming, and more. No more waiting for pages to load or constant video buffering.
We covered both simple router tweaks and more advanced technical network optimizations. Try out the steps that make sense for your network and home layout.
Which tips have you found most helpful for speeding up your home internet connection? Let us know in the comments!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How can I test my internet speeds?
Use speed test tools like Speedtest.net or Fast.com to measure your current internet speeds and ping. Testing before and after optimizations helps verify improvements.
Q: How do I optimize my UniFi network?
Check for firmware updates on your UniFi controller and access points. Enable auto-optimization and smart queues in UniFi settings. Tweak Wi-Fi power levels, channels, and DTIM. Consider adding more access points for better coverage.
Q: How much speed do I need?
If you are upto light web browsing, 5 – 10 Mbps download speed is sufficient. For streaming HD video, aim for at least 25 Mbps per device. For online gaming, 15 Mbps or higher is recommended.
Q: How do I know if I need a new router?
If your router is older than 5 years, purchasing a newer model can provide better Wi-Fi range and speeds. Connect your computer directly to the modem and run speed tests to isolate router issues. Check router admin for firmware updates. If speeds are still slow, upgrading the router is recommended.
Q: What’s the best Wi-Fi band to use?
Try both 2.4GHz and 5GHz to see which works better in your home. 5GHz provides faster speeds but a lower range, while 2.4GHz has farther reach but slower speeds.
Q: Where is the best place to put my router?
Centrally located in your home, elevated if possible, and out in the open. Avoid basements, closets, and being surrounded by thick walls, metal, or water.
Q: How can I find my router’s IP address to access settings?
In Windows, open Command Prompt and run “ipconfig” to find your router’s default gateway IP address. Enter this into your browser to open your router’s admin console.
Q: How do I know if I need a faster internet plan?
Compare your internet provider’s advertised speed tier to speed tests during typical usage. If you’re not getting near the speeds you’re paying for, contact your ISP. Upgrading to the next speed tier may be required to support your household bandwidth usage.
Q: My router is rented from my ISP, should I buy my own?
Purchasing your own consumer router allows for more customization and control. If renting, request a modem/router firmware update from your ISP to improve performance.
Q: How do I optimize my TP-Link Router?
Update to the latest TP-Link firmware. Enable hardware acceleration, disable power saving, and change Wi-Fi modes, channels, and bands for optimal performance. Set DNS to faster public servers like Google or Cloudflare. Tweak MTU size. Enable traffic prioritization for gaming/streaming. Replace if over 5 years old.