After working from home for a few months, many Americans will do anything to make their home networks faster. Internet speeds at home tend to be much slower than you might be accustomed to in the office, which can make working remotely more time consuming and extremely frustrating.
In part, these reductions in speed are caused by a higher load on neighborhood internet services — because everyone is working from home and relying on the same bandwidth, the internet will be a bit slower in your area. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to make your home network a bit faster, not to mention a bunch more secure. Read on for some tips you can follow today to improve your home network in almost every way.
Invest in Better Internet
The simplest way to ensure your internet moves at a faster pace is to contact your internet service provider (ISP) and upgrade to a higher-tier internet plan. All ISPs offer tiers of service, which helps them deliver fast speeds to homes that require it while giving fewer resources to homes that don’t rely on the internet quite as heavily. Because you are working from home, you could benefit from better service, so it might be worthwhile to invest in a better plan if not the best plan available.
Because you need better internet to work from home, you might contact your employer and discuss the possibility of them defraying the cost between your current services and the internet speed you require to perform your job. If your employer refuses, you should track your work-at-home expenses, to include your internet services, and deduct them from your income taxes next year.
Upgrade Your Router
Then again, if you already pay for the best internet plan in your area, it might not be your ISP but your router that is slowing you down. Even just a few years ago, internet speeds were much slower than they are now, and hardware like your router was not built to convey speeds above what was available at the time. As a result, your older router might tap out at a certain speed threshold well below what you need and expect.
If your router is five years old or older, you definitely need to consider upgrading it. While you are at it, you might invest in a Wi-Fi extender, especially if your typical home workspace barely receives any internet bars. As with your internet service, you might ask your employer to contribute to this upgrade, but if they don’t you should be able to deduct them from your taxes.
Update Your Firmware
Whether or not you get a new router, you need to spend some time updating its firmware. Routers, like other hardware, only works thanks to installed applications; this isn’t software, as you might find on computers and smartphones, but firmware, a type of fixed data that allows the device to function. However, like software, firmware needs to be updated from time to time to ensure efficiency and eliminate vulnerabilities.
Updating your router’s firmware is easier than you might expect. If you have a smart router, you might be able to schedule updates for automatic download and installation through an app on your smartphone. For everyone else, updating is a matter of typing the router’s IP address into a web browser, logging in and navigating through the settings to find any available updates. It is a process that should take a few minutes, so you might plan to do it during a work break or after you clock out for the day.
Acquire Antivirus Tools
Finally, your internet might be slow because your home network is under attack. Typically, home networks and devices are not prime targets for cybercrime because individuals have less data and less money than businesses. However, now that so many workers are logging into the office from home — and because home networks tend to be much less defended than business networks — many cybercriminals are pivoting to launch a greater number of attacks on unsuspecting home users.
Having antivirus tools on your devices is good, but having a network antivirus is even better. More robust, network-wide security helps you monitor the traffic on your network for suspicious activity that might be a bad-actor searching for valuable data to steal and abuse. Because protecting your network should be important to your employer — because you are working with trade secrets, sensitive customer info and more — you can (once again) make a request that your employer compensates you for this investment.
Working from home isn’t easy for dozens of reasons, like a relaxed schedule, a bevy of distractions and the low-level stress of the unfolding crisis, but it shouldn’t be hard because of your internet. By making a few small changes to how your internet works, you should find much faster web speeds, making working from home that much less frustrating.