There are plenty of things in our lives that can be annoying. It is frustrating enough to spill coffee on a shirt when in a hurry or to misplace something essential, like the car keys, when we’re already late for work.
But you know what’s even more frustrating than those day-to-day annoyances? Having slow Internet. That’s because we use the Internet for everything—especially since living in a pandemic.
Home WiFi is part of our livelihood, and it’s irritating (and even a little embarrassing) to be in the middle of a Zoom meeting and have our face get stuck in a weird way or to stream a show that we’re really into only for the buffering sign to make an appearance right in the middle of all the action.
Besides the annoying aspects of having a slow Internet connection, slow WiFi can also affect work. When a business doesn’t have a connection that is up to par with its needs, it can lose money, contracts, and customers. If a student is taking a test online and the home WiFi connection slows down, it could potentially affect their grade on the test or in the class.
The truth of the matter is that having a reliable home Internet connection that is speedy enough for our lifestyle is just as important as having central heating in the winter. Everything is done online—whether it is through computers or phones—even if we don’t like to think of the Internet as part of the family.
While it may be tempting to blame our Internet providers for how slow our WiFi is, there are actually a lot of things we do in our homes that slow down the connection more than we think—things that can be easily fixed and improved.
Doing regular speed tests, for example, can help identify what might be slowing down your WiFi and how you can fix it. It could be a matter of moving the router to a better location or clearing up a signal interference from an appliance. Whatever it is, there is a solution for it. The important thing is to catch the problem that is slowing down your connection so you and your family can lead more productive lives without having to worry about the WiFi lagging.
We all agree: Slow WiFi is awful. But what exactly is causing the delay of the speedy connection we all crave?
Router location is very important because routers are very sensitive to their placement in the house. Chances are you probably stuck the router somewhere convenient and out of the way, but if your router is on the floor far away from where you normally use your devices, this could contribute to slow WiFi.
Routers that are put on the floor tend to have reduced performance because they spread their signal downward. If the router is on the floor, the coverage is not maximized. It is best to mount them on a high shelf or wall so that they can work at full capacity.
Make sure that there’s nothing blocking the router, even if it’s on a high shelf. The signal path should be as clear as possible so you can get the best possible connection.
Believe it or not, this happens more often than it should. A part of the reason is that users tend to get lazy, annoyed, or overwhelmed at the idea of having to come up with a complicated password that no one will be able to decipher.
Even though it may be annoying, your WiFi security is more important. It is essential to have a strong enough password so it’s difficult for unauthorized users to hop onto your connection and start limiting your usage.
When someone steals your WiFi, your bandwidth connection is being used by someone that’s not in your household (but probably in close proximity to your router, like a neighbor or a passerby). This can slow down your uploading and downloading speeds and expose your personal information to others.
It’s a good idea to do sporadic checks on your WiFi history and make sure that the IP addresses showing up match devices within your household. If you find that your connection has been breached, change your password immediately. Remember: Try not to use family names or addresses as a password because they are too easy to break into.
This is something to pay attention to if you have an older router. With older routers, something as common as the signal from the microwave can affect it and slow down your home WiFi.
We have wireless signals from all kinds of places, such as cell towers, satellites, and other cellphones. Sometimes, all the different signals can create a lot of noise for your router—especially when it’s older. Even Bluetooth signals can create interference that the older router models don’t know how to avoid.
If you feel like this might be your issue, you can try to clear the path of the router as much as possible by moving one of the devices to a different location. However, it may be easier simply to get a new router that has better capabilities when it comes to blocking noise.
Even if you have a strong password and no one is stealing your home WiFi, it is still possible that your computer has some type of malware running in the background, making the connection slow and keeping you from the speed you need.
Someone doesn’t necessarily have to be actively stealing your WiFi for the connection to slow down. Sometimes, viruses get into your system simply by opening an email infected with the malware or by not having enough security settings on your browser.
If you suspect malware is the cause of your WiFi slowing down, it’s probably best to take the computer to a professional. While you can run malware software on your computer, they are not always completely thorough in removing everything. Plus, when you take it to a professional, you can rest assured that they know what they’re doing and are way less likely to have to wipe your computer clean.
While it is tempting to scream at your router the next time you notice your WiFi acting slow, now you have a better idea about what may be causing the issue. So take a deep breath; check for viruses, signal blockage, or security breaches; and then decide what the best solution is before throwing the router across the room. Slow WiFi is often fixable at home.
And if you don’t think it’s any of the above issues, you may want to consider a different Internet provider or a higher-speed package. The most important thing is not to panic—you will be able to finish that movie without constant buffering.