Hi Lifehacker, I work from home as a webcam model, so I need a very reliable internet connection. I can't have any delay of any sort or I lose customers. My laptop is a bit old — is there anything I can do to ensure the best connection? Thanks, Model Citizen
Webcam picture from Shutterstock
Note to readers: yes, this is a real letter. Note to male readers: no, you can't have her number.
The first step is to run an internet speed test in your browser. A good, user-friendly option is the self-explanatory Ookla Speed Test which performs a scan to determine your connection's download and upload speeds. You can then compare the results to the average speeds quoted by your internet service provider (just keep in mind that the advertised speeds are usually over generous).
If the test results are significantly lower, there could be a problem with your hardware. Reset your modem and router, swap over cables, compare your broadband speed with other computers in the house and adopt a process of elimination to see if there are any kinks in the connection. If you identify the culprit, replace it.
You mentioned that you 'cam' on a laptop, which suggests you may be using a wireless connection. Don't do this. Wi-Fi can degrade your bandwidth in all sorts of ways which may result in frequent dropouts — this is especially noticeable when streaming video. Instead of going wireless, establish a hard-wired connection directly to your router to maximise performance. Depending on your webcam setup, this may require buying an extra-long ethernet cable but the reliability gains will be worth it.
If you're a BitTorrent user, you're upload speeds could be taking a hit due to video files being 'seeded' by other BitTorrent users. The simplest solution is to turn BitTorrent off whenever you're using your webcam. In fact, you should close any programs that assume an internet connection: having multiple apps updating themselves in the background is obviously a bad idea.
Also check if your specific ISP plan uses internet shaping which could explain seemingly random slowdowns. If this is the case, it might be time to start shopping for a new broadband plan.
Your ideal choice would be NBN, since in this context upload speed matters. Of course, this is only feasible if the NBN is being rolled out in your neck of the woods any time soon. You can check the NBN status in your area by paying a visit to NBN Co's rollout map — simply type in your address to see whether services are available or in the process of being built.
Failing that, the fastest option available to you will likely be either ADSL2+ or a cable connection (although the latter can be flakey when it comes to upload speeds). If you're keen to shop around, click here to peruse an exhaustive list of "Unlimited" ADSL2 broadband plans. You could also potentially sign up to a business plan which may offer even faster upload speeds.
You can find some additional tips via our Top 10 Ways To Deal With A Slow Internet Connection post. Good luck!
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