This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
The pandemic dramatically changed how we work. Logging in at home and spending more time online became the norm. In turn, fast, reliable Wi-Fi became a necessity rather than a mere luxury. Three years later, our home internet connections are still as important as ever.
In fact, a June survey from McKinsey found that 58% of Americans still have the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week. With important team meetings and presentations happening remotely, the last thing anyone wants to have to deal with is a spotty network and a Wi-Fi signal that isn’t up to snuff.
Fortunately, you’ve got options. Even if you don’t know much about your router’s settings or the best way to change them, there are still some easy steps you can take to ensure your speeds are as fast as possible. Let’s walk through them and see if we can’t speed up things for you. (For better internet, check out our recommendations of the best ISPs, mesh routers and Wi-Fi extenders you can buy.)
1. Run some internet speed tests
If you’re going to make changes to your home network, you’ll want to do so from an informed position. The best way to get there is to run some speed tests to get a good sense of any weak links in your Wi-Fi connection — and there are plenty of free services on the web that’ll help you do just that.
Among your options, the Ookla Speedtest is the most widely used and the one I’d recommend starting with. It features an abundance of worldwide servers, which lets you choose from several nearby options to measure the speed of your connection. And, like most speed tests, it’s also easy to use — just click the big “go” button and wait about a minute.
From there, you’ll get a look at the current upload and download speeds for whatever device you’re running the speed test on, plus the ping, which is a latency measurement of how long it takes data to travel back and forth to whatever server you’re testing with.
Start by focusing on the download and upload speeds. Run a couple of tests at a time in various spots throughout your home where you’ll be working and ballpark the average to get a sense of how your speeds hold up. If you’re seeing speeds in a room that are less than half of