A slow internet connection can bring everything in your home to a standstill. Videos take forever to load, online games become unplayable, and download files barely move. You look up those articles explaining what is a good internet speed for gaming only to find out that your internet speed is nowhere near those numbers.
As frustrating as this problem is, there are several ways you can boost your internet speed if you know the cause of the problem.
In this article, you’ll learn some of the most common culprits that cause your internet to drag its heels. Moreover, you’ll learn simple but effective ways to boost speeds and ensure the best connection possible.
Seven causes of a slow internet connection
Below are seven common issues with internet speeds that you should investigate. With each point, we’ll suggest a course of action that can help you prevent a slow connection.
1. Using out-of-date drivers, firmware, or cheap routers
As internet providers offer higher and higher internet speeds, you need to ensure devices like your router can handle it. Unfortunately, like all gadgets, the router has a lifespan. As the months and years go on, it may become sluggish and inefficient.
Unsurprisingly, cheaper, lower-ranged routers will age much quicker. They may only be able to handle small tasks, such as checking emails and web browsing, and have a maximum speed limit far less than your internet package can deliver.
Investing in a high-quality router is recommended. This way, you can do data-intensive activities like streaming videos, online gaming, or downloading large files without any stops, stalls, or buffering and get the best possible value out of your internet.
2. Data-hungry applications and devices
Homes and workplaces are busy places. Nowadays, so many devices require an internet connection to work. Many of these may quietly gobble up your bandwidth, even when left on standby.
Culprits include smart appliances, gaming consoles, PCs, and laptops, which may download updates in the background or have an application connected to the internet.
Many routers have built-in data monitoring that allows you to check what devices are connected and how much data they use at any given time. Modern routers may even allow you to restrict access and set limits on devices to reduce the strain placed on your router when you need it most.
3. Data throttling
If your video stream is buffering too much or online games lag, you may be experiencing data throttling. This is when your internet service provider (ISP) reduces your connection’s speed and stability to conserve their network resources.
When an ISP detects you’re engaging in high-data activities, they reduce your service and cap your connection, especially during the evening when there’s a high chance of congestion on the network.
An easy way to avoid data throttling is using a virtual private network (VPN). Using a VPN not only enhances security but also encrypts your connection, hiding online activity from your ISP.
An ISP will be less inclined to penalize your bandwidth because they cannot know what you’re doing online. By taking out a VPN free trial, you can compare speeds to see if your connection’s speed and stability improve.
4. Too much cache
We use web browsers daily to surf the internet. Over time, this usage can significantly impact your internet connection. This is because browsers often collect small packets of temporary data, known as cache, which are used to speed up the loading times of websites we’ve visited.
That sounds great, right? Well, over time, the size of your cache can grow enormous and have the opposite effect on your PC, slowing it down and preventing pages from loading. Ultimately, it will reduce the speed of your internet. As such, you should regularly delete your browser cache to ensure it doesn’t meddle with your internet speed.
5. Potential malware or virus infection
Malware infections can derail your PC or router, forcing it to make malicious requests that spread infection to other devices. It can redirect your browser traffic and lead to intrusive advertising. This can hog vital computer resources that slow down your computer’s performance.
Additionally, viruses can affect internet speeds, as many will replicate themselves hundreds (sometimes thousands) of times via email or file-sharing. This can put enormous stress on your devices and drastically lower internet speeds.
Devices can become infected by downloading malicious files and clicking on suspicious links. Routers can become compromised if a hacker breaks the administrator password, allowing them unfettered access to all connections.
You must have antivirus protection and a firewall to protect your device and connections. Remember to scan your systems periodically for suspicious files and update your software to avail of the latest protections.
6. Lack of regular updates
You should ensure that your PC drivers and router’s firmware are regularly updated. This will not only protect you from malware and fix any potential bugs but also improve the speed and stability of your internet connection.
Network drivers control how your PC connects to the internet. Updating them gives your PC all the information it needs to perform optimally and keep up-to-speed with the router.
Likewise, a router’s firmware ensures it can deliver the best possible signal to devices. To update your router’s firmware, type your router’s IP address into a web browser and log in using the information supplied by your ISP. On the admin panel, check for any firmware updates, download and install them, log in, and update it on the admin panel.
7. Interference with your Wi-Fi signals
Wi-Fi allows us to connect to the internet by sending out radio waves. Unfortunately, many things around our home and workplace can compete with this signal, considerably reducing its effectiveness and speed.
Things that can impact Wi-Fi signals include smart appliances, Bluetooth devices, cell phones, and monitors. Physical barriers, such as thick furniture, dense walls, or metal surfaces, might also reduce Wi-Fi.
Consider repositioning your router to free it from any nearby interference. You can test your internet connection speed in different rooms to see if there are any extreme changes and install Wi-Fi extenders to improve the signal strength in specific rooms.
You could also connect your PC or laptop to your router via an ethernet cable, providing you with the fastest speeds possible. If speeds are still slow, then you’ll know the issue is not with Wi-Fi interference.