How To Combine Two or More Internet Sources: Bonding, Load Balancing, Failover

So, you’ve got two or more internet sources and you want to combine them to create one faster, more reliable connection? Here’s how to do it. 

Bonding

Combining multiple internet sources into one connection is called bonding the connection, and it’s not quite as simple as you might assume. Because internet data is sent and received from your device, if you split up those data packets and send them over multiple internet connections, you will need a server on the other end to combine them again. 

The easiest way to do this is by installing software on your computer like Speedify and running multiple internet connections into that computer. If you want your bonded internet connection to work throughout your home, you’ll want to install Speedify on a router or a Raspberry Pi and connect your internet into that. 

Of course, Speedify will cost a monthly fee, so many users will be looking for a cheaper option. 

Load Balancing

The next step down from bonding is called load balancing. You can buy a very inexpensive load balancing router and connect multiple internet sources to it, and the router will use each source for different devices. For example, it may use one internet source for a computer and another for video streaming on another device. 

The benefit of load balancing is that it’s easy and affordable, but unlike bonding, it isn’t capable of speeding up things like a single large upload or download or streaming a video. 

Failover

Maybe you don’t want to combine multiple internet sources, but you want to use a second as a backup in case the first fails. This is called a failover system. Load balancing routers can be set to “failover” rather than load balancing if you have a data cap on one of your internet sources and you only want to use it in emergencies. 

Another option is a wireless router that has a SIM card slot and automatic failover. The Netgear Nighthawk AX4 will use your standard internet source via Ethernet, but if that connection fails, it will automatically switch over to the 4G network from the SIM card. 

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5 Comments
Patrick Hall's picture

I really hope we figure this out because it is so annoying to have a stream go down. Did you find a sim card that gives you a set amount of usage but never expires?

Lee Morris's picture

Not yet

B In SEA's picture

Will your Nighthawk failover keep a live stream going? I would guess not, which is why Speedify really emphasizes that use in their marketing.

If you’re looking at Speedify bonding check out SmoothWAN, it’s a much easier OpenWRT software to setup a Raspberry Pi (or other) as a router. It has made my terrible rural internet feel totally fine for the first time ever (DSL plus cellular Secondary)

Kane Smith's picture

MK3 version of the Surf SOHO with AC WiFi, Many ways to do what your saying with on device. I use 4 plus connections (2 DSL, Starlink, Cable, Cell phone and even a old school dial up acct) it's dual 2.4/5 along with eth 4 ports. I'm in no way affiliated just a happy user. Do you you want with this info or i just passing useful info as this has worked for me for last 6 years!

Clayton Nummer's picture

I previously used Failover with a Ubiquiti Unifi router but had a lot of issues. There was a noticeable delay when failover occurs of 10-30 seconds which is not an issue if you're just surfing the web but basically kills any current streams or ongoing calls. Also, after the primary internet was back up devices would maintain a connection over the backup internet until the device disconnected/reconnected or the router was rebooted - I'm not sure if this was a behavior specific to the Unifi router, but it caused some very high bills for my backup internet connection. For reference, my backup connection was a data-only SIM from Google Fi where there's no monthly cost and a flat-rate $10/GB, although throttling would occur after 15GB IIRC.

I since switched to a Load Balanced setup with a Peplink router and it has been absolutely rock solid. In my area Comcast has a monopoly on cable internet service and there is also a 1.2TB data limit which I was often coming close to or exceeding. I could pay an extra $30/month for unlimited data or $20/month for their rented modem/Wi-Fi system which includes unlimited data, but with load balanced internet my data usage is divided roughly in half which gives me plenty of buffer below the 1.2TB limit. I started with load balancing Xfinity and ATT DSL, but as soon as T-Mobile 5G Home internet became available I jumped on that - it would take a much larger power outage to take down cellular service, and the upload speeds are orders of magnitude faster. When I considered paying an extra $20-30/month for unlimited data on Xfinity vs paying an extra $50/month for the redundant connection with better resiliency and upload speeds it was a no-brainer.