Why is the internet so slow? If you haven’t found yourself asking this question, count yourself lucky. Slow internet is surprisingly common, and it can happen for a variety of reasons. While there are certain quick fixes you can do on your own, there are many instances in which you may need the help of professionals. If you find that you’ve tried just about everything and your internet is still moving at a snail’s pace, consider reaching out to the experts at Geeker for help.
So, why is your internet slower than usual? What are some of the easiest ways to fix slow WiFi? Is it more important to increase the download speed or upload speed? Finally, what are some technical methods to improve internet speeds directly on your computer or mobile device? In this guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at some of the most common reasons for slow internet:
Common Reasons For Slow Internet
Before you can hope to solve issues related to slow internet, you must understand the underlying causes. Some of the most common causes for slow internet are beyond your control or, at the very least, not easily fixable. For example, where you live can determine both the speed of your internet and the availability of different internet service providers (ISPs). Rural areas tend to have slower speeds and fewer options than more densely populated towns and cities. Alternatively, some issues just require you to make some quick changes. For instance, if you’re trying to use your computer too far away from your router, the WiFi signal will be weak. You can just move closer to your router to fix this issue.
In any case, here are some of the most common reasons that your internet is not as fast as you would like it to be:
- Outdated devices
- Geographic location
- Type of internet connection (cable, DSL, satellite, fiber optic, etc.)
- Limited RAM on your device
- Physical distance from your WiFi source
- Physical obstructions blocking your WiFi signal
- Browser add-ons and plugins
- Host server issues
- Congested network (too many data requests at the same time)
- High latency
- ISPs throttling your speeds
- Spyware or Viruses
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to speed up your internet without much technical know-how. Here are some of the most straightforward solutions to try first:
- Update operating systems, web browsers, and programs
- Reduce the number of devices connected to the same network
- Move closer to your router
- Reset your router
- Switch from WiFi to a wired internet connection
Though these fixes could quickly fix your slow internet problems, there is no guarantee that they will work. You may try all of these options and still find that your internet is moving slowly. To speed up your internet, you’ll need to try some technical solutions on your computer. But before we discuss some of these solutions, let’s examine what “slow” internet really means.
What Qualifies As “Slow” Internet?
Calling your internet “slow” is relatively subjective. What seems slow to one person may seem relatively fast to someone else. However, for the sake of simplicity, your internet might be considered slow if you cannot complete everyday tasks without delays. For example, let’s say that you want to stream your favorite TV show. If you’re able to stream video without any interruptions, your internet is likely fast enough to meet your needs. On the other hand, if the TV show will only load when you reduce the video quality or frequently needs to buffer, you’ll want to figure out how to speed up your connection.
Generally, there are three metrics that you’ll need to know: download speeds, upload speeds, and latency (ping). Download speed dictates how quickly data can be transferred from the internet to your computer. This could include browsing the internet, streaming videos, listening to music, or downloading files.
Upload speed dictates how quickly data can be transferred from your computer to the internet. This can include sending large pieces of data over the internet, backing up files to the Cloud, or posting photos or videos on social media. While upload speed is often considered less important than download speed, both are needed for many common types of internet use like online gaming.
Finally, latency (also known as ping) refers to the amount of time it takes for data to travel from one point in a network to another. Your internet plan and type of internet connection are some of the biggest factors that can affect latency. For example, satellite internet connections tend to have high latency (slow), while fiber optic internet tends to have low latency (fast). Even if your download and upload speeds are fast, high latency can still cause your internet to feel slow.
When it comes to the numbers, there are no exact figures to determine if your internet is fast or slow. That said, the higher your download and upload speeds, the better. Conversely, lower latency is best if you want a faster, more seamless internet experience. You should generally try to have download speeds of at least 10 Mbps per person in your household and 5 Mbps per person to enjoy most internet-based activities. Additionally, latency below 60 ms is usually fast enough to manage data-heavy activities like online gaming without significant delays or lagging.
5 Ways to Increase Your Internet Speed
Now that you know a bit more about which metrics to pay attention to, let’s look at a few ways to increase your internet speeds right from your computer:
Reallocate Internet Bandwidth
In Windows 10 or 11, your Operating System reserves a certain percentage of your internet bandwidth for Windows updates, license renewals, and similar tasks. While you do want some bandwidth to remain for these “Quality of Service” actions, you can manage these settings on Windows computers to dedicate more bandwidth to tasks that you deem important. You can use the built-in Group Policy Editor to manage and reallocate internet bandwidth. The Group Policy Editor is typically located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder.
Scan For Spyware or Malware
Spyware and malware can make your computer run slower in general. This can directly affect your ability to use the internet without substantial wait times. To get rid of any malicious software, you’ll first need to scan your machine. Here are the steps to scan for malware, spyware, and viruses on both Windows and Mac:
- Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security
- Select “Virus & Threat Protection”
- In the “Current Threats” tab, select Quick Scan
Mac computers used a built-in program called XProtect to scan for and stop malware. This means you don’t have to take any extra steps to scan for viruses on your Mac. However, keep in mind that XProtect may not catch every possible kind of malicious software. So, if you have a Mac and want to be sure that it’s not being slowed down by spyware or malware, contact Geeker for a more comprehensive analysis.
Stop Applications Running In the Background
Your computer uses Random Access Memory (RAM) to store short-term memory as needed. Using more applications will require your computer to use more of its available RAM. If the available RAM gets too low, your computer will slow down and make it harder to use the internet. Shutting down unnecessary applications in the background can free up RAM and allow your computer to run at full speed. Here’s how to shut down background apps on Windows and Mac:
- Select the Task Manager
- In the Processes tab, click on the “Network” column
- Switch off any unnecessary applications using your network
- Click on the Startup tab and disable any startup applications not used.
- In the Finder, go to Applications
- Click on the Utilities folder and open “Activity Monitor”
- Double-click on applications you want to stop using and select “Quit”
Turn Off the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Update
The P2P update is a feature in Windows 10 that can seriously slow down your computer. It is intended to make system updates faster, but it does so by using up bandwidth and slowing down your internet speed. Follow these steps to disable the P2P update feature:
- Open the Start menu and select “Settings”
- Select “Update & Security”
- Choose the “Delivery Optimization” tab
- Turn off “Allow downloads from other PCs”
Select a Faster DNS Server
Sometimes, the default DNS server is not the best option. You can quickly check if your DNS server is slowing down your internet by switching to a new one. Here are the steps to switch DNS servers on Windows and Mac:
- Press the Windows and R keys to open the Run utility
- Enter “control” to open the Control Panel
- Go to Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center
- On the left, click “Change Adapter Settings”
- Right-click on your connection and choose “Properties”
- Choose “TCP/IPv4” and click on “Properties”
- Select “Use the following DNS Server Address”
- Type in the DNS server you want to use (188.8.131.52 in the first row and 184.108.40.206 in the second row is a popular option)
- Click “OK” to finalize your DNS server
- Go to Apple Menu > System Settings > Network
- After selecting the network service, go to Details > DNS
- Here you can choose from a list of available DNS servers
Need help from dependable IT experts? Reach out to Geeker today for on-demand IT and software solutions!