5 Things Slowing Down Your Internet Speed and What to Do about Them

Network Speed

There are few things more frustrating than slow Internet. When a movie keeps freezing or conference calls keep dropping out, it can drive anyone crazy. Individuals who use the internet for business can even lose money when their connection isn’t up to par. Many factors can cause slow speeds but the good news is that many of them can be addressed. Doing regular speed tests can help to quickly identify patterns and highlight when something may be going wrong. Let’s discuss some of the things which may be causing your Internet to slow down and how you can respond.

The Location of Your Router

You may not have given much thought to where you installed your router. Chances are, you just plugged it into an available outlet and placed it on a shelf or the floor. This can be problematic for several reasons. Firstly, placing the router at a low height typically reduces performance. Secondly, wireless signals don’t penetrate physical barriers well. If you place your router on the second floor and try to access it on a device on the first floor, the signal might not be as strong. This is because it may have to travel vertically through flooring and solid walls. A third consideration where location is concerned is the distance between your router and your devices. The more distance you put between the two pieces of equipment, the weaker the signal will be.

If your Wi-Fi is slow, you may want to consider changing the position of the router. If it is close to the floor, elevate it as much as possible so the radio waves can be broadcasted further. Placing the router on a higher surface may also help to keep it free from interference. If physical barriers are in the way, try to eliminate them.

In the case of walls, position your access points so you’ll be perpendicular to the walls and not parallel to dense structures. You should also place your router and your devices as closely together as possible. If your devices will be spread out, put the router near the center of the space since Wi-Fi transmits in 360 degrees. Installing the router at the end of the building won’t be very effective. For large spaces, you may need additional devices like Wi-Fi extenders or repeaters to help to carry the signal over a wider area.

Unauthorized Access to Your Internet

If your Internet speeds have suddenly dropped, it may be because your network has been infiltrated. If you have a weak password or worse yet, no password at all, anyone could be connected. In other words, someone could be stealing your Internet. When someone else is using up your precious bandwidth and leaving you with limited service, you may find your upload and download speeds are suffering.

The first thing you need to do is confirm that people outside your home or organization are logged on to your network. You can use free software like Wireless Network Watcher or Wi-Fi History View to see which devices have been connected. Look for IP addresses which don’t match any of your equipment. If you discover that your network has been breached, you need to change your password immediately. Choose something secure which you can remember but thieves won’t be able to guess. Don’t use your business’ name or address as your password or you could get hit again.

Malware

Even if you don’t see any unknown devices connected to your network, you may still have a security problem. A virus or another form of malware could be running in the background of your computer. It may also have infected your web browser. The virus could be reducing your computer’s processing power and speed by opening windows and tabs which you can’t see. This means your network could be getting a huge amount of traffic which is slowing it to a crawl.

You can either download malware removal software or hand your computer over to a professional. The latter is the best option since an expert can check your entire network for problems. They can also advise you on how to prevent similar problems in the future. Among the things you would need to do are:

  • Improve your browser’s security settings
  • Avoid opening emails or attachments from unknown or suspicious senders
  • Install manufacturers’ updates as they are released
  • Avoid downloading games and other files from illegal or questionable sites

Signal Interference

There are wireless signals all around you and they can affect your Wi-Fi signal. They come from cell towers, satellites, cordless phones, and other electronic devices. Wi-Fi is usually on a frequency of 2.4 GHz which should be separate from other devices but noise can still cause interference.

If your router is older, the signal from a microwave is more likely to affect it than if it is a newer model.  Similarly, Bluetooth signals usually rotate among different frequencies and newer devices know to avoid channels which are in use. However, some disruption is still possible. Your neighbor’s router can also cause interference.

The easiest solution to Bluetooth or microwave interference is to move one of the devices. For more complicated cases, you may need to change your router’s channel to reduce noise and get faster Internet speeds. The default is usually channel 6 so you can try adjusting this up or down to avoid the competition.

Substandard Router or Cables

Over time, your router’s performance is likely to decrease due to a build-up of heat and general wear and tear. This can reduce the speed at which it processes network traffic and your Internet connection can take a dive. Your Ethernet cable may also be responsible for your slow speeds. Even if your network is perfectly optimized, a cable with broken copper can easily prevent you from having a smooth online experience. Older electrical systems may also have certain limitations.

To address these issues, consider investing in a newer, faster router and using the old one to extend your network. This should get traffic moving more quickly. If you think the cables may be the problem, check them for breaks or awkward bends. Network cable testers can help you identify the issue if it isn’t visible.

No one likes slow Internet. Naturally, there are times of day when speeds can slow down because of the number of people online. Also, you may expect challenges if you are downloading or uploading large file. However, constant low speeds need to be addressed. Try the tips above to help troubleshoot your slow Internet and take steps to boost your speeds.

Emily Jacobs is Happiness Ambassador for SpeedCheck.org

She loves to write latest technology trends and love to share her knowledge through her articles.


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