Why Is My Internet Slow?
Throttling is one of many potential bottlenecks that can slow down a consumer Internet connection.
If you’ve gone through the appropriate tests and determined that your internet isn’t being throttled, as we described in part one of this article, or you simply aren’t convinced one way or the other, there are other tests you can perform to find the true cause.
Here are a few reasons why your internet could be slow:
Your modem and router are old or outdated. Most of the time, the issue is something to do with your modem and router — they might need a restart, or be too old to function properly.
You’re connected during “high traffic” hours. The second most common issue is “peak use” slowdowns from other customers. It’s normal for cable Internet to slow down around 30% from 5–9 PM when everyone in the neighborhood starts their nightly Netflix binge.
WiFi connections are slower than Ethernet. Finally, keep in mind that it’s normal for Internet connections to slow down when you’re on WiFi vs. plugged in with Ethernet. Connect your computer to the router with Ethernet and run a speed test to see if the speed is still reduced.
Go through the checklist below to check if there’s another issue before assuming you’re being throttled:
- Reset your router. Occasionally, the equipment just needs a reboot to get your connection back up to speed.
- Connect via Ethernet cable to see if it’s a problem with your WiFi
- Connect via another device to see if the problem is isolated to one computer.
- Check for viruses with a reputable antivirus and malware scanner
- Call your service provider to see if they can detect a technical issue. If not examine your own equipment. Is it up to date? If it has been a long time since you upgraded your router, for example, the slowing of your Internet may be down to hardware issues.
New Hardware for Better Internet Connections
If you have a router or modem that can’t keep pace with your needs, you might find your connection going down, or slowing down without explanation. And if you are working from home now consumer grade modems and routers aren’t necessarily the best Most consumer grade routers and modems are designed to handle basic traffic because they’re on the cheaper side. As you go up in price you’ll typically, but not always, get better products.
Better modems and routers usually have faster Central Processing Units (CPUs) and more Random Access Memory (RAM) than the cheapest products, which means they can handle more devices, more requests, and more data without giving out. The more you use your Internet, the more you’ll have a need for better hardware.
When you had your home Internet installed, did you connect to it using the WiFi password provided by the service technician? If you did, you are using a combination modem and router in one unit. These devices are good for people who don’t want to buy their own routers, but they’re usually on the cheaper side and aren’t up to handling a large workload.
While you may have WiFi, those WiFi speeds may be limited by the limited hardware in the system. The newest WiFi, called 802.11ax or WiFi 6, is faster and better than previous generations. But the WiFi technology in these devices may only support up to 802.11n or WiFi 4, which is more than 15 years old.
You won’t get the best speeds with your new tech on these types of units. You may even notice a lot of lag time and dropped connections to the equipment if you have a lot of devices in your home connecting at once. The equipment just might not be able to keep up with the demand.
A router is a router and a modem is a modem, right? Not exactly. Do you remember how slow your computer was ten years ago compared to the faster computer you have now? Computers have CPUs with more cores and faster frequencies than before.
RAM is also faster and more of it can be crammed into a single chip, meaning better performance for all the data that gets sent back and forth. It works the same way for routers and modems. Faster CPUs are generally better and may be able to increase your performance. But RAM is typically where most routers fail. More and faster RAM can handle more threads, which is especially important is you have a lot of network traffic going back and forth
If you do over-utilize your network, slow CPU and RAM can cause bottlenecks in your network. When you have a bottleneck, something has to slow down. It’s just like a lot of traffic on the highway having to slow down when the lanes are reduced for construction. Everything needs to process through the router and modem before it gets to the final destination, after all. So your frequent buffering might be caused by cheap hardware not being able to keep up.
Power users – like new home workers – that send large amounts of data back and forth or that have a lot of users and devices accessing data at the same time can benefit from upgraded routers and modems that feature faster CPUs and more RAM.
Need help optimizing your home network for remote work? Contact us today, we’ll be happy to help.