Sunday, March 29, 2020

What to do if your Internet seems slow

  • What is the problem?
    • Video you watch hesitates where it never used to. Second Life does not resolve objects quickly. Group chat barely works. Websites take longer than expected to load. Internet activities just seem slower overall and online gaming of any kind has become somewhat problematic.
  • What are the causes?
    • Too many devices at home
      More devices were purchased recently for your home. Now there isn’t enough bandwidth available for all devices to stream smoothly.
    • Too many people streaming/gaming in your home
      With people being sent home from work these days perhaps more people are using the Internet at your home. Now everyone’s connected experience isn’t very good anymore.
    • All your neighbors are also on the Internet
      Your Internet connection is not used only by your household. Once the cable is outside your home, the bandwidth is shared by you and a certain number of your neighbors. Your Internet Service Provider does not provide the maximum bandwidth per household as a maximum available on their Internet connection. They don’t do 50 Mbps times 150 customers equals 7500 Mbps. Instead, they calculate how much is used at peak, on average, and supply something close to that. That means if people on that segment of the Internet connection use more bandwidth than the ISP allowed for, everyone’s effective bandwidth will be lower than they expect. With many more people at home these days, this happens more and more often.
  • How to test!
    • This sounds drastic, but it's for everyone's greater good:  have everyone turn off their devices and/or computers for a few minutes except for one computer (not an Android or Apple IOS phone or tablet). Do this to make sure your test results are good.
    • Go to the one computer and open your favorite web browser. Head to When the page finishes loading there will be a large "GO" button in the middle. Click that and your test will begin.
    • What you get:  relatively accurate upload and download speeds for your Internet connection. It should be very close to what your contract with the ISP says you should get. If not, reboot the home router and try again.
    • If you continue to experience slowness, contact your Internet Service Provider and tell them what you've done already. That will speed things up.
  • Possible solutions!
    • Try turning off some of the devices
      Turning off some of the devices in your home that aren’t required at that moment, such as security cameras, computers, or tablets that aren’t being used, may help.
    • Ask people to stop streaming/gaming
      If you’re working at home and it has become difficult to complete tasks, see if someone in your house is streaming video or gaming online. Ask them to stop until you’re done with work or set up a lunch break schedule when they can go back online.
    • Reboot your router
      The device your Internet Service Provider sells or rents to you (a home router) is not corporate-class equipment and occasionally needs to be turned off and then back on. If that doesn’t happen, performance can become erratic. See if your home router can be configured to reboot on a schedule. Otherwise, unplug your home router from power, wait 30 seconds, plug it back in, and wait until all the lights are green. Then see whether performance improves.

      Note:  Doing that will disconnect all the devices in your home from the Internet. If rebooting the router fixes the problem, then it may have just been the same as asking people to stop streaming/gaming or turning unused devices off. If performance starts to drop off over time, then you may wish to commandeer devices around your home and make sure they are off.
    • Replace your router with a better model
      Home routers are not designed to be used for more than a few years. Your Internet Service Provider may have changed communication protocols that affect your home router. Your device may simply begin failing. If you find you’re having to reboot your home router on a regular basis just to make it work, then it’s time for a replacement. Investigate whether you can buy your own home router (so you don’t pay ongoing rental fees). If that isn’t possible, return the one you have to your provider and get a new one.
    • Upgrade your service
      You may have to bite the bullet and upgrade your Internet bandwidth. This may also necessitate getting a new home router to handle the increased bandwidth. A side effect may be increased connection speed to your home router.

      However, be wary of purchasing Wifi 6 routers because unless you’re paying for a multiple gigabit per second Internet connection it will not be useful to you. Well, unless you’re (a) using all Wifi 6 devices, (b) doing large file transfers internally on your home network, and/or (c) your household does a lot of device-to-device gaming.

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