Your video lags, the audio keeps cutting out and downloading seems to take forever. Everybody knows the feeling. You have a good DSL subscription, but why is this happening? Now that nearly everything runs online, a below-par internet connection can be a headache.
Your internet connection is important than ever and you want to know the reasons why your internet is so slow.
How your internet works
The internet not just takes shape in the air but is a worldwide computer network that transmits a variety of data and media across interconnected devices. It works by using a packet router network that follows Internet Protocol (IP) and Transport Control Protocol (TCP).
Data sent over the internet is called “message.”
Before you can surf the internet, you need to connect your computer or tech device to the web through a modem or router. Here, the router allows for multiple devices to join the same network, while the modem connects them to your Internet service provider.
To make communication possible, there are elements involved in the relay of signals. Cables, routers, antennas, internet exchange points, and data centers – each have their own share in the transmission process.
As you might have guessed, common causes why your connection appears slow could be coming from any of the objects responsible for these signals. So if it’s not due to the router or modem, then it might have to do with signal strength on your cable line, or devices saturating your bandwidth. A slow DNS server can also cause your internet to slow down.
So let’s talk about some of the major reasons why you are experiencing slow internet from time to time.
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The Reasons Why Your Internet Is So Slow
1) You have too little Mbps
Mbps measures the speed of your internet connection like 15Mbps, 50Mbps…etc. In general, broadband speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mb Mbits p/s or Mbps). Bits are small units of data. With a megabit representing a million bits, it means the more Mbps (megabits per second) you have, the faster your online activity is expected.
Here’s a short guide of internet speed classification:
- 5 Mbps is the speed ideal in a casual work routine with minimal internet surfing or plainly watching videos. If you’re using your internet alone, the 5 Mbps should be enough to let you do all your online activities.
- 15–25 Mbps speeds are commonly used for business and commercial purposes as this range of connections is fast enough to handle the demands of daily work. While some find issues when using Ultra HD, the 25 Mbps plan is a good internet speed and the most popular plan catering to the new normal.
- 50-100 Mbps plans (or higher) usually are considered fast because they are relatively fast in handling multiple activities involving multiple users altogether. These speeds are recommended for those working or teaching at home, for people streaming, downloading music, or even for online gaming,
If you’re looking for faster internet speeds, talk to your provider as they might have a plan package for more bandwidth.
Tip: You can check your speed for free. Just type in “speed test” into your browser and select the first option for “speed Test” that comes up.
2) Your Wireless Signal is Unreliable
When the distance between the router and your wireless device is too large, there is a big chance of incompatibility. While most devices adapt with the router or with other WiFi networks, a device may not properly work with certain routers.
Wi-Fi networks that are within a closer range may also be operating on the same channel. It could also be that the WiFi network is overloaded with more and more devices connecting simultaneously to the same WiFi network. This is a common issue in urban areas as people living within the vicinity may have a bunch of wireless routers and other devices.
A home computer that is connected via a wired Ethernet cord may offer better performance – especially if you are teaching or working from home. The reason is that a wired network uses cables that connect desktop computers and laptops to the internet, whereas a wireless network connects devices but roam untethered to any wires.
In other words, a wired system offers a closed platform that can efficiently control variables. Wireless, on the other hand, provides an open system without control over the changes that may appear in the environment.
Tip: If you have a big home with plenty of rooms and you get weak Wi-Fi zones, a mesh network system can help. It’s a set-up with a main router and satellite hubs to cover multiple Wi-Fi access points and blankets your home with a strong internet connection. The mesh system also works for smaller homes.
3) Your router is already old
Routers also drain from heat stress. Imagine the heat this device is getting from working all day to connect all of your devices. This can even damage the wires and components inside. If your router has small holes or openings, then the easier it is to overheat.
Upgrading routers every three to four years is generally recommended to ensure that you’re getting the best performance. Other than that, newer devices get the fastest speeds at long distances. Today’s routers, in fact, are 20 times more powerful. Many modern routers also offer mesh networks, a construction that allows you to place multiple routers to offer a big interconnected wireless network around your home.
Also, see to it that you’re using an excellent home routing. Most below-average routers are likely not to function well. There are routers that are pushing the limits of current wireless technology, so you would want to find features that can help with how fast your connection actually performs.
If you’re using Gigabit internet, you need a router that can support it. There are faster routers you can buy with a tri-band network that can back around 40 or more connected devices without slowing down.
Tip: Place your router in the center of your home in an open area. On top of a table or the shelf is recommended than under a desk or anywhere with closed sides. It beams a clear signal when your router’s capacity to catch signal is not blocked or interfered with.
4) You need to reset your modem and router
Your modem is “on” 24 hours straight causing it to slowly desynchronize from the Internet Service Provider (ISP). This process causes the data sent and received over a network to become corrupt, thus requiring them to be re-sent. This action slows your speed. Unplugging the power cord from the back of the modem gives it the break or timeout.
