Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

These common home appliances can dramatically slow down your internet speed

Practical guidelines for improving your internet speeds.

With unprecedented pressure on home internet connections because of work from home changes due to the COVID-19pandemic, UK's communication regulator Ofcom has published a list of practical tips for improving the speed and reliability of your home network.

Some of the tips are pretty obvious, such as testing your internet speeds regularly (I use Speedtest for this, but Ofcom has a decent list of others that provide this service), try wired rather than wireless, password-protecting your Wi-Fi so others can't leech off it, and getting in touch with your service provider if things get bad.

It also has some less useful tips -- unless your browser is awfully old, updating it is not going to make much difference at all. Also, I find that upgrading routers doesn't do that much, unless you're upgrading to some serious enterprise-grade hardware such as Amazon eero, Netgear Orbi, or Ubiquiti Networks UniFi. It's worth bearing in mind that a lot of home internet service providers don't support third-party routers, so if things go wrong, you'll have to switch back to the original hardware (so don't throw it away), or you're on your own.

Must read: Coronavirus social distancing got you down? Tips and tricks to help you get through it

But the list does bring something up that home users might not be aware of that might be slowing things down. And that is that some electrical devices, such as dimmers, can cause interference and affect internet speeds.

Halogen lamps, electrical dimmer switches, stereo or computer speakers, fairy lights, TVs and monitors and AC power cords have all been known to affect routers. Keep your router as far away as possible from other electrical devices as well as those which emit wireless signals such as cordless phones, baby monitors etc. Try to place your router on a table or shelf rather than on the floor and keep it switched on.

I've found that microwave ovens, heaters, cordless phones, and baby monitors are also good sources of interference. You can't banish them from your home just because you work from home now, but you can make sure the router is not right next to them.

Any tips? Let me know below.

See also: