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July 5, 2021
There’s a lot of reason’s that our devices buffer. Regardless of how quickly we want to put our fists through them, there might be some causes we can remedy. Take a look at the 6 biggest reasons your internet might be slow–and how you can fix it from home.
1 Kid upstairs watching Cocomelon
2 Teenagers gaming in their rooms
You on your phone
Your partner streaming Bo Burnham’s Netflix special for the eighth time, but only fast forwarding to “That Funny Feeling” every time and crying into the mostly finished bottle of Cabernet.
That’s a lot of bandwidth. But we need it–and more importantly, we need it now.
In wise words of Bo Burnham, “Welcome To The Internet”
Why Is My Internet Slow
Aside from role call up there–there’s a myriad of reasons why your service might choke.
It’s important to understand, though, that there sometimes are bandwidth and data caps associated with your service. Before you start shaking too many buffered fists at your ISP (Internet Service Provider), it’s probably proactively protective to check that your slow internet isn’t actually your fault.
Check You Internet Speed
Before anything, just run a quick internet speed test. After you click the link, there will be a prompt to start the test–simply click and leave the rest to tech.
Once your results come back, match them with the service you’re paying for. If there’s a discrepancy (we’re talkin’ more than 50% kind of difference), continue on ahead.
If the speed reflects exactly what you’re paying for, you might just have the bite the bullet and buy better service (thanks Net Neutrality).
The 6 Biggest Reasons Why Your Internet Is Slow
Too many people doing too many things. While the hook of this blog may or may not have been hypothetical, the results certainly aren’t.
ISP’s have a limited number of space to provide you all the data you need at once, called bandwidth. Some hardware, and even providers, might not be equipped to handle the request of too much data at once. Instead of revoking a device altogether, usually the provider slows the pool of data for all user equally to a manageable rate.
This is where excessive buffering, lag, and load times kick in.
You can either call your provider to see if you’re hitting your cap, or simply regulate the number of devices being used.
Note: Some providers throttle bandwidth based on area coverage, and not the individual end users home. Meaning that you may even share bandwidth with your neighbor, or all of them. Slow speeds could possibly be because everyone finally came home from work and school, and several end users in the community are all struggling–not just you.
Location, Location, Location
Yes of your physical home, but more importantly of your actual hardware.
Certain routers and modems can only reach a certain distance. If you’re having trouble connecting to the gateway that’s located on the other side of your house–it’s probably just not rated to cover that kind of area.
You can upgrade your hardware to ones that are equipped to handle such large spaces, or you can add additional WiFi extenders throughout your home. These devices find the signal, restore the code, and bounce it back at (usually) it’s original strength.
Note: If your home is equipped with multiple coax outlets in the wall, try moving the router and modem to a more central location. This might help mitigate any location problems while saving you from shelling out on more hardware.
Check Your Wiring
Don’t scoff, we’re all guilty of it.
Everything from the soft rumble of your washer through the walls, to your kids actually unscrewing it (while they tell you to your face that they didn’t unscrew it)–can loosen the grip of your connections.
And then actually check the connection outside (if possible). Make sure that your coax hub hasn’t rusted or been compromised (chewed through, nested on, shorted out by rain)–and call your provider to replace any hardware if it has.
Note: PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REPLACE OUTDOOR HARDWARE ON YOUR OWN. Typically your provider will do this part for you. If there are compromised lines, you don’t know what connects to what (unless of course you wired your house yourself, in which case I’m deeply sorry for my blanket assumption)–please be safe and contact a professional.
Kick Out Hijackers!
You heard! Sometimes data pirates and hijackers (it sounds cool, but it’s actually real) might be stealing your bandwidth.
More importantly, they could be stealing your private info like credit card numbers, passwords, and even personal information.
Never leave your WiFi hotspot open. Always password protect your gateway and internet–and change your passwords and usernames if you feel they’ve been compromised.
Note: You can always contact your provider if you feel your information or internet has been compromised. They can see all devices that are accessed at all times and can help you verify and clarify those which do and do not belong to you.
This one actually isn’t your fault (not that any of the ones previously have been explicitly either).
Sometimes the host server you’re trying to access (the actual website, streaming platform, or game) is being overwhelmed by requests at the moment. Even though hosts like Netflix, HBO, Apple, or Google are big–they’re not infallible–they have their limits.
If you’ve checked everything on your end and you feel it’s not your problem, check back in 30 minutes to see if things haven’t cooled down. It might just be that everyone had the same brilliant idea to have an evening in–at the exact same time you had it.
Note: try downdetector.com. It has a live database of hundreds of hosts and reports any server shortages or downtimes. This might save you some extra time of wondering whether your host is down or not.
Otherwise known as Virtual Private Network, is a software that adds just a little extra oomph to your encryption.
Typically they’re used by companies to make sure that no outside sources can access delicate or private information on their servers, even when they’re out of office.
If the VPN is yours, you might have the luck of being able to reset or restart it if it’s causing connectivity issues. If you work from home and your company hosts your VPN, get in contact with IT and see if there’s a problem, or if it’s something that needs to be resolved on your end.
Note: Due to their corporate usage, VPN’s might dwindle when their bandwidth limit is hit–typically during working hours. If your delays and buffers are happening during later hours or off of peak usage times, try to isolate other problems before contacting IT.
Quick Fixes for Slow Internet
Internet speed troubleshooting chart
|Netflix is buffering in the middle of a show||Not enough download speed to support consistent playback||Disconnect other devices from your network.|
Connect your streaming device via Ethernet.
Lower your streaming resolution.
|Zoom video calls are out of sync||Either not enough upload speed or high latency||Connect via Ethernet.|
Use your router’s QoS to prioritize video calls.
Change internet plans.
|Wi-Fi is slow in the corners of the house||Weak Wi-Fi signal||Reposition your router.|
Upgrade to a more powerful router or mesh system.
Use a Wi-Fi extender or access point.
|Internet speeds slow to a crawl at the end of the month||Throttling due to exceeding data cap||Upgrade to a plan without data caps.|
Use less internet data throughout the month.
|Internet speeds slow down in the evening||Internet rush hour traffic||Schedule large downloads for other times of day.|
Download shows and media beforehand.
|Wi-Fi keeps disconnecting||Weak Wi-Fi signal, or your router is wonky||Turn your router off and on again.|
Replace your router.