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Top 10 Reasons for Slow Internet

By Paula Novo
September 15, 2020

There’s nothing quite as frustrating as waiting for Netflix to buffer…. ten times in the same night. If you constantly find yourself asking, “Why is my internet so slow?!”, while waiting for movies or websites to fully load, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing one of these top 10 reasons for slow internet. We’ve compiled a list of common causes for poor connectivity below to help you turn your internet experience around for the better. Let’s get started on how to identify (and fix) your slow internet connection. 

Top 10 Reasons for Slow Internet

  1. Equipment Location
  2. Furniture Obstructions
  3. Open Network
  4. Full Browser History
  5. Rarely Restart Your Router
  6. Distance Between Devices
  7. Old Devices
  8. ISP Throttling
  9. Too Many Connected Devices
  10. Not Enough Bandwidth

 

1. Equipment Location

equipment-location-wifi-router-placed-in-living-room

Right now, where is your router and/or modem located in your home? If the answer is behind your entertainment system, or on the floor of a multi-story home, you’ll want to consider relocating your internet equipment. Similar to a lamp, a router and modem both need space of their own to perform at their maximum effectiveness. 

Quick Fix: Relocate Your Equipment

Depending on the layout of your home, there are a few different spots we recommend placing your equipment. If you live in a one-story home, the best place for your router would be in the center of the house away from other chords or large pieces of furniture. If you live in a multi-story home, it is best to place your router on the highest level as WiFi signal travels downward better than upward. Aside from that, it’s best to place your equipment on the highest level of furniture in your home, off the floor, and as far away as possible from highly-wired areas like your TV or computer station. This helps eliminate potential signal interference.

2. Furniture Obstructions

living-room-furniture-obstructions

In conjunction with your equipment location, it’s possible that the arrangement of your furniture is affecting your internet connection. Assuming you are using a router to connect to the internet, your device relies on a WiFi signal which travels in waves. These waves travel best when there are no obstacles blocking their path. Sometimes, slow internet is as much a result of your decorating as it is the placement of your equipment. 

Quick Fix: Rearrange Your Furniture

With a bit of rearranging, you can significantly improve the performance of your internet. You want to place your furniture in spots throughout your house that create an optimal environment for your network equipment to function properly. Consider moving larger pieces of furniture like couches, desks, and beds to the exterior walls of your home. In addition, you want to ensure that your router is placed in a central, open space with the least amount of walls in its path.

3. Open Network

entering-wifi-password-on-phone-open-network

If you’re running low on bandwidth, or what’s commonly interpreted as “internet speed,” it might be because you have an open network. An open network is a network that anyone within signal range can access. This is bad for two reasons: 1) the more devices connected to your network, the less bandwidth available, and 2) your network is left vulnerable to cyber attacks and malware. Both lead to slow internet speed.

Quick Fix: Create a WiFi Password

One quick and easy solution to this problem is to create a password for your network. This allows you to limit the number of devices that can access your personal network, which in turn conserves the bandwidth you pay for. We recommend using a complex series of 8+ upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers for this password, and encourage you to update it at least once every 3-6 months.

4. Full Browser History

full-browser-history

The most obvious - yet easily forgettable - mistake people make when using the internet is filling up their browser history. As you visit different websites, your browser intuitively collects and saves bits of data about your browsing history for marketers to use in retargeting ads and online tracking. Users frequently forget to clear their browsing history, which in turn causes your browser to use up more bandwidth than normal. This could be the cause of your slow internet.

Quick Fix: Clear Your Browser History

A simple fix is to clear your entire browser history including cookies and cached websites on a regular basis. This applies to all devices that have browser capabilities. If this is the cause of your slow internet experience, you could notice pages loading faster immediately after doing so.

5. Rarely Restart Your Router

outlet-timer-for-plugs

*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, HighSpeedOptions will earn a commission if you click and make a purchase.

Like our bodies, electronics need regular maintenance and rest to function at peak capacity. If you’re experiencing slower internet speeds, it may be your devices signaling to your that they need a break.

