Internet Slow? Here are 10 Possible Reasons Why

If you constantly find yourself asking, “Why is my internet so slow?” while waiting for movies or websites to fully load, there are a lot of different reasons this could be happening.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common causes for poor internet service to help improve your home experience. Let’s get started on how to identify (and fix) your slow internet connection. 

Top 10 Reasons for Slow Internet

1. Your Browser History is Full

The first and easiest thing to check when your internet takes a dip is your web browser history. It’s easily forgettable but has a direct impact on your latency. As you visit different websites, your browser automatically collects and saves bits of data about your browsing history. If you forget to clear out this stored history, your browser will require more bandwidth than normal to manage all this extra data. 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 – smartphones, tablets, computers, and even smart TVs. If this is the cause of your slow internet, you will notice pages loading faster immediately after doing so.

2. Your Devices are Outdated

This is a hard one for some 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 phased out. Older devices typically cannot support faster networks like cable internet or fiber internet, which could cause latency issues or no connectivity at all sometimes. 

Quick Fix: Upgrade your devices

While upgrading does cost money, there are many cheap options for newer devices today. There are even programs like Apple Trade-In and Best Buy Trades where you can swap older devices for store credit on a new purchase. Once you upgrade your device, you are likely to see a drastic improvement in your internet experience.

3. Too Many Devices are Online

All devices on a network share a finite amount of bandwidth. Your WiFi router determines which devices need more, pulling from each to ensure all devices have some sort of connection. So, as you connect more devices to your network, you run the risk of using up all your bandwidth and overloading your internet equipment. This leads to latency issues and a poor user experience for everyone.

Quick Fix: Disconnect devices not in use

Try disconnecting devices throughout your house that are not currently being used. Of course, don’t add your smart fridge and home security system to the shortlist, but consider unplugging things like your Roomba, shower speaker, and TV you rarely watch when not in use. You should see a noticeable difference in your internet afterward.

4. Your Network is Set to Public

If you’re running low on bandwidth, it might be because your home network is open to the public. An open network allows anyone within signal range to use your internet without a password. This is bad for two reasons. First, the more devices connected to your network, the less bandwidth is available for a single user. Second, your network is left vulnerable to online cybercrimes. Both of these lead to slow internet.

Quick Fix: Create a WiFi password

The easiest solution to this problem is to create a strong password for your network. This allows you to limit the number of people and devices that can access your internet, which in turn conserves the bandwidth you pay for. We recommend using a complex series of eight or more upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers for this password, which you update at least once every 3-6 months.

5. You Haven’t Reset Your Equipment

Like all things that require energy, electronics need regular maintenance and rest to function at peak capacity. If you’re experiencing slow internet speeds, it may be your internet equipment signaling to you that it needs a break.

Quick Fix: Restart your router and/or modem

Your modem is what delivers internet signals from your provider to your home, and your router is what connects your devices to WiFi. Restarting one or 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. This will also help preserve your equipment for as long as possible.

6. Your Router Needs a Better Spot

Right now, where is your router located in your home? Is it shoved under a desk or tangled in cords behind your TV? If the answer is yes to any of that, you’ll want to consider relocating your internet equipment. Similar to a lamp, a router needs space of its own to work efficiently. Well, why, you ask?

WiFi signals travel in waves and need room to disperse throughout a home. Obstacles like large furniture or wires can easily disrupt this signal. So, you want to think about the location you pick for your router to help it “breathe” so to speak.

Quick Fix: Relocate your router

If you live in a one-story home, the best place for your router is in the center of the house away from other cords 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 signals also travel 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.

7. Furniture is Blocking Signal

In addition to your router placement, it’s possible that your slow WiFi is caused by the furniture arrangement in the home. WiFi signals travel best when there are no obstacles blocking their path. Objects made of thick materials like wood, metal, and sheetrock are common barriers to a stable WiFi connection. Sometimes, slow internet can be caused by your decorating as much as it can be caused by the placement of your equipment.

Quick Fix: Rearrange your furniture

With a bit of rearranging, you can easily improve the performance of your home internet. Consider moving larger pieces of furniture like couches, desks, and beds to the exterior walls of your home to allow WiFi signals to pass through rooms easily. Also, ensure that your router is placed in a central, open space with the least amount of walls close by.

8. Your House is Too Big

Have you ever noticed that the farther away you are from your router, the worse your connection gets? This happens because WiFi signals slowly weaken and dissipate as they travel farther from the source (your router). On top of this, other physical barriers like furniture and walls can work negatively against the overall performance of your internet. Large homes frequently have this problem.

Quick Fix: Invest in a WiFi booster

It’s unrealistic to expect you to purchase all new furniture or knock down walls to improve your slow internet. A more reasonable solution would be to invest in a WiFi extender or Mesh WiFi system to help boost your WiFi signal throughout your home. These devices are easy to set up and range in price from a few to a couple of hundred dollars.

9. Your ISP is Throttling Your Speeds

While rare, your slow internet could be due to ISP throttling. This is when a provider intentionally slows down a customer’s internet speeds to either regulate network congestion or stop illegal search activity. It’s not a great user experience, which is why many providers have stopped throttling speeds or at the very least offer unlimited data options to sidestep this. If you already have unlimited data, another way to avoid ISP throttling is using a virtual private network (VPN).

