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Why Is My Internet So Slow? Questions, Answers & Solutions

Slow internet speeds are the bane of the modern man. If the question “why is my internet so slow” is one thing you often ask, you’re not alone. After all, internet access is now a basic human right. So you deserve to at least have access to respectable speeds, yes? But alas, that is not the case as with every.

google on screen
picture by 377053 for pixabay.com

 

This guide aims to try and explain what happens when your internet starts to crawl. Read on to know which things you can do for both desktop and mobile connections. Whether it’s mobile data, WiFi, or LAN, let’s try to figure out what happens. If you want to know what is a good internet speed for downloading stuff, we have a guide that aims to help you out.

 

Sudden Slowdowns

why is my internet so slow? the man asks
photo from Imgflip

 

There are several situations where internet speeds drop. But most of the time, it happens all of a sudden. Picture this: you’re enjoying blazing download speeds on Steam one day. That 46 GB game? Over in a few minutes, says the download manager. But then, it drops. 20Mbps down to 15, 10, 1, and even to a disgraceful kilobytes/second.

Varied reasons cause sudden slowdowns. Here are some and how they affect your internet’s overall speed.

 

ISP Issues

Your internet service provider might be the culprit. Opting for a typical ISP’s services means you’ll be using hardware that they provide. It’s natural to assume that the modems they install are sub-par, basic hardware. It’s why you can buy better modems on the market today.

  • Bad modems are something you can expect from ISPs. There are times when their technicians would install crappy, used hardware. Why? Simple. Brand new hardware costs companies money, and they want to make money. But while this is a true situation for some, you can’t always expect this to be the case.
why is my internet so slow? probably your modem
photo by Peggy_Marco for pixabay.com

 

  • Your internet plan might be not fast at all. Are you on cable or fiber? Or God forbid, still on dial-up? If it’s the latter, dude. It’s no longer the 90s. But if it’s the first two, then figure out which plan you’re using. The rule of thumb is simple: fiber is often faster than cable. Check if your plan is either of the two first before figuring out other options.
  • When it comes to WiFi, ask your ISP an important question. Are they using one of these three modem types: 802.11ac, 802.11n, or 802.11g? The first one is the fastest at around 50 to 80Mbps. Sweet, sweet, Mbps for all your massive downloads. That’s well and good. But if it’s the third one, you can only have 5 to 15Mbps at most. So which does your ISP use on its lines? Ask and upgrade if you got the slower one.

 

Human Error

lady biting pencil
photo by JESHOOTS-com for pixabay.com

 

Don’t shoot the messenger, bub. Maybe the sudden internet slowdown is your fault after all. Almost everything uses the internet these days and some can eat up a ton of bandwidth. And what’s annoying is, closing them doesn’t always mean you shut them down for good. It’s like Skype but way more annoying.

  • Background apps on your smartphone, tablet, or computer can use up a ton of bandwidth. For instance, if you like downloading movies via torrent clients, shut that thing down! Torrent clients hog bandwidth because they seed all finished downloads for God-knows-how-long.
bittorrent logo
photo from Get Into PC

 

  • You’re not giving your router a breather. Routers are machines, and thus prone to wear and tear. Give your router a little TLC by shutting it off for a few minutes and turning it back on. Sure, it’s the old “have you tried turning it off and on again” question, but it does solve problems. Believe it or not.
  • You’re using an old, beat-up router. Consider getting an upgrade! Routers and modems aren’t too expensive and you can get a new, better one for a reasonable price. You can buy either of the two or get a combo bundle, like the Netgear Cablemodem CM500 here. Check out this router on Amazon and see improvements with your connection speed.
modem from amazon
photo from Amazon

 

  • Why is my internet so slow, you ask? Somebody’s leeching off of your connection. Maybe you didn’t put a strong enough password for your WiFi when you set it up. Or you didn’t even change the default password at all. Anyone can eat up a ton of your bandwidth under your nose, so make sure your connection is secure. Or ask people to log out for a while, more so if you’re doing something important that needs fast internet.
  • Your router or modem is in the wrong area. Take it out to where it’s more open so the WiFi signal can move unhindered. If it’s behind a thick concrete wall or inside a secluded room, bring it out to a wide-open common room. It’s not rocket science: the farther you are from your router, the slower the internet. So give it space to broadcast the signal.
why is my internet so slow? your router's signal is getting blocked
photo from FlatIcon

 

  • Check if your device is restricting bandwidth usage (aka power-saving mode). Change your phone’s power plan into default and see if it works. The same thing goes with your laptop or any other portable digital device. Power saving mode limits your device’s capability to work at full tilt.

