There's one thing everyone in today's world can agree on: slow internet is annoying.
A slow connection is an inconvenience at best, causing sluggish page loading and choppy audio and video playback speeds. At worst, it can affect your work pace by interfering with computer performance. Maybe you've tried everything you know in order to correct your slow PC or mobile device. Or maybe you just don't know how to speed up slow internet.
Don't worry: there's a solution. Actually, more than one. I'm going to give you a slew of good ideas to improve your speed, whether you've got a hard-wired or wireless connection.
Table of Contents
Why Is My Internet So Slow?
Speed is important across the globe. According to TIME Magazine a couple of years ago, the number of internet users increased from a mere 738 million in 2000 to 3.2 billion.
You may find yourself asking, "Why is my internet suddenly slow?" Of course, you should always get the most out of your internet speed, especially if you're paying for broadband speeds. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Before I guide you through various methods of repairing a slow internet connection, you should first know and understand why your internet is running slow.
- Your hardware is aging: The age of your hardware may play a role in this. Additionally, if your computer has been running for a long while without being rebooted or shut off, the hard drive may be bogged down. This can result in a slow PC or Mac.
- You may have a modem or router type that may not fully utilize your internet provider: Your router and modem may not fully utilize the connection speeds you've purchased. Look for a router and modem that provides you with extreme Wi-Fi speeds.
- Your connection is wireless: That's right, it's best for your device to be connected with an Ethernet cable. You may lose speed and performance if you go with a wireless connection.
- You may have one too many devices using your connection simultaneously: Do you have multiple devices on your internet connection? The more devices you are using for gaming, streaming, and downloading, the more likely your download and upload speeds start to slow down.
- Your software hasn't been upgraded: Your software may be behind in terms of upgrades, so make sure to upgrade the software and your drivers to ensure that you won't suffer slower internet speeds from the software end.
- You are using bandwidth hogs like BitTorrent: Torrent programs like BitTorrent rely on "seeding," or uploading files you've finished downloading. This eats up bandwidth if you don't stop it. Fortunately, the download process will stop once you complete a download.
Is My Internet Slow?
Your internet could very well be slow, but I can't tell you from here whether or not your internet speeds are not up to snuff.
However, you can check your internet download speed through several methods. You can test your internet speed through your provider if your provider offers you a speed test tool, or you can check your internet speed straight from Google if you type in "internet speed test" or any variation of those keywords like "how to check internet speed." You can also run an internet speed test with one of the most popular Global Broadband Speed Tests available, Ookla.
How to Get Faster Internet Speed
So how can you make the most out of your internet provider package? Fortunately, there are several ways to do so. I won't list all of them, but I will list the methods that do not require any intensive work.
Reboot Your Modem/Router
Your modem or router may need rebooting, but you should first check to see if your other computers and devices are running slow internet.
Here is how to reset your wireless router or modem:
- Unplug your router or modem from the power outlet.
- Wait between 15 and 20 seconds, then plug the router or modem back in.
If you are using one of Verizon FiOS' internet plans, you can also reboot your modem and router with the Verizon power brick. You can press the green switch on the brick to reboot the modem and router.
Rectify Your Wi-Fi Signal
It may not be the modem or the router that is the issue. If you're using Wi-Fi, you may be experiencing weak signals. Here are some tips on how to boost your wireless signal strength:
1. Ensure that your router is high quality and up to date.
The wireless A, B, and G-compatible routers are considered a little outdated compared to wireless N and AC.
However, you need to have both a wireless N router and a wireless N card built into your computer. Log into your wireless router's admin interface every so often to make sure you have the latest version of the router software.
2. Ensure that your router is out in the open.
If your router is out in the open, you'll face no obstructions that could interfere with the wireless signal. The antennas also need to be perpendicular, and if possible, elevate the router, especially if you're in a home that is greater than one story.
Furthermore, do not place your router near items such as microwaves, as microwaves would obstruct the signals from the router.
3. Find the right wireless channel.
Your neighbors could be affecting your signal strength, especially if both of your routers are sharing the same wireless channel.
