Make the most of your broadband overnight

Tuesday, 9 July, 2019

Across the UK, millions of households are struggling with the disappointing speeds served up over their broadband connections.

A blend of legacy infrastructure, copper phone lines and patchy cable networks saw the UK achieve a disappointing 31st place in a league table of national download speeds.

Evenings represent a particularly challenging time. Not only are multiple devices often connected in one household, but this scenario is repeated in homes throughout the UK.

As a result, line speeds often plummet, with some broadband connections unable to stream Netflix to one device, let alone support multiple gaming connections around the home.

However, there are ways to mitigate a lack of peak-time bandwidth from your existing ISP’s broadband connection.

It may not be possible to play Fortnite on-demand, or conduct a Skype chat while you’re at work, but some online activities don’t have to be conducted during internet rush hour.

(In case you were wondering, that’s the time between 7pm and 11pm where every member of a typical family is likely to make the biggest demands on domestic broadband connections.)

These are some of the ways in which activities and functions can be relegated to the nightshift, freeing up bandwidth at peak times for live streaming and gaming…

When the sun goes down

  1. Ensure scheduled software or system updates on electronic devices take place in the small hours, when there’s bandwidth to spare and users won’t be inconvenienced.
  2. Rather than streaming TV programmes on-demand, download them to watch later. Start a series downloading before going to bed, and it’ll be ready to play back the next day.
  3. Download/upload large files overnight. Uploads tend to be slower than downloads, so start periodic document uploads to the cloud or large file transfers before going to bed.
  4. Upgrade streaming media accounts to encompass offline playback. For instance, Spotify Premium supports music downloads, rather than repeatedly streaming the same MP3s.
  5. Prioritise. Consider whether certain online activities could wait til a quieter time, like the weekend. Examples include online grocery shopping and video-calling distant relatives.
  6. Reboot your router. Like any electronic device, routers need occasional restarts. Doing this before bed minimises any inconvenience, and maximises next-day performance.
  7. Set the alarm half an hour early. If there’s something important needing to be done online before work tomorrow, it’ll be quicker to do it at 7am than it would be at 10pm.
  8. Deactivate public data sharing. As an example, Virgin Media broadband hubs act as WiFi hotspots for other VM clients. However, it’s possible to opt out of this default service.
  9. Run antivirus and anti-malware software overnight. If you leave computers or tablets on 24/7, schedule antivirus software updates and scans to take place in the small hours.
  10. Seek out income-generating bandwidth uses. If your ISP allows it, firms will pay to use your spare bandwidth overnight, for resource-intensive tasks like blockchain processing.
Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!