While we all expect our home broadband to be good enough to handle our entertainment needs, it takes on an extra dimension when we’re working from home. This is when it becomes crucially important to get it right.
Working from home usually requires a stable broadband connection that won’t let you down just when you’re about to send that important document to a colleague or host a video call. A weak connection at a critical moment can cost you lots of time, not to mention the general sense of being less than professional.
How to improve your broadband when working from home
If you’d like to improve your broadband to make it faster and secure while you’re working from home, start by taking a look at these four areas.
1. Is your broadband connection fast enough?
If you’re working from home, the first thing you need to check is how fast your broadband connection currently is. Once you’ve done that, you can work out whether the speeds you’re getting are sufficient for your needs.
Run a broadband speed test using a site like Speedtest.net or Xfinity xFi Speed Test to see how many Mbps you’re receiving. If it’s possible to test the speed on a wired connection, do that alongside testing the wi-fi. If that’s not an option, test the speeds in a few different locations around your home, to see whether that changes the speeds received. Getting a better signal could be as simple as moving closer to the router.
Once you know what broadband speeds you’re getting, you can assess whether they’re adequate by considering what else is going to be happening on the internet connection while you’re working from home. If no one else is using the broadband, entry-level superfast speeds of 30Mbps+ may be sufficient. In homes where someone else is streaming, gaming or working, speeds upwards of 60Mbps+ should be a starting point.
If your broadband struggles with multiple people working online at the same time, it may be time to shop around for a faster deal. Remember, though, broadband companies charge early termination fees, so either wait until your contract is up or be prepared to pay an exit fee.
2. Is anything interfering with your home wi-fi network?
Wi-fi signals can be affected by some everyday objects. Checking to see if something is getting in the way of your wi-fi can be a cheap fix that will stop the signal dropping out on video calls.
Common culprits include stereo and computer speakers, TVs, monitors, fairy lights, halogen lamps and AC power cords. Some of these are indispensable to everyday life, and there’s no need to ditch them entirely. It may just be a case of temporarily moving them to improve the signal while you’re working.
Along with this, it’s good practice to keep broadband routers as far away from anything else that may emit wireless signals, such as baby monitors. Keeping your router raised on a shelf or cupboard rather than on the floor can also improve the signal.
Ofcom’s website has more tips on improving broadband speeds around the home.
3. Do you need a wi-fi booster or adaptor to improve your broadband?
If the wi-fi signal is weak in a particular area of your home, you may be able to improve it with a wi-fi booster or adaptor.
Some broadband companies provide boosting discs to customers as part of wider speed guarantees. These can be useful, but a booster purchased from a third-party may work just as well without the added monthly costs of an extra subscription from your broadband provider.
Boosters can be useful in older houses where the signal struggles to get through thick walls. They may also be able to beam the wi-fi up to an attic or out to a garden office. If you’re considering this option, it’s worth noting that some ISP boosters and guarantees don’t cover external areas of homes if the customer has to go outside to access them.
4. Is your network security up to date?
Anyone working from home needs to be aware of the latest cyber security risks. While these can be an annoyance for all network users, they can cause lasting damage if you’re working from home when something goes wrong.
Here are a few things you should consider when it comes to network security.
- Get anti-virus software and update it when prompted.
- Ensure your computer and router firewalls are turned on.
- Be careful about opening and downloading unknown files.
- Secure all devices on the network.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has plenty of tips to keep everyone safe online. The sections on individuals/families and businesses are both helpful for family homes where broadband is being used for multiple purposes.
Have you come across any clever ways to improve your broadband?