Do you suffer from slow internet speeds at home?
With so many of us now spending a lot of time at home, especially when there are multiple people on the same property, the struggle for capacity can lead to a host of connectivity issues.
Connectivity drops, bottlenecks, laggy content streaming and downloads, and slow speeds are all common problems with home internet services — and it might not be your provider’s fault.
As well: How to optimize your network for remote work and learning
Below, we explore common reasons why your internet connection might be slow – and offer suggestions on how to fix them.
Assess your bandwidth
If you have consistent speed issues, your bandwidth is the first thing you should consider.
Make sure you’re on a plan that can keep up with today’s range of devices and their bandwidth demands. As noted by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols of ZDNet, a minimum speed of 30 Mbps is recommended. While many areas are only served by cable connections, if fiber is available it should provide improved speeds.
See also: Slow Wi-Fi? 8 ways to speed up your home office network
Your Internet service provider may have imposed a limitation on your service if you are considered to be using too much bandwidth. If so, you’ll need to call the provider to resolve the issue and, perhaps, renegotiate your contract or switch providers altogether.
Check your speed
If you’re already on a plan such as fiber and there’s no reason you’re experiencing slow internet speeds because of what you’re paying, go to Speedtest.net or Fast.com for a real-time analysis of your connection.
These free services ping and check your upload and download speeds, as shown below:
If you pay for a plan of up to 30 Mbps and only receive speeds of 2 or 3 Mbps, for example, it may be an issue with your ISP.
At this point, it’s worth checking with your provider to see if there’s an outage in the area – an easy way to do this is to type the name of your ISP and “outage” into a search engine or visit their website. You can also ask a neighbor or two if they have any problems.
Flashing lights on your router can also indicate a problem outside your home, such as with cables or junction boxes.
However, if you are having problems only with a specific online service, go to Down for everyone or only for me, enter the address and check if your slow speed or domain login failure is a third party. part problem or breakdown. Sometimes the inability to access web domains is not due to your service, but rather to ISPs or Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), such as when Fastly rendered large swaths of the web inaccessible due to a breakdown in June 2021.
As well: Best Internet Speed Tests: The Five Tests We Trust
Reset your router
Sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one. If your speed suffers, try unplugging your router, leaving it powered off for about 10 seconds, then restarting. Just as a PC sometimes needs a refresh, routers sometimes need it too.
Check the location of your router
There are two general categories of hardware used to connect your home: a traditional router or a mesh network (unless you’re using a mobile device and a 3G/4G/5G cellular setup).
Traditional routers act as a central hub to connect you to your ISP’s service. These routers handle traffic through an access point.
In comparison, mesh networks are more modern market entrants that create a network of nodes for Internet access. Instead of each home device connecting to a router, these products include a hub and nodes that can be spread across different areas of your home – and devices will connect to the nearest node to access the web.
If you’re using traditional hardware, such as a default router provided by your ISP, you should keep in mind that the further away you are, the greater the risk of connection issues, slowdowns, and dropouts. A simple solution is to move your router – perhaps closer to your home office – or invest in a Wi-Fi extender to increase signal strength.
Objects can also interfere with connections between your devices and a router. If possible, try to keep clutter around your router to a minimum.
Consider a mesh network
However, large properties or home offices located in a garden or yard may simply not be serviced by a centralized internet hub. If so, moving your router won’t be enough, and it might be time to consider a mesh network instead.
As well: Mesh Networking vs. Traditional Wi-Fi Routers: Which is Best for Your Home Office?
On that note, both categories can provide reasonable speeds, but mesh networks tend to sacrifice some speed for better connectivity. If you need high-speed direct connections for streaming, gaming, and power-hungry work applications, an upgrade from your standard router is a worthwhile investment and will likely perform better than a mesh setup. The default router typically provided by an ISP may simply not meet the bandwidth demands in today’s homes.
There’s also no point in buying a high-speed internet plan if your old hardware can’t support it. Thus, you should also consider the age of your router if slow speeds are an issue.
Check your wiring
Something that can be overlooked but could cause connectivity or speed issues is the wiring connecting your router to a switch, phone jack, or PC. If your cables are old, you may consider refreshing them and replacing the old ADSL/Ethernet cables and see if that fixes the problem.
Find and unload internet hijackers
If you’re suffering from slow speeds, it could be because someone else is hijacking your internet subscription. Routers usually come with a random password set by default and printed on a sticker on your router, but if you’ve changed your password to something weak, using an insecure protocol, or has a hotspot Wi-Fi open, you might be at risk. other people using your network without your consent.
To lock your connection or change your password, go to your router’s configuration page in a browser. You’ll need to check your provider’s specific router address – which is usually something like 192.168.0.1 – or do a Google search with your router type, which should provide the address you need to access the router settings and start all unwanted users.
Switch to a less frequented channel
Wi-Fi channels make it easy to send and receive data. When you have too many connections, it can cause a bottleneck that slows down your broadband. Depending on the channels used by your router, you may be able to switch to less congested traffic paths.
There are various Android and iOS apps to easily scan your Wi-Fi channels and reveal which devices are connected to your network. To change channels, you can log into your router’s configuration page and select from the available options.
Try another VPN location
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is software that adds a layer of encryption to connections made between your device and servers, as well as masks your IP address. Now that many of us are working from home, offices may require you to use a VPN to securely access corporate resources.
You can either subscribe to a VPN as a paid customer or opt for a free service. Paid options are generally faster, but can still slow down your internet connection because you’re using a relay for traffic – and if the VPN service is used at peak times, there can also be congestion.
As well: Best VPN Services: Security and Speed Don’t Come for Free
A quick fix is often to try another location option offered by your VPN; for example, London users configured on a New York server might try to use another server located in the UK. However, not all VPNs are created equal and there can be substantial differences in the speeds offered.
Free VPNs are generally not recommended because in exchange for free access there is always a trade-off – whether it’s security, your personal data, or speed. If you’re using a free VPN option and the low speed is intolerable, you might consider signing up for a paid service instead.
Our current top picks include ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and NordVPN.
Scan for Malware
Another reason why your Internet may be slow may have nothing to do with your hardware or your ISP. If your computer has been infected with malware, such as harmful software, the program may limit the overall performance by using memory reserves. Run a virus scan just to make sure.
Check your background usage
Finally, some resource-heavy mobile apps and PC programs or streaming requirements can use up the bandwidth you otherwise need without you realizing it. Close any software you don’t need to be running.
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