You can rely on a tool like Wi-Fi Analyzer (or your router's app, if one exists) to check the channel that you are on.
4. Ensure that you have the best security available for your router.
Internet thieves can easily hack into your router to siphon your internet, which can choke your download and upload speeds.
You can easily block thieves from doing so, but you need some strong security, including a WPA password.
5. Purchase a Wi-Fi extender.
You can always purchase a Wi-Fi range extender from Amazon or your internet service provider.
Check Your Hardware
Your hardware may actually be damaged. Check your router and modem cables to ensure that they aren't split or twisted. Also avoid running an Ethernet cable near a power cable, as having a power cable near the Ethernet cable can cause interference and slow down transmission speeds.
Furthermore, check your Ethernet cable's length. After all, it appears that, on average, the Ethernet cable can transmit data to a maximum of around 300 feet, but after that distance, the quality of the signal starts to drop immensely.
In other words, to ensure maximum connection speeds, make sure that your cables are as short as possible.
Additionally, you'll want to take into account the quality of your Ethernet cables. While all Ethernet cables do the same thing, some types of Ethernet cables are better for the quality of the signal than others. For instance, the Cat6 cables are an improvement over the Cat5e, but the Cat5e is better than the cheap Ethernet cables purchased.
Check Your Software
Disable the TCP Auto-Tuning
TCP Auto-tuning was introduced in Windows Vista to help improve the performance for programs that receive Transmissions Control Protocol data. A lot of people have reported that turning off this feature increases internet speeds.
To toggle this feature off, you can:
1. Enter administrator command prompt by (on Windows 10) typing command prompt within the search function on the left-hand corner. Right-click on command prompt and click "Run as administrator."
2. Enter the following:
netsh interface tcp set global autotuning=disabled
3. Press Enter and then restart your computer. If you don't see an improvement, you can turn back on the feature by typing into the command prompt:
netsh interface tcp set global autotuning=normal
Of course, there is a myriad of solutions that are more advanced, such as disabling large send offload settings, upping your receive buffers, and more, but I'm going to focus on the simpler solutions rather than the more complex.
Close Bandwidth-consuming Apps & Plugins
This tip is for both your mobile device (you know, in case you're facing slow speeds on your iPad or iPhone) and your PC. If your internet is slow on one computer or mobile device, then it's probable that you have many bandwidth-hungry programs in the foreground and background. In other words, if you have programs like Facebook and Twitter constantly running on your devices, then you're probably eating up bandwidth via too many background apps.
To combat your slow internet connection, you should stop downloading files (or stop using your device temporarily). Other bandwidth hogs are ads, animations, and auto-play media like YouTube videos. In this case, you should install extensions such as AdBlock to prevent these from surfacing.
Pro Tip: You can check out how many programs are running by pressing Control/Alt/Delete, all at the same time. This will bring up Task Manager. A word of warning: do not close out anything in Task Manager without first looking up what it is to make sure it won't affect your computer's overall performance.
Change Your Browser
Your web browser may be a cause of slow internet. For instance, while Microsoft Edge is much more efficient and faster than its predecessor, Internet Explorer, there are other, more effective browsers out there. For instance, Firefox and Google Chrome both contain a variety of tools, such as blockers, to speed up your browsing.
Opera Turbo Mode is a useful tool to speed up a slow internet connection on Mac. Of course, features like Opera Turbo may not solve all your problems, but at times it can work beautifully.
Regardless of whether you use Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or another web browser, it's a good idea to keep it updated to the latest version and clear your web cache every now and then. This not only helps your speeds - it also frees up space on your hard drive, which naturally improves computer performance.
Rely on Offline Tools if Possible
If you're working, then you should try to be as efficient as possible. For example, you don't need to rely just on Google Docs if you're typing a report.
Instead, you can always write up a report with Notepad, Microsoft Word, or any similar offline writing program, then later paste your work into a Google Docs document. This way, you can use your bandwidth for tasks that require bandwidth.
