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Deck the halls with loads of great ideas to keep your internet in fine form this Christmas


By Virgin TV Edit

Having all the family under one roof again for this very special Christmas can mean more strain on the family broadband than usual. Whether your kids are playing online games upstairs, your granny keeps uploading TikToks to her growing channel or you want to stream some other telly while the soaps are on, staying online has never been more important.

 

To make sure you don’t miss a moment this Yuletide, check out our top tips for maintaining an unwavering broadband connection during the holidays.

 


Whether you’re going for a real tree this year or a pretend one, we bet there’s going to be twinkling lights all over it. But did you know that fairy lights can actually obscure your router’s wireless signals? Yep, if your router ends up stuffed behind the tree, you’ll likely see a reduction in your WiFi speeds, warns watchdog Ofcom. 

 

To make sure you get your usual service, position your router somewhere it has a bit of room to breathe. Large electrical devices like TVs are common culprits for disruption, as well as large bodies of water like a home aquarium, microwave ovens or even the boiler. 

 


Are you going to be travelling for Christmas this year? Whether you’ll be heading home on the train or on a plane, it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on your favourite series or a festive flick to get you into the seasonal spirit.

 

Why not download something to keep you entertained while you’re on the go, with the Virgin TV Go app? Full House and Maxit customers can use the app to download selected shows to watch offline, at no extra cost. To download the app:

 

  1. Head on over to the Google Play Store or App Store and search for Virgin TV Go
  2. Tap install to get the ap on your phone or tablet

 

With the Virgin TV Go app, you can take your favourite shows with you, by downloading them straight onto your phone or tablet. To do that:

 

  1. Find the show or film you want to download in the Guide, Catch Up or Box Set tab
  2. Look out for the download icon next to the listing in the app
  3. Tap the icon and it will download instantly and be saved to your device in the Downloads section

 

Once a show or film has been downloaded, you don’t need an internet connection to get going (so you can watch on airplane mode). Just kick back, relax, and while away the hours. There are thousands of shows waiting for you, plus Sky Cinema subscribers can also enjoy watch some quality films as well.

 


To make sure your devices are running at full speed, you should regularly clear the internet cache and cookies (not the real kind, save them for Santa). The cache remembers parts of pages, like images, to help them open faster during your next visit. Cookies are files created by sites you visit – they make your online experience easier by saving browsing data.


Just remember that once you’ve cleared your cache and cookies, some site settings get deleted. For example, if you were signed in automatically to an account, you’ll need to sign in again. Some sites might seem slower at first because content, like images, needs to load again.


Find your browser below and follow our instructions. You can clear your cache and cookies on all your devices, but to get you started, we’re going to explain the process for your computer first of all. We have written most of these for a PC, but have included instructions for a Mac where necessary.



Internet Explorer

  1. In Internet Explorer, select the Tools button, point to Safety, and then select Delete browsing history
  2. Select the Cookies and website data check box and then select Delete
  3. Click on the cog symbol in the upper-right corner of the browser and open the menu “Extras”
  4. Select “Internet options”
  5. In the General tab, select Browser history
  6. When you click Delete, a new window opens
  7. Remove all checks except “Temporary Internet files and website files”
  8. Select Delete to empty the browser cache, which will delete all cache data
  9. Reload the browser

 

Microsoft Edge

  1. Click on the “…” menu button in the upper-right corner
  2. Click on Settings
  3. Under Clear browsing data, click on Choose what to clear
  4. Check the boxes next to Cookies and saved website data and Cached data and files
  5. Click on Clear
  6. Reload the browser

 

Google Chrome

  1. At the top right, click More. On a Mac, select Chrome from the Menu Bar on the top left, then select Preferences
  2. Click More tools and then Clear browsing data. On a Mac, select Clear browsing data under the Privacy and security section
  3. At the top, choose a time range. To delete everything, select All time
  4. Check the boxes next to “Cookies and other site data” and “Cached images and files”
  5. Click Clear data
  6. Reload the browser

 

Mozilla Firefox on Windows

  1. Click the menu button and select Preferences
  2. Select the Privacy & Security panel and go to the Cookies and Site Data section
  3. Click the Clear Data button
  4. Check the boxes next to Cookies and Site Data and Cached Web Content
  5. Click Clear
  6. Reload the browser

 

Mozilla Firefox on a Mac

  1. Go to History in the Menu Bar and select Clear Recent History…
  2. Make a selection in Time range to clear
  3. In the History section, check the boxes next to Cache and Cookies
  4. Select Clear Now
  5. Reload the browser

 

Safari

To clear the cache

  1. On a Mac, select Safari from the Menu Bar on the top left, then select Preferences
  2. Select the Advanced tab
  3. Select “Show Develop menu in menu bar,” then close the Preferences menu
  4. Select the Develop tab from the Menu Bar on the top left of your screen
  5. Select Empty Caches from the dropdown menu

 

To clear cookies

  1. On a Mac, select Safari from the Menu Bar on the top left, then select Preferences
  2. Click on “Privacy,” then “Manage Website Data”
  3. Click “Remove all” from the dropdown menu

 


If you’re planning on having a big get-together this Christmas, and you’re concerned about there being sufficient bandwidth (as well as turkey) to go around, consider disconnecting devices which aren’t in use. Games consoles, smart TVs, tablets, wearables, laptops, and even some kitchen appliances are now connected to your router. 

