If your internet is slow, try restarting your modem and router. Also check your internet usage — if you’re trying to do too much for your available bandwidth, slowdowns are inevitable.
There are many reasons why your Internet connection may seem slow. It could be a problem with your modem or router, Wi-Fi signal, signal strength on your cable line, devices on your network saturating your bandwidth, or even a slow DNS server. These troubleshooting steps will help you determine the cause.
Reduce the problem with multiple websites and devices
If your speed test confirms that your Internet is slow, you should try connecting to various websites and using various devices in your home if your Internet connection is slow. If the slowness is only with one website, it is likely a problem with that website, not the Internet. There is really nothing you can do about it except wait for the people in charge of the website to fix it.
Narrowing down where the problem is will help you fix it. Does the slowness only occur on one computer or on all your devices? If it’s just a computer, you know the solution is probably there. You may just need to restart your computer or run a malware scan with your preferred antivirus to verify that everything is ok. If the slowness occurs on multiple devices, multiple computers for example, or your computer and your phone, then it’s almost certainly a network issue and you’ll need to go to your router.
Check your speed and compare it with your plan
RELATED: How to test your internet connection speed or mobile data speed
Before going through a lot of troubleshooting on your end, it’s worth running a speed test using a website like Speedtest.net to see how well you’re actually performing. Be sure to stop any downloading, uploading, Netflix streaming, or other intense internet activity before taking the test to ensure as little interference with your results as possible.
Compare the measured speed results with the expected speed of the Internet connection you are paying for. If you don’t know it, you can most likely find it on your Internet connection bill or on your Internet service provider’s website.
RELATED: Why You’re Probably Not Getting The Internet Speeds You’re Paying For (And How To Know)
There are some caveats here. Speed tests can sometimes seem quite high as some internet service providers may prioritize them and may have servers very close to you. If your connection speed seems a bit slow, that could be normal – you usually pay “up to” a certain speed and you don’t always get the exact speed you pay for. Speeds may also be slower at the busiest times of the day, when everyone in your neighborhood is using the Internet connection, than at off times when many people are sleeping or working.
Of course, it could also be that you’re paying for a very slow internet plan, in which case you’ll need to call your internet provider and pay extra to upgrade your service.
However, if you’re paying for a certain connection speed and are consistently receiving speed test results that are way below that, it’s time to move on to the troubleshooting steps below.
Reboot your modem and router
Just like computers, modems and routers sometimes get stuck in a bad, slow, overloaded state. This problem can be fixed with a reboot. If you haven’t restarted your router and modem in a while, you should do it now.
If you have a modem/router combo unit, you may only have one device to reboot. But you will most likely need to reset two pieces of hardware: the router and the modem. The router connects to the modem, which is connected to the cable coming out of the wall. To reset them, unplug each of their respective outlets for ten seconds before plugging them back in. It may take a few minutes for your modem to reconnect to your Internet Service Provider and bring your Internet connection online, so be patient. Check if your speed improves after reboots.
RELATED: Why Rebooting Your Router Fixes So Many Problems (And Why You Have To Wait 10 Seconds)
Improve your Wi-Fi signal
Your internet may be fine, but your Wi-Fi, which connects you to the internet, has signal issues. A poor Wi-Fi connection can seem like an Internet connection problem, especially since it can affect all the devices in your house. There are quite a few reasons why you might have a poor Wi-Fi signal. Radio waves could be congested with too many devices nearby, especially if you’re using 2.4GHz and not 5GHz, which can support many more devices. This is a particularly common problem in denser urban areas, for example if you live in an