What Time of Day is Your Internet Speed Fastest?

It never fails. You want to download a file, send an email or buy a single item and your Internet speed slows to a crawl. Sometimes it seems like a conspiracy—maybe your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is throttling your bandwidth? And sometimes you wonder if it’s your hardware—could you get better speed with a new computer, wireless router or improved connection? While in some cases upgrades can jump-start performance, it’s also possible you’re online at the wrong time. That’s right: Internet speeds are dependent on the time of day.

Test First

Before you go hunting for the ideal time of day to start big downloads or make quick purchases, check to make sure your connection is working as advertised. Run a bandwidth test and compare the results to what’s advertised by your ISP. If the numbers never match no matter what time you run the test, contact your provider. If they can’t provide good answers, consider a switch.

When the Sun Goes Down Internet Speed Goes Up

It’s not surprising, but it’s true: Your Internet speed is faster at night. According to an article from the Daily Mail, for example, bandwidth speeds in the UK drop by 35 percent during the evening ‘rush hour’ when people get home from work. Between 7pm and 9pm, analysts found the average download speed slowed to just over 6 megabytes per second (Mbps), but in the early morning hours—between 2am and 3am—speeds jumped to almost 10 Mbps.

It’s also worth noting that the high number of users during rush hour can prompt ISP throttling in addition to volume-related slowdown. When too many users try to log on at the same time, some ISPs throttle connections to give each customer a portion of the bandwidth rather than relying on first-come-first-served. While this means you’ll get some speed instead of virtually none, it can be frustrating if you’ve paid for a connection package that boasts specific download or upload rates.

Want the fastest Internet speed? Surf at night or in the early morning. During rush hour, expect even the best connections to slow.