With so much of the US and global labour — and their families — now locked up at home to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, it’s not surprising that the home Internet is suffering. If you’ve ever had a business video conference stall as your teenagers play Call of Duty online or binge-watch a Netflix show, or if you’ve ever found yourself unable to stream the news while your spouse downloads massive data files for work, you’ll understand the issue.
Bandwidth is now required not only by our computers, but also by our mobile devices, Internet of Things (IoT) goods, the virtual private network (VPN) services we use to access business resources, smart TVs, gaming consoles, and streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. With so many of us now spending a significant amount of time at home, especially when numerous people live in the same house, the battle for bandwidth can lead to a slew of connectivity concerns.
Dropped connections, blockages, lagging multimedia streaming and downloads, and poor speeds are all frequent issues with residential internet services – and they may not be your provider’s fault.
We’ll look at some of the most common reasons why your internet could be slow – and how to repair them.
A low-cost Internet Service Provider (ISP) subscription may have previously served you well for checking email or watching YouTube videos at home. If you have constant speed problems and require a connection that can manage VPNs, smart home devices, a remote Microsoft Teams work meeting, and all while one child is using Zoom to attend a virtual class and another is gaming, this is the first thing you should consider.
Before you start looking at your gear, make sure you’re on a package that can handle today’s assortment of devices and their bandwidth demands. It is advised that you have a minimum speed of 30Mbps. While many regions are solely served by cable, if fibre is available, it should deliver faster speeds.
If your internet provider believes you are using too much bandwidth, they may have throttled your service. If this is the case, you will need to contact them to remedy the issue, and you may need to renegotiate your contract or move providers entirely.
If you already have a fibre package and there’s no reason why you’re getting sluggish internet speeds because of what you’re paying for, go to Speedtest.net or Fast.com for a real-time review of your connection.
These free services will ping your computer and check your download and upload speeds, as seen in the progress bar below:
If you pay for a service with speeds of up to 30Mbps but only receive speeds of 2 or 3Mbps, your ISP may be at fault.
At this point, it’s worth checking in with your provider to see if there’s an outage in the area; you can do this easily by searching for your ISP’s name and “outage” or visiting their website. You could also ask a neighbour or two if they are experiencing any difficulties.
Flickering lights on your router could also be an indication of a problem outside your homes, such as with cables or junction boxes.
If you’re having difficulties with a specific online service, go to Down For Everyone Or Just Me, type in the address, and check to see if your sluggish speed or failed connection to a site is a third-party problem or outage. In some cases, being unable to access web domains is due to ISPs or content delivery networks rather than your service (CDNs).
If you’re experiencing slower Internet than usual, you might try resetting your modem and router (turning them off and on again). You should also check the other gadgets in your home before and after this step. If it’s just one device that’s slow, it could be a hardware issue.
If the lights on your modem and router turn come on after you reset them, try connecting your computer directly to the modem with the ethernet wire that your ISP should have given you when they installed your Internet. Reset the modem once more. If you still have the Internet after this, it’s a router issue. If not, contact your Internet service provider.
There are two types of hardware used to connect your home: classic routers and mesh networks (unless you rely on a mobile device and cellular 3G/4G/5G configuration).
Traditional routers serve as a central point for connecting you to your ISP’s service. These routers control traffic via a single access point.
Mesh networks, on the other hand, are a new market entry that creates a network of nodes for internet access. Instead of connecting every home device to a single router, these solutions have a hub and nodes that can be put throughout your home, with gadgets connecting to the nearest node to access the internet.
If you utilise traditional hardware, such as a default router provided by your ISP, keep in mind that the farther you are from your ISP, the more likely you are to suffer connection problems, slow speeds, and dropouts. A simple approach is to relocate your router, possibly closer to your home office, or to get a Wi-Fi extender to improve signal strength.
Objects can also obstruct communications between your devices and a router. If at all possible, try to keep the area around your router as clear as possible.
Larger houses or home offices in a garden or yard, on the other hand, may not be serviceable by a single centralised internet hub. If this is the case, simply changing your router will not be enough, and it may be time to investigate a mesh network instead.
It is also pointless to sign up for a high-speed internet subscription if your current technology is incapable of supporting it. If you are experiencing poor speeds, you should also evaluate the age of your router.
If you are experiencing poor internet speeds, it is possible that someone else is using your internet service. Routers typically come with a randomised password that is set as the default and printed on a sticker on your router, but if you have changed your password to something weak, are using an insecure protocol, or have an open Wi-Fi hotspot, this could indicate that others are using your network without your permission.
To lock your connection or change your password, open a browser and navigate to your router’s setup page. You will need to check your vendor’s specific router address use – which is usually something similar to 192.168.0.1 – or run a Google search with your router type to find the address you need to access router settings and boot out any undesirable users.
Games and video-related programmes, in particular, can have a significant influence on your network and produce what appear to be slow Internet connections. It’s easy to overlook the fact that these applications are running. When troubleshooting a slow network, look for any apps that are operating in the background on your PCs.
Wi-Fi channels make data transmission and reception easier. When you have too many connections, you may experience a bottleneck, slowing down your broadband. You may be able to switch to less crowded traffic lanes depending on the channels your router utilises.
There are numerous Android and iOS apps that can simply analyse your Wi-Fi channels and reveal which devices are connected to your network. You can change channels by logging onto your router’s configuration page and selecting from the available options.
A virtual private network (VPN) is software that encrypts connections between your device and servers while also masking your IP address. Because many of us work from home, workplaces may need you to utilise a VPN to access company resources for security reasons.
You have the option of paying for a VPN service or using a free service. Paid options are usually faster, but they can still slow down your internet because you are using a relay for traffic – and if you use the VPN service during peak hours, there may be congestion as well.
A quick fix is to switch to a different location option provided by your VPN; for example, London users assigned to a New York server could switch to a different server in the UK. Not all VPNs are made equal, and there can be significant disparities in the speeds available.
Free VPNs are generally not suggested because there is always a compromise in exchange for free access, whether it is in terms of security, personal data, or speed. If you’re using a free VPN and the slow performance is becoming unbearable, you might want to consider upgrading to a paid service instead.
Another reason for slow internet may have nothing to do with your gear or ISP. If your computer is infected with malware. the software may be limiting general performance by consuming memory reserves. Just to be sure, do an antivirus scan.
If your default Internet service provider’s DNS servers are slow, switching DNS servers may help speed up your apparent connection speed.
This is how DNS works: When you visit a website such as google.com, your computer contacts its DNS servers and inquires, “What numerical IP address is linked with google.com?” It receives an answer and connects to that IP address, which may be 184.108.40.206, and then connects to that address.
DNS servers are typically provided by your Internet service provider. However, if they are slow or overloaded, you may be able to improve speed by moving to a different set of DNS servers. Both Google Public DNS and OpenDNS are widely used.
The solutions mentioned above should fix all your slow internet woes. If you still can’t solve the problem, there’s a good possibility it’s not a fixable problem. It is possible that there is an issue with your Internet service provider. For example, there could be an issue with the cable line connecting your home to your ISP, or with other equipment they have. In this instance, contact your Internet service provider and report the issue.
You pay your Internet service provider to ensure a reliable connection, and it is their responsibility to resolve any issues that arise on their end. Just make sure it’s their fault and not a problem on your end.