 

Fast Internet, Slow Downloads

Who doesn’t love fast downloads? An entire TV series or a massive game and have them downloaded in minutes, if not seconds. There is a poetic beauty in seeing something as big as 50GB get downloaded that fast. It’s the modern equal of being a giddy kid in a candy or toy store. And then you ask yourself “why is my internet so slow?!” like a crazy person.

watching on phone
photo by mohamed_hassan for pixabay.com

 

But then the download speed is too slow even if you can stream live video at 4K. It’s even more infuriating to know that the fastest plans can give you pitiful download speeds. So what in the world is going on?

 

Things You Should Know About Download Speeds

ISPs advertise speeds on their marketing. That’s automatic, yeah? Say, you see a flyer which says you get 100Mbps speed if you opt for this plan. Sounds great, you tell yourself. So you opt for that plan and have it installed.

But when you download a video or grab a file, the speed doesn’t even touch 5Mbps. You can feel like they’re cheating you, but hold your horses before going nuts. Here are a few things you should know when it comes to this specific situation.

  • Mbps as the ISP says on its flyers are different from the Mbps on your computer when you download. On the ISP side, Mbps means megabits per second. We quantify digital information in bits. 1 bit is the smallest. 100 megabits are equal to about 10.5 million bits.
  • Mbps on your computer mean megabytes per second and this is different. Again, different. Bytes and bits differ in that, one byte is equal to 8 bits. So by that, do the computation. A 100 Mbps connection divided by 8 (for the number of bits in a byte) gives 12.5. You’d want something faster than that for enjoyable downloads.
diskettes on surface
photo by padrinan for pixabay.com

 

Cable Or Fiber?

The most basic reasons for this are often things you already know. Too many users, background downloads, etcetera. But your plan might be the reason your downloads are so pitiful in the first place.

lan cable
photo by doctor-a for pixabay.com

 

Cable internet offers speeds between 10 to 500 megabits a second. That’s quite acceptable, yes? At its absolute best, you can have download speeds at a respectable 60-70 Mbps. As for fiber, the speed upgrade is so massive it’s almost comical. You can expect 250 to 1000 Mbps, with download speeds often in the hundred Mbps range. 125 Mbps average download speeds? Juicy.

 

Slow Servers

It’s not only the connection that can slow down your download speed. Your ISP might allow you to have as much as 125 Mbps, some servers can’t handle that much. Website servers sometimes put download speed limits due to varying reasons. But one of the main reasons is that developers want to limit simultaneous downloads.

 

Why Is My Internet So Slow On Mobile?

using smartphone
photo by Pexels for pixabay.com

 

You have a smartphone, don’t you? Then you have an idea about how infuriating this is. Picture: you’re traveling and without a reliable WiFi connection. Your only option is mobile data. You’re in the middle of doing a live blog on your social media, and then poof. The stream stops because the signal is too weak.

 

What Are the Different Gs

mobile data types
photo by ADMC for pixabay.com

 

As you may know, data connections aren’t all the same. 2G is the slowest of them all, at a meager 0.1 Mbps average speed. Increasing generations means faster connections. 3G is faster, then 4G, and 4G LTE. 5G is going to be faster, but still in development. So if your phone internet starts to crawl, check if you have an early version of mobile data. Here is a quick overview:

 

2G

Characterized by the icons G or E on your screen, 2G is, again, the slowest at a mere 0.1 megabits per second. E is faster at around 0.3, but this isn’t much. And you’re gonna pull some hairs out trying to use this older generation of mobile internet.

 

3G

If you have this, you’ll get the icons 3G, H, or H+ on your screen. Speed varies between 0.3 megabits to about 8 megabits per second. Respectable, compared to what you get with the older 2G option.

 

4G/4G+

This is the current generation of mobile data that we use. If your phone uses it, you’ll see the 4G or 4G+ icon on your screen. It’s the next best thing to WiFi when it comes to connection speed. You’ll get around 24 to 60 megabits per second, enough to do whatever it is you need or want to do on the web.

 

Operator Limits

cell tower foreground
photo by Diermaier for pixabay.com

 

Your phone can achieve great mobile data speeds, sure. But it doesn’t always mean it will be able to. This is because some mobile operators put speed limits on their infrastructure. For example, UK mobile data is slow because infrastructures are out of date. Without hardware upgrades, mobile data will remain sluggish. It’s why you keep asking “why is my internet so slow” every single time.

 

Why Is My Internet So Slow At Night?