Modems and routers can also get stuck in an overloaded state causing the bandwidth to and from your wireless devices to slow down. Resetting the modem forces it to pick up a less congested channel and allowing for a temporary increase in speed. This also includes digital TV services being transmitted over an internet connection.
Modems are split into speed tiers that are responsible for delegating the highest connection speed they can support. However, if you’re using an old or a low-tier modem at a high-speed, it still will connect to the web, but will not be receiving the full connection speed that it is supposed to be getting from your ISP. An outdated modem might also suppress your connection down to the slowest speed.
A quick solution is to reset your modem and router by turning them off and on again. If it continues to drop you out, it may be time to buy a new modem. Like your router, replacing a modem every two or three years is very important or it may turn too slow. You might want to check the other devices in your house as it might be due to a hardware problem.
To properly reboot your modem:
- Turn off your device.
- Unplug each power cord from their respective power outlets.
- See to it that all lights on your modem/router are turned OFF.
- After 1 minute, plug the power cords back in.
- Wait for the internet light to turn ON.
- Turn your device back ON.
- Try connecting to the internet again.
Tip: Refrain from pushing the reset button on the back of your modem to avoid confusing the system that may require a reconfiguration.
5) Your hardware may be the problem
Your internet speed depends on your network equipment so any limitation of your computer hardware can affect your downloading speed. Loose cables limit the amount of data you can download because it thwarts full access to your internet.
Multitasking while downloading is another thing. Transferring files while using other programs during the download process forces your hard drive to do too many things at once, causing things to slow down.
Not having enough RAM gives you a very slow transfer rate as your device will be maxing out the temporary memory. Malware infestation may also consume a significant amount of your computer’s memory and slow download times. Because it will utilize the resources intended for other programs, this can lead to sluggish performance of major applications.
If you are doing a lot of downloading, add more RAM to your system to provide more high-speed memory. This helps your device to refrain from having to resort to the much-slower virtual memory. In checking your hardware, resetting the modem and router (as explained above) helps.
Tip: Check if the internet speed on other devices is similarly slow. Many times, the problem lies on only one of your devices and not on your modem or router.
6) You might have to change the DNS server
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a fundamental point of the internet portal responsible for finding user searches. For example, when you type google.com or wikipedia.org, into your browser, DNS comes in by finding the correct IP addresses of those sites. In short, it helps you find what you are looking for on the web.
Browsers then communicate with origin servers to process and respond to the internet requests by accessing the website information or answering DNS queries. The contact and answer process makes your DNS server very busy in making connections to different addresses, causing them to slow or get overloaded.
Switching to another set of DNS servers is one way to improve and get better speed. Changing to a third-party DNS service also protects against uncertain DNS-based attacks. This change allows all your home network devices to use fast and secure DNS. Furthermore, an organized DNS also helps keep things running quickly and smoothly.
To give you an idea of how to change your DNS server, click here.
7) You have poor Mobile Coverage
Speed in mobile coverage largely depends on available networks. The mobile network capacity is shared by multiple users within the same network, and depending on the area’s peak hours of usage, the connection speed likewise is expected to slow down.
When you switch to mobile data, slow internet on your phone is not only because of the slow Wi-Fi. It could be the distance or how far you are from the nearest tower. Another is you are falling back to a slower 3G connection leaving you with no internet connection. Even the weather can contribute to a slow connection.
Most smartphones these days are already supported with 4G technology. Some of the latest ones even have higher or advanced category supports. You can access the internet on your smartphone using download speeds like 2G, 3G, 4G, or 5G connection.
- 4G network enables fast and high-speed connection offering speeds of around 14 Mbps and around 5 times faster than 3G.
- The 3G network has a 3.1 Mbps speed and used in a wider network but the signal varies due to traffic and distance from the cell tower.
- With 5G stretching 10 gigabits per second, it is up to 100 times faster than the 4G network and can deliver the highest performance for a densely-connected area.
- The GSM network is the most extensive pattern converting data into digital signals (SMS) between the rates 64 kbps and 120 kbps, but the data transfer speeds are very limited.
At these times where work, school, and everything else heavily runs on the internet, having a slow internet connection is something that can hamper time. Since it’s already possible to get the speed appropriate for your needs—you would want to do anything to speed up your connection.
Now that you know the reasons why your internet is so slow, you can start checking your speeds, or might as well upgrade your internet plan. You can also give your hardware the necessary fixes or reboots to increase the signal.
Of course, don’t forget that your hardware has its limitations. Understanding your computer needs will help resolve slow internet speeds and optimize your web for a good connection.
Have I missed something? How nice it would be if you can share anything else that can help resolve slow internet speed. Share them in the comments.