Why Is My Internet So Slow?
Table of Contents
Occasionally experiencing a slow Wi-Fi connection is not too much of a concern. But when your Internet speed is consistently dragging and affecting upload speeds and devices around the house, like baby monitors and smart TVs, then it’s worth looking into what might be causing you to experience speed issues.
There are a number of factors that could be affecting your Internet speed. Thankfully, a slower-than-normal Internet connection is not an unsolvable problem and there are various ways of pinpointing problem areas that you can easily fix so that your laggy Internet is a thing of the past.
The aim of this guide is to help you decipher all the possible reasons your connection speed is acting up, along with providing you with easy fixes to reboot and boost your Internet connection. Don’t panic, your Wi-Fi speed won’t remain slow forever. Here’s everything you need to know about how to improve Internet speed.
Common Reasons for Slow Internet Speed
When you’re trying to figure out what’s causing your Internet connection to slow down to the point of concern, there are multiple angles you need to consider. An Internet connection is dependent on a modem, router, and service from an Internet provider.
When either of those things is compromised by physical obstructions or network congestion, the signal strength diminishes and causes you to experience a slow Internet connection. Of course, those are not the only reasons why your Internet is slow. Here are a few others.
Peak Times Are Crowding Your Network
Internet traffic is very similar to a highway; it gets busier than normal during certain hours of the day, commonly referred to as “peak hours." Peak hours create a lot of high network traffic, which means there is less available bandwidth for you to stay connected at a decent speed.
The good news is that if your Internet connection slows down during peak hours, chances are it will go back to regular speeds once the bandwidth opens back up and the Internet traffic goes back to normal. There’s not much you can do in these instances, except to wait it out and hope that you don’t have slow Internet for too long.
If you suspect that perhaps your slow connection speed is due to something more than network traffic, don’t hesitate to check for outages in the area. The easiest way to do this is by going through the Internet service provider app or website and checking if there are any outage alerts.
Equipment Is Too Far Away
Although you might not realize it, the distance between your connected devices and your Internet equipment can negatively affect your Internet speeds. When your router and modem are tucked away in some corner of your home, the Wi-Fi signal weakens as it travels from your router to your wireless devices.
Your router and modem are sensitive to obstructions along the way, like furniture around the house, that often debilitate the ability of your router to transmit a strong-enough signal that can keep you connected with powerful Wi-Fi coverage.
The best way to test whether your router is too far away and causing issues with Internet speeds is to run a speed test with your device right next to the router, and one from far away. Depending on the results of each test, you may have an answer as to why your WiFi speed is less than stellar.
Your Router Is Too Old
If your wireless router is more than five years old, it’s time to get a new one. Wireless devices evolve at a rapid pace and their capabilities need to be compatible with your router so that you can enjoy optimal connection speeds.
A router that is more than five years old is no longer able to support the signal strength necessary to provide you with fast wireless speeds. This is because outdated routers, or low-quality ones, have weaker processing units that were built with slower speeds in mind.
Most modern routers not only have higher-quality processing units but are easily able to handle multiple mobile devices and keep you connected through strong Wi-Fi channels.
Your ISP Is Throttling Your Internet Connection
Your Internet service provider is in charge of providing you with the best and most reliable Internet access. However, it’s very possible that, if you originally signed up for a low-cost plan with low bandwidth capabilities, your Internet service provider is throttling your service after you use too much bandwidth.
Nowadays, families have more than one device connected at home. In fact, most households need an Internet package that can manage multiple smart home devices, along with bandwidth capabilities that are strong enough to handle streaming, gaming, multiple browser windows, and everything else that an Internet plan should be able to give you.
How much bandwidth you use is entirely dependent on everything you do online and what you use your Internet for. What many Internet providers end up doing when they feel that you are consuming too much bandwidth is that they will deliberately restrict your bandwidth and slow your Internet without telling you, while enforcing your data cap.
As a result, your Internet service provider gains control over network traffic, reduces any congestions with the bandwidth, and limits your Internet use to one that runs at slow speeds. Although slow Internet isn’t always due to Internet throttling, Internet service providers have been known to throttler services for heavy Internet users.
Your VPN Is Slowing Down Your Connection Speed
Although Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are great for privacy and ensuring you’re safe online, they can also affect Internet speeds and slow down your Internet. There’s a valid reason for this, though. Think about what the purpose of having a VPN is; they’re there to reroute your connection so that your information can stay safely away from prying eyes.
What a VPN does is it reroutes your connection through their own private networks, instead of having it go from your Internet service provider to your final destination directly. This process is time-consuming and it also eats up processing power, which decreases speed and slows down your network. This will make activities like streaming TV and gaming impossibly slow and not as enjoyable.
Too Many Devices = Slow Internet Speeds
It’s perfectly normal to have multiple connected devices at home. However, the higher the count of devices, the more likely you are to experience a slow network. This is because items like radios or baby monitors, that emit radio frequencies, have a tendency to jam your network and create a lot of traffic.
As a result, this interferes with your speed and will create connectivity issues with all the devices and weaken the Wi-Fi signal. It’s a good idea to take stock of the number of devices that you have at home and run multiple speed tests so that you can figure out if the number of devices is making your Internet slow.
Your Connection Is Being Affected by Virus and Malware
It’s possible that your device has a virus or malware that’s slowing everything down and causing you to have speed issues. A virus can easily eat up all your device’s resources. Moreover, viruses and malware have the power of seizing more bandwidth than you realize and disrupt services anytime their presence infiltrates your network.