 

So, if a smooth browsing experience is high on the agenda, and you’re going to have more people in the house than usual, think about where you can save some bandwidth. Most devices will have the usual WiFi symbol in their settings menus, and all you’ll need to do is tap it off, to temporarily disable its connection. Don’t worry, no data will be deleted and the password won’t be forgotten – it’s a temporary measure. 

 


Christmas is a good time to bid farewell to the old and welcome the new. So why not apply the same adage to your browser. How many times have you dismissed those pop-ups? A browser update not only protects your computer from viruses, but also allows a smoother, quicker browsing experience. 

 

To get started, visit updatemybrowser.org to run a check on your web browser to find out if you have the most recent version or if you need to update. If you’re all good to go, well done, you can stop reading here! For the rest of you receiving those pesky pop-ups prompting you to act, it’s time to stop ignoring them. Find your browser below and follow the instructions to continue surfing the web hassle-free.  



Microsoft Edge

Open the Windows Update application from the programme menu. If an update is available, you’ll be given the option to update.


Google Chrome

Follow Google’s step-by-step guide.


Mozilla Firefox

Follow Mozilla’s step-by-step guide.


Safari

Visit Apple’s support page.

 


Christmas is family time, but after three extra helpings of pigs in blankets and stuffing it can quickly turn into downtime. If you can’t all agree on what to watch after dinner, maybe everyone can agree to just watch their own thing. 

 

Thankfully, with the advent of smartphones, tablets and laptops, that’s entirely possible. To make sure you’re in a for a smooth ride – and to keep the dreaded spinning wheel at bay – we’ve got a few tips:

 

  1. First, run a broadband speeds explained

  2. Reduce the streaming video quality. Most streaming services offer this option, allowing you to select a specific resolution, or choose from super high, which can be 4K if your device allows it, high (1080p), medium (720p) or low (480p)

  3. Pause the video and allow it to buffer. You’ll be able to see how much has buffered by looking at the video player’s seek bar

  4. Download the video if the option is available. For example, you can do this on All 4 and BBC iPlayer. You’ll have to wait a while for the download as the file will most likely be large, but once it’s finished downloading, you’ll be able to play the video without interruption (and on the go, even if you don’t have WiFi)

  5. Every device connected to your broadband will reduce the available bandwidth, so switch off everything that’s not in use so there’s enough capacity for the video. Shut down or pause apps or services running in the background – this is particularly relevant if you’re streaming on a computer

  6. If none of the above works for you, there’s always the old favourite – turning it off and back on again. Restart the software first, and if that doesn’t help, reboot the streaming device

 


Are you planning on gifting someone a brand-new game this year? If you want to go the extra mile, don’t make them wait around to play it in the morning. Take on the role of old St Nick this Christmas Eve, and get that download started overnight.

 

Depending on the game, and the internet connection you have at home, a download can take a long time – for some huge VR games, it can be over four hours. So, a head start is never a bad idea. This is how to download a game from Xbox’s Microsoft Store, the PlayStation Store, and the Nintendo eShop. 

 

To speed up downloads, it always good to check there isn’t anything else hogging the bandwidth – like other ongoing downloads or high-quality streaming.

 

Xbox

  1. On the home screen, head to the guide on the left-hand side
  2. Navigate to Store app at the bottom – a shopping bag with four squares in it
  3. Search for the title you want by selecting the magnifying glass icon
  4. Find the game you want and click the big Buy button
  5. The game will be added to your game library, along with a progress bar
  6. The Xbox will need to be left on overnight, but the TV can be turned off

 

PlayStation

  1. Head to the Store on the main menu
  2. Navigate to Search at the top of the screen and tap it
  3. Type in the title of the game you want to download
  4. Hit the big download button
  5. The game will be added to your game library, along with a progress bar
  6. The PlayStation will need to be left on overnight, but the TV can be turned off

 

Nintendo Switch 

  1. Press the physical Home button to get to the main menu
  2. Navigate to the Nintendo eShop app, which looks like a shopping bag
  3. Choose your user
  4. Select Search at the top left
  5. Type in the game you’re looking for and hit the + button to search
  6. Tap the game you want to download
  7. Hit Proceed to Purchase > Choose your payment method
  8. The game will begin to download, appearing on the home screen with a progress bar
  9. The Switch will need to be left on overnight, but the TV can be turned off

 

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