You’re chilling at home, streaming How I Met Your Mother on Netflix in 4K ultra HD. Nothing can ever be better than this, right? But then, your internet decides to be a killjoy. Your 4K stream goes down to 1440p, then 1080p, and God forbid, 720p. So what in the blazes is happening? The answer: internet rush hour.

why is my internet so slow at night?
photo by overjupiter for pixabay.com

 

Internet slowdowns often occur between 6 and 10 PM. As you can see, it’s the time when people are on their way home from work, or already at home chilling. These days, what do you usually do when you come home tired? Relax by accessing the web to do whatever. Watch movies, stream music, play video games, etcetera. So it makes sense that the internet slows down because millions of people are logging on at the same time.

 

Avoiding The Internet Rush Hour

Your solution to the nighttime slowdown is simple. For instance, if you love watching videos at night, download them during off-peak hours. You can then watch them offline later. That way, you get to watch them at their best screen resolutions without relying on streaming. As for other stuff like social media browsing, you don’t need that much bandwidth for that anyway.

If you’re an avid online gamer, avoid playing during the rush hour as much as possible. Too much traffic can mean more disconnections from your game. And you of all people know how annoying it is to be slapped a temporary ban from going AFK too much. It’s not even your fault that you’re going AFK, or that your connection is lagging.

mechanical keyboard closeup
photo by tianya1223 for pixabay.com

 

Or if none of these help you with your problem, your best option is to upgrade your plan or switch ISPs. Opt for a faster internet connection if you don’t mind paying for it a bit more. A faster connection such as fiber can do much to circumvent the internet rush hour.

 

ISP Slowdowns

These ISPs are among the best today, but even they aren’t exempt from bog downs. If you’re subscribed to either of these providers, don’t fret. The next time you ask “why is my internet so slow”, make sure to read and determine whichever applies to you.

 

Verizon

why is my internet so slow verizon
photo from Entrepreneur

 

Among the most popular providers today, Verizon’s speeds are more than enough to cater to your needs. You can get as much as 880 Mbps with its top-tier gigabit plan, but slowdowns aren’t uncommon. Here’s what you can do to troubleshoot your connection speed.

  • Go to verizon.com/speedtest to test your broadband and WiFi speed. This can help determine the cause of slowdowns between wired and wireless connections.
  • If your speed isn’t as fast as it needs to be, go to this troubleshooter. Click next.
  • Select the image that corresponds to your router. You will be given specific troubleshooting instructions based on your router model. Most of the time, you’ll need to restart the router.
  • After the restart, go back to the speed test and see if there’s an improvement.
  • If the restart doesn’t help, contact Verizon for technical assistance. It means you might need a plan or hardware upgrade.

 

Spectrum

why is my internet so slow spectrum?
photo from TechHive

 

To Spectrum subscribers, you must consider several things if your internet slows down. Here are some steps you can take to restore your connection speeds.

  • Shut down any file sharing apps like torrent downloaders, because they use a ton of data. Often in the background, too. So make sure you shut the program down and not only close the window.
  • Run a virus scan to see if there’s any malware leeching off of your internet.
  • Reset your firewall to default settings. A strict firewall can hamper internet speeds due to high filtration.
why is my internet so slow? maybe it's your tough firewall
photo by rupixen for pixabay.com

 

Also, try to see if your computer satisfies the system requirements. To allow optimal performance from your connection, your computer must have:

  • Windows: Windows 7 or later, an 802.11N router for speeds around 300 Mbps, or an 802.11 C router to exceed 300 Mbps. Also, you’ll need a 1 Gbps full-duplex Network Interface Card or NIC.
  • Mac: OSX 10.6 or later, and the same type of router as with the Windows requirements

 

You can also try resetting your equipment online. Most of the time, equipment resets work like a charm. Here’s how to do it:

  • Go to Spectrum.net and sign in with your account details.
  • Find the Account Summary tab and select Services.
  • Select “Internet” from the Services & Equipment tab.
  • Find your router model, click, and select “Experiencing Issues?”
  • Click “Reset Equipment.”

 

Comcast/Xfinity

why is my internet so slow comcast?
photo from Logo Discovery Engine

Writer Harry Kazianis for The National Interest reveals something about Comcast/Xfinity. He says that every router that they install in homes also function as WiFi hotspots. Other subscribers and even non-subscribers can apparently access this with few issues. As with common causes of internet slowdowns, more people on a network cause it to bog down.

You have two solutions. One is to turn off the hotspot feature. You can do this by going to Xfinity and logging into your account. Find the option for the hotspot in your account settings, then turn it off. Or you can opt for its newest Wi-Fi 6 router, which doesn’t have the hotspot feature at all.

 

Final Thoughts

using internet on ipad
photo by fancycrave1 for pixabay.com

 

There are so many ways to troubleshoot and avoid slow internet these days. You only need to look for the one that fits your current situation. Since internet access is now a basic human right, you at least deserve a page that loads up in a jiffy.

Raphel

Raphel

Gamer, tech junkie, and overall a nerd who thinks he's cool

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