Experts advise having antivirus and malware protection programs installed so that you can sporadically run scans and see if anything suspicious pops up. In the case that you don’t have any virus and malware protection installed, running a speed test can also help you decipher if there’s anything going on. But, investing in malware protection is the best way to go.
Best Ways to Fix a Slow Internet Connection
Now that you’ve figured out what’s causing you to have network jams and a generally slower-than-usual Internet connection, it’s time to find a solution and add more speed to your Internet. There are various ways of doing this, and the good part is, that nothing will be too complicated or time-consuming. Here’s everything you need to know.
Check Your Modem and Router
Think of this dynamic duo as the engine that drives your entire connection. Both modems and routers are sensitive to their position in your household and, if they’re outdated, replacing them with newer versions can sometimes aid in improving the speed of your wireless network.
Adjust Router Position
It’s unbelievable how much the position of your equipment can potentially impact the speed of your Wi-Fi and the strength of the signal. Ideally, you’ll want to place your router and modem on a spot that’s off the floor and away from any and all obstructions. Anything that gets in its path, will also get in the way of faster Internet.
A central location is key for optimal coverage and speed. If you can find a place that’s near where you spend most of your time or the area in your home where most Internet activity takes place, then that will be the best spot for your modem/router combo to stay.
Some common physical obstructions are:
- Brick or concrete walls
- Large metal appliances, like refrigerators
- Thick, heavy doors or windows
Check for Updates
If you haven’t updated software or firmware in a while, this may be the major culprit affecting your connection speed. Modems and routers need to be running on the most updated software in order to be efficient and decrease the chances of slowing down your Internet speed. Installing the latest software update is a way of making sure that you’re free of viruses or bugs that may be preventing it from running optimally.
Reboot Your Router
Sounds simple enough, but a quick reboot to your equipment can help in returning speed back to normal so that you can continue streaming your favorite shows without interruptions. A router is prone to getting bogged down after a while of running continuously without a break. If you don’t want to worry about restarting or rebooting often, most routers come with an option to schedule a weekly reboot to maintain connectivity and help improve speed.
Optimize Your Wi-Fi Setup
A better Wi-Fi coverage equates to fast Internet and less disruption for speed. In fact, what you might be thinking of as “slow Internet" could in fact be a weak Wi-Fi signal. This is why it’s important to make sure that if you’re using an entirely wireless Wi-Fi connection, that your Wi-Fi is running smoothly and as fast as possible.
Reduce Interference From Other Electronics
Believe it or not, devices in your home like microwaves, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, wireless security systems, and garage doors can negatively affect the signal and cause your Internet to slow down. An easy way to fix this is to make sure that your modem is using a 5 GHz frequency so that you can get a strong connection and maximize resources to increase speed.
Protect WiFi Network with a Strong Password
Having a strong password means that no one will be able to get into your network and cause issues with speed. It may be a drag to come up with a complicated password, but it will help keep your speed steady and your connection protected from anyone outside your home.
Purchase a Wi-Fi Extender
A Wi-Fi extender does exactly what its title suggests, it extends the Wi-Fi to the most remote corners of your home and allows you to retain the Internet speeds that your smart home requires in order to maximize connectivity and functionality. Wi-Fi extenders catch the Wi-Fi signal and help spread it along to other devices and shorten the distance it has the Wi-Fi signal has to travel.
Opt for An Ethernet Cable Connection
Ethernet ports are infinitely more reliable than wireless Wi-Fi. By connecting to your Internet connection through an ethernet cord, you’ll bypass obstructions and eliminate slowdowns caused by distance.
Connecting your computer directly to your modem through an ethernet cable, allows your devices to send and receive data almost instantaneously. Distance is not an issue and you’re likely to see fewer problems with speed than if you’re exclusively using a wireless Wi-Fi connection.
Limit Bandwidth-Hogging Apps
If you’re someone that often has too many apps open, you might want to try to limit their use to only the ones you truly need and depend on. Having too many browsers and apps open can slow down your Internet more than you realize.
For example, file-syncing services like Google Drive, DropBox, or OneDrive are constantly moving and transferring data in the background that slows everything down and limits the speed that you need for activities like streaming.
Depending on what kind of operating system you have, your computer might also be downloading software updates that, although necessary for the overall health of your system, can unconsciously eat up your bandwidth and cause you to have problems with speed.
Call Your Internet Provider
No one particularly enjoys having to call Internet providers, but as a last resort, if nothing else works and you continue to experience problems with draggy Internet, then it’s worth a shot to give your ISP a call and have them help you figure out what might be the source of the problem. Chances are they’ll be able to perform additional troubleshooting to fix the problem or help you upgrade your internet plan to one that offers faster speeds.
Finding a Better High-Speed Internet Plan
If all fails, then it’s time to find a plan that can offer a speed that’s fast enough to accommodate all your Internet needs. A fast download speed is usually considered to be anything that reaches at least 25Mbps. However, these days, with all the devices, apps, and online activities that people engage in, that’s simply not enough to withstand all that you want out of a fast Internet connection. See what your ISP can offer and consider upgrading to a plan that can reach well over 50Mbps for downloads.
One Final Word of Advice
Be patient. Experiencing slow Internet can be frustrating and give you plenty of headaches, but the chances of it being a simple fix are very high. With computers and Internet connections, there’s hardly anything that’s unfixable. Take a deep breath and take your time in figuring out the root of the problem.