Quick Fix: Restart Your Router

Your modem translates internet signals between your home network and ISP, and your router works to transmit connectivity requests and data from your connected devices. Restarting both is an easy way to troubleshoot slow internet issues and refresh their connections. What’s more, it only takes about two minutes. We recommend performing this task on a monthly basis by either setting a reminder on your phone or using an outlet timer to automatically reset plugged-in devices for specific outlets.

6. Distance Between Devices

phone-next-to-wifi-router-distance-between-devices

Have you ever noticed that the further away you are from your router, the worse your connection gets? This is because WiFi signals slowly weaken and dissipate as they travel farther from the source. In addition to the distance between devices, other physical barriers like furniture and walls all work negatively against the overall performance of your internet speeds.

Quick Fix: Invest in WiFi Extenders

It’s unrealistic to expect you to purchase all new furniture or knock down walls. However, there is one solution that can help strengthen your slow internet connection. Investing in WiFi extenders throughout your home is a simple way to ensure you have Whole-Home WiFi. They help extend WiFi signals in hard-to-reach areas of your home, so you can enjoy the maximum benefits of your internet service.

7. Old Devices

old-devices-flip-phone-and-computer-keyboard

This is a hard one for many to accept. We grow attached to our devices, and while some stand in line for the latest gadgets to hit shelves, many people stick with what isn’t broken. When it comes to electronics, however, this can cause problems down the line. Technology is evolving every day, and with that, older models are discontinued. Older devices typically cannot support faster networks, causing typical latency issues or no connectivity at all. 

Quick Fix: Upgrade Your Devices

While upgrading does come with a price tag, there are many affordable options for newer devices today. There are even programs like Apply Trade-In and Best Buy Trades where you can trade in older devices for credit to be applied to a new purchase. Once you upgrade your device, you are likely to see a drastic improvement in your internet experience.

8. ISP throttling

girl-staring-at-computer-frustrated-isp-throttling

Depending on what internet service provider (ISP) you subscribe to, your poor connection may be in part due to ISP throttling. This is where a provider intentionally slows down internet speeds in an attempt to regulate network traffic and prevent bandwidth congestion. It’s typical of providers that issue data caps on their internet service, however, not all providers throttle speeds.

Quick Fix: Upgrade Your Data Allowance

If your internet provider includes data caps on your internet service, you may consider upgrading your plan to unlimited data. To explore current options available near you, enter your zip code in here.

9. Too Many Connected Devices 

family-on-too-many-devices

All devices on a single network – no matter if they’re wired or wireless – share a finite amount of bandwidth. Your WiFi router determines which devices need bandwidth and which devices use up the most, pulling randomly from each to ensure all devices have some form of connection. So, as you connect more devices to your network, you run the risk of using up all your subscribed bandwidth and overloading your internet equipment. This leads to latency issues and a poor user experience.

Quick Fix: Disconnect Devices Not in Use

Try disconnecting devices throughout your house that are not currently being used. Keep your smart fridge and security system connected, but consider disconnecting things like your Roomba, bathroom WiFi-enabled speakers, and TV you rarely switch on. This is one fix you will see immediate results from after decreasing your connected device count.

10. Not Enough Bandwidth

kids-using-tablets-on-couch-not-enough-bandwidth

If disconnecting devices isn’t an option for you, it may be time to upgrade your internet plan to include faster speeds. The most common cause for slow internet is people not having enough bandwidth to keep up with their digital needs. Different internet activities require different amounts of bandwidth, and no matter what you do, there’s always a limit depending on what you pay for.

Quick Fix: Upgrade Your Internet Plan

Depending on your internet provider, consider upgrading your internet plan to include higher speeds to fit your lifestyle. Make sure to factor in things like how many people live in your home, how many connected devices you typically have, and how often the internet gets used when deciding which plan is right for you.

To see what internet plans and prices different providers offer near you, enter your zip code below to browse current availability.

Enter your zipcode to see providers near you

Written By
Paula Novo

Paula began her career in the telecom space, writing on all things tech for 3+ years. With a degree in Advertising from The University of Texas at Austin, Paula’s passion for connecting with consumers is unparalleled. Beyond that, Paula is considered a Jane-of-all-trades who loves DIY projects, attempts to cook Thai food, and photographs brands in her spare time.

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