We’ve got the need. The need for speed.
Since you’ve already cleaned the guest bathroom and alphabetized the spice rack during the coronavirus pandemic, it might be time to get some real work done. But nothing kills productivity faster than slow internet speed.
You and your spouse are trying to stay focused on separate Zoom conference calls for work. One child may be doing their school work and another one is playing games or watching videos. And for a moment, you think you may have some peace.
But with everyone in your house trying to get online all at once (along with everyone else in the world at home trying to get online all at once), the home internet package you once relied on may no longer suit your needs.
Do you know how fast you were going?
First things first, check your home internet plan to see what speeds you should be getting and then check to see what speeds you’re actually getting. Using a network speed test service like one provided by your internet service provider will give you an idea of where your internet speeds are, as opposed to what they’re supposed to be. Another option is Fast.com, a network speed test developed by Netflix.
Either test will tell you your modem’s upload and download speeds. If the stats are way off base with what your company is promising based on your tier, give them a call and ask them to ping your box. The reset should reestablish the connection and ought to boost your speeds. If that doesn’t work, it could simply be time to upgrade to a new modem.
After that, there are a few extra steps you can take to try to improve your slow internet speed.
1. Get smart about smart devices
Lights, thermostats, smart speakers — even refrigerators and washing machines are web-enabled. Some of these features are super helpful for normal, everyday life. But we aren’t in normal, everyday life right now. And the more people in the house, the more devices there are.
So, if it’s not being used every day, unplug it. That’s not to say you can’t use it later, but video game consoles, smart speakers, any wearable devices or toys should come off the house Wi-Fi when not in use. All those things take up bandwidth, which is why the shot of you on your work video conference froze up mid-sneeze.
2. Budget screen time, work in pairs
If you’re butting up against your monthly data cap and the home network is slower than molasses, it’s time to reassess how you use the internet at home. If you all can’t do everything all at once, you and your partner will have to do what you do best: Divide and conquer.
You can catch up on work while your spouse cooks dinner and the kids play video games. Your spouse does work after dinner while you and the kids watch a movie. As long as everyone isn’t overwhelming your home internet all at once, parents should be able to get work done and kids should be able to do their school assignments and stave off boredom with some (hopefully educational) YouTube videos.
And if you need some outside help keeping everyone honest and on schedule, check out some of the features offered by your home internet provider. Many offer a dashboard so you can control internet access to every connected device in your home, including tablets, computers and smart TVs. That could be especially helpful now when you want to limit screen time, the longer the kids are home.
3. Uncut the cord and move your modem
A colleague was recently talking about what it’s been like for him now that he’s now working from home. “The internet is faster at work,” he said. “The Wi-Fi was slow, so I plugged the computer into the internet box.” The internet box…
We think when he said “internet box,” he meant the router. It sounds silly, but if you have a slow internet connection at home, plug your computer straight into the internet box. It might be time to consider revisiting a relic from the past: the lowly ethernet cable. Granted, once we went wireless, we never thought we’d go back. Add one of these to your home office setup and you should notice a difference immediately.
Your other option is to pick up a Wi-Fi extender. A simple $20 model should serve your needs. Simply plug it into the outlet in the hallway (or some other out of the way place and you should be back to blazing speed in no time.
4. Make some calls
If you still have the need for more speed, try calling your home internet provider. Everyone is in the same boat right now and struggling to get online to work and learn and keep sane.
But a lot of permalancers and people who are recently out of work also need to get online. Put in a call to customer service and ask if they can work with you. Ask if they’re running any specials, or if they can work to boost your network speed, but not raise your monthly price.
Don’t let slow internet speed impact your quality time
No one’s going to tell you to spend less time on the internet, especially not now. We store our work, connect with our friends and live our lives online now. But the best thing you can do to maintain your network speed (and your sanity) is by making sure the time you spend online is constructive, productive and conducive to your work and your health.
Manage your time online to complete tasks and finish assignments. Do your shopping. Or get on a Zoom happy hour with some friends. But no more mindless scrolling through Instagram. No more checking Twitter every 10 minutes. And that’s probably a good idea even after we’re allowed to leave our homes again.
The Addison on Long Bayou offers virtual tours!