How to Speed up a Wired Connection

By Andy Walton

Obtaining the best possible speed from your wired network may require you to do more than merely checking to see that your Ethernet connections are secure. Wired network connections are generally less susceptible to interference and signal attenuation than their wireless equivalents, but their performance can still be hampered by poor network design. In addition, some routers can be tweaked to prioritize certain types of traffic, potentially providing a speed boost to certain applications.

Change Your DNS

Domain Name System servers are an important part of online communication, converting the Web addresses you enter into a browser into usable IP addresses. However, a slow DNS can cause serious performance issues on a network, as clients generally need to contact their local DNS frequently. One way to avoid this is to use a DNS benchmarking tool, such as Namebench or DNS Benchmark. These programs determine the relative speeds of local DNS servers, allowing you to see which would give you the best performance.

Adjust MTU

The Maximum Transmission Unit of a router is the size of the largest data packet that the device can send. In theory, increasing MTU increases the speed of a connection, as using larger data packets means that that connection transmits more data in a given space of time. However, not all devices can handle large data packets, meaning that an increased MTU can cause lost data and disconnection. As such, it is best to increase MTU in small increments, in order to avoid destabilizing your connection too heavily.

Set up QoS

Quality of Service allows users to prioritize certain types of network traffic. For example, you might configure your router to let gaming traffic pass before browser traffic. The effects of QoS are most apparent on busy connections, as they allow you keep time-sensitive traffic, such as Voice over IP calls, flowing -- while letting other traffic wait until quieter moments. However, inadvertently dropping an important application down the priority list could have a negative effect on your connection.

Upgrade Your Cabling

Ethernet cables often look virtually identical, but there are, in fact, several different versions of the standard, each with different specifications and maximum speeds. For example, the older Cat5 standard only supports data transfer at up to 100Mbps, while Cat6 can handle transfers at up to 10Gbps. Using higher-specification cabling can help you to make the most of your network connection, allowing your devices to communicate with each other without being limited by slow cable data rates.