Contact Your Internet Service Provider
If you're looking for ways to improve internet speed, even after trying these suggested methods (and some advanced methods), then perhaps it's time to contact your ISP. Perhaps the issue lies within the cables of your internet.
Perhaps it's a temporary issue that is directly from your internet service provider. You won't know until you call your internet service provider to straighten out the situation.
Find a New Internet Service Provider
If the issue is longer than just temporary, then you should instead consider a new provider.
Unfortunately, some areas may only have one internet service provider, but if you have multiple internet service providers, then you can always do a little research and check out our buyer's guide to internet providers. Be sure to read customer reviews before you make the leap.
Read More: To make your hunt for an internet service provider easier, you can always use our search tool to find ISPs by ZIP code.
What Is Considered Good Internet Speed?
A good internet speed depends on the number of users and the activity you're attempting to pursue. In a lot of cases, a good internet speed to do most anything is 5Mbps, but this is for one user.
However, according to Consumer Reports, the FCC considers 10Mbps and 25Mbps to be reasonable for households that stream video. The FCC has designated 25Mbps as broadband speed. Very heavy data users may want up to 50Mbps or more.
Why Does My Internet Slow Down at Night?
A lot of people experience this issue at one point or another, especially if they have cable internet. Cable internet is similar to a highway system, meaning that there will be periods of congestion. Since people are often home at night time - after a long day of work - they often turn to the internet to wind down and relax.
To put it simply, you're experiencing rush hour traffic, but with internet speeds.
Why Is My Phone so Slow on the Internet?
At times, your Android or iOS (or Windows Phone) devices will not run at peak internet speeds. There could be a few reasons for this, which we will highlight below.
Related: If you're experiencing slow connections on your phone, it may be time to upgrade. We'll help you find the perfect cell phone plan for you.
Your Cache May Be Eating up Your System Resources
Typically, your apps and services may take up precious system resources, which can slow down your phone. In this case, you will need to clear your app and web caches. Fortunately, we have a guide on clearing your cache and search history prepared for you.
Your Apps & Widgets May Be Using Bandwidth
As mentioned earlier, your apps may be consuming data, especially if they're running as background apps. If you're not using them, why not uninstall them? Widgets also use a pretty good amount of data. To delete a widget, simply tap and hold on a widget before dragging said widget to the Remove icon.
To delete or uninstall an app on an Android:
1. Open up the Applications Menu.
2. Click on Edit.
3. Tap on the app.
4. Click on "OK".
The process is even easier on an iOS device. To delete or uninstall an app, all you need to do is click and hold on the app until it wiggles, then click on the X button. Follow the on-screen prompts, and the app will vanish from your device.
In case you ever want that app back, you can either download it again from the App Store (You won't have to pay a second time) or redownload it from iTunes when you sync your device.
You May Be Using the Wrong Network Mode
You may need to check your network mode. Fortunately, you can do so by going to the Settings on your Android. On Android:
You can then find Mobile Network Settings, though the name may differ. Make sure that your phone isn't restricted to a particular speed.
Make sure to select GSM/WCDMA/LTE auto first, but if you're using a 3G phone, then select another network that isn't GSM or CDMA.
Read More: Unsure of the differences between GSM and CDMA? You can always learn more with our guide, "CDMA vs. GSM: What's the Difference?"
Your Browser Pages Are Littered with Data-eating Ads
When you view web pages, you may encounter automatically-playing ads, YouTube videos, animations, and more. This eats up data and - ironically - reduces the playback speeds of the content you actually do want to see. The best solution is to install an ad blocker, which you can do directly from the App Store or the Google Play Store.
Pro Tip: Whether you're using Chrome on Android or the Safari browser on iPhone, be sure to keep your browser updated to the latest version.
Now that you've learned how to speed up slow internet, get out there and browse away! If you are still having issues after trying the available methods, you should consider calling your internet service provider. If the provider cannot help you even then, then you should switch to a different provider.
Looking for the best internet plans for you? Then you should read our comprehensive guide to internet plans.
Want to see who has the fastest internet speed near you? You can run a side-by-side comparison between all the internet providers in your area here.