Quick Fix: Use a VPN

An ISP chooses who to slow down based on a user’s IP address. This is a digital identifier that connects a user to their online activity. Using a VPN will reroute all of your data through their secure servers, so your actual IP is hidden from your service provider. It’s the easiest way to avoid ISP throttling and costs less than a cup of coffee a month for most subscriptions.

10. You’re Paying for a Slow Internet Plan

If none of the solutions above did the trick, it may be time to upgrade your internet plan to include faster speeds. A 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 to what you pay for.

Quick Fix: Upgrade your internet plan

We all go through different seasons in our lives that require more or less internet. If your current service isn’t cutting it for you, consider upgrading your plan. Start by testing your internet speed to get an idea of what’s not working. Then, factor in things like how many people live in your home, how many devices you typically have connected, and what types of internet activities you regularly use. This will help determine the best internet speed for you to sign up for next.

Internet Speed Test Results Explained

In this guide, we’ll explain what an internet speed test is, how to read your speed test results, and why you might be experiencing bad service. 

Table of Contents

What an Internet Speed Test Is

The first step to figuring out what’s wrong with your internet is running a speed test. An internet speed test is a measurement of how fast your internet is in real-time.

It usually takes less than one minute to complete and provides current stats about your internet service including download speed, upload speed, ping time, and IP address. These stats help gauge the performance of your current connection and confirm whether or not the speeds you pay for actually hold up.

Internet service providers (ISPs) typically advertise maximum speeds available for plans, but actual speeds tend to come in slightly lower. So, don’t be surprised if your test results vary day by day. Many factors affect internet performance, but before we discuss those reasons, let’s touch on the data measured with speed tests.

What Your Speed Results Mean

As we mentioned above, an internet speed test is a live assessment of how fast your internet connection is. The results you receive include your download speed, upload speed, and ping time:

  • Download Speed – This measures how fast you can receive data from the internet to your device. Internet providers usually prioritize download speeds on their network since most internet activities require download vs upload speed, such as streaming movies or gaming online.
  • Upload Speed – This measures how fast you can send data from your device to the internet. Online activities like video conferencing for remote work or uploading photos to social media require fast upload speeds.
  • Ping – This is a test that confirms a network server connection. A ping test sends a data request to a server to see if it comes back. If it does, your connection is active.
  • Ping time – This measures how fast a data request travels to and from a server for testing. When it takes more than a few seconds to get a response, a user’s connection usually buffers for a while.

Remember, internet service providers always advertise their maximum speeds available, which don’t take into account multiple devices or people online at once. Users rarely reach full capacity when accessing the internet. Depending on your connection type, your service is working ok if speeds get at least 50 to 200 Mbps within range of your top speeds.

Now, if you’re experiencing slower internet than normal, there are plenty of reasons this could be happening. We list the three main reasons (and solutions) you can try before having to call your provider for help.

Reasons for Slow Internet

More times than not, these are the three likely reasons for slow internet that you can easily fix on your own and take less than 10 minutes from start to finish.

Your Router Needs a Better Spot

The most common cause for slow WiFi is equipment location. Similar to a lamp, a router and modem both need space of their own to perform at peak capacity. So, try to avoid placing your router on the floor, near other cords, behind big furniture, or tucked in a corner. Instead, it’s best to place your router in the center of your home, on the top floor level, or the highest furniture perch since WiFi signal travels downward better than upward.

Time Required: 10 min

You Haven’t Reset Your Equipment

Like all things that require energy, electronics need regular maintenance and rest to function at their best. Try restarting your modem and router on a regular basis to troubleshoot internet issues and refresh their connections. We recommend doing this monthly to ensure you get the most out of your internet equipment either by setting a reminder on your phone or using an outlet timer to automate the task.

Time Required: 5-10 min

Too Many Devices are Online

Each day, your WiFi router determines which devices need bandwidth, pulling excess bandwidth randomly from each to ensure all devices have an active 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. To avoid this, try disconnecting devices throughout the house that are not currently being used to free up bandwidth on your network.

Time Required: 5 min

Run a Speed Test Today

We recommend testing your internet connection regularly to see how it performs over time. You can use your speed test results to:

1. Keep Your ISP in Check

Never pay for poor service if you can help it. Your speed test results are an easy way to keep your internet provider accountable. While it’s normal for speeds to perform slightly lower than advertised, you should still be within 50 to 200 Mbps of your paid plan.

If you find that your speeds are consistently too low, this information can help you when contacting your ISP. In some cases, providers will offer discounts, reduced rates, or same-day technician support to resolve your issue.

2. Find the Best Times to Get Online

It’s normal for your speeds to be slower during the evening between 7 PM and 11 PM. This period is known as “peak hours” because it’s the time most users access the internet after school or work. On the other hand, you may find that speeds are faster in the early morning or during weekdays when fewer people are online. The sure way to know the best time to get online is to test your internet speed throughout the day.

3. Assess Your Internet Needs

Routinely checking your internet connection can help you decide what speeds are right for your lifestyle. If you constantly find yourself slowed down by buffering screens, you may need to get a new internet plan with faster speeds. As your online habits change, so will your internet needs.

4. Upgrade Your Internet if Needed

Are you constantly slowed down by your internet connection? Tired of waiting for Netflix to load at night? It may be time to upgrade your internet plan. Use HighSpeedOptions to compare top providers and plans available near you.