8 Reasons Why Your Internet is Slow (and How to Fix It) (2024)

More ways to speed up a slow internet connection

We provide some quick tips below to help speed up your internet connection. But if you’re ready to get to the bottom of your internet speed issues with some thorough troubleshooting, see our internet troubleshooting guide.

First, know your plan speed

You need to know how much speed you pay for each month and compare that number against the speed you’re actually getting now. Look on your paper bill or log in to your online account to see your plan’s advertised maximum speed.

Next, run a speed test and compare

Running a series of speed tests while connected to different points in your network can help you figure out where your speeds are slowing down. We’ll break the testing process down into two sections.

Part 1: Test the modem

Your first speed test is to see if you’re getting the correct speeds to your home compared with what you’re supposed to get from your internet provider. To get the most accurate results for your initial speed test, unplug your router from the modem and connect a computer to the same port on the modem using an Ethernet cable. If you have a wireless gateway, just plug it into one of the Ethernet ports.

Warning: We don’t recommend browsing the internet for extended periods of time without using a router. Your router has some excellent built-in security features that protect your network from viruses and malware.

This first test should give you results that are close to the speeds promoted with your plan. If not, try to track this issue over multiple days and times of day to establish a pattern. Contact your internet provider to talk about why you’re not getting the correct speeds if you continue to see lower than expected results.

Part 2: Test the router

If your modem isn’t the issue, the next step is to test the router. Plug the router back into the modem and run multiple speed tests using your wireless devices, and wired devices plugged into the router’s Ethernet ports.

If you see a vast difference between the modem and router tests, then your router is causing your connection slowdowns—or the Ethernet cable tethering your router to the modem.

Keep in mind that not all wireless devices experience identical speeds. Their connections depend on the hardware inside no matter what router you use, so a budget Samsung phone will have slower Wi-Fi speeds than an expensive wireless card plugged into your desktop.

To troubleshoot router problems, follow these steps:

Step 1: Unplug the router’s power, wait 30 seconds, and then plug it back in.

Step 2: Make sure all cables are connected securely and that all ports work.

Step 3: Update your router’s firmware. You can do this by logging in to your router’s web interface or mobile app. (Your ISP likely does this automatically, but it’s worth checking.)

Step 4: Reposition your router.

Step 5: Move wireless connections to the best Wi-Fi band.

Step 6: Change Wi-Fi channels in your router’s interface to find one that’s less crowded.

Step 7: Try a factory reset by pressing the reset button located on the back of your router.

If none of these steps work, you may need to upgrade to a newer or more powerful router. Internet tech advances rather quickly, and if your router is more than a few years old, it might be time to get yourself something more modern.If you’re looking for router-buying guidance, we have recommendations for the best long-range routers, the best modem and router combos, and the best routers for Xfinity.

Check for Wi-Fi dead zones

Wi-Fi problems can stem from multiple factors. It could be your router’s range, a crowded frequency channel or band, or signal interference caused by physical obstructions and other electronics.

You already know that you should place your router at a central and elevated location for the best coverage, so we’ll assume that you’ve already done that and pointed your antennas in the right direction.

Go to different areas of your house with a computer or smartphone and watch the Wi-Fi signal strength indicator. If you notice a lot of dead zones, you may need to move your router again (if they happen in areas where you normally need Wi-Fi) or invest in something to boost your Wi-Fi signal to that particular area. You can also make a Wi-Fi heatmap if you want to get more precise with it.

If you have more than a couple of issues with Wi-Fi dead zones, we recommend upgrading to a mesh networking kit. They usually ship with at least two nodes—one that connects to your modem and another that communicates directly with the first unit—to create a ”blanket” of coverage. There’s no centralized point, and you can easily add more nodes to extend coverage. Moreover, devices seamlessly switch between nodes as you move about the home or office.

If you prefer to stick with the traditional router, you could add a Wi-Fi extender or powerline adapter, However, we still prefer mesh router kits versus the router/extender setup.

Reorganize your Wi-Fi connections

If you’ve already pruned your Wi-Fi connections of unnecessary devices, it’s time to make sure all active connections are on the correct Wi-Fi band.

Most modern routers offer two Wi-Fi bands, which each create their own visible Wi-Fi network. By default, these are usually labeled with their frequency bands, but it might be different if you’ve changed your Wi-Fi network’s name.

These bands operate on two different frequencies: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz frequency band has a better range, but it’s slower and more susceptible to signal interference from other electronics. The 5 GHz band is faster but can’t travel as far.

Basically, you want to use the 5 GHz band for most bandwidth-heavy applications like streaming or gaming. Devices that don’t need that much speed—like smart home devices—should use the 2.4 GHz band instead.

Typically, you can change the Wi-Fi band each device uses by logging in to the correct Wi-Fi network on each device. However, some routers broadcast only one network name and automatically selects the best frequency band for your device. This can be problematic if you really need the faster 5 GHz connection, but the router forces your device to use the 2.4 GHz band.

Change your Wi-Fi band’s channel

Changing your router’s channel is a standard troubleshooting suggestion, but it may not work, and here’s why.

All three frequency bands are divided into small 20 MHz channels, and routers combine these channels to make larger ones. Most modern Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 devices use 80 MHz channels when they connect to the 5 GHz band for the most speed, so routers use these by default.

The thing is, routers only list the smaller channels, so you may run a Wi-Fi diagnostics app and see that channel 36 is clear for you to use, but in reality, it’s probably being used by a neighboring network that, like yours, combines channels 36, 40, 44, and 48 to create one 80 MHz channel.

If that’s the case, your best bet is to select one of the higher 5 GHz channels (if they’re available to you) and hope for the best. Most standalone routers allow you to change the channel in the web interface or mobile app, but you usually can’t change the channel on a mesh system.

Check connected devices

As we mentioned before, sometimes the issue isn’t with your internet connection—it’s with the smartphone, computer, or tablet you’re using to access the internet. It may need a reboot, it may be outdated, or you have too many apps and programs open, bogging down the device’s processor.

Manage your network

If you’ve made it this far and you’re still experiencing problems with slow internet speeds, run through the tips in the home network traffic section of this post if you haven’t already.

Your speed issues most likely stem from your internet provider’s reliability or the traffic on your own home network. Even if you’ve organized and trimmed down your number of connected devices, you could still not have enough bandwidth at certain times of day to cover everything your network has to handle. The only solution to this is to either use the internet less or get a faster internet plan.

8 Reasons Why Your Internet is Slow (and How to Fix It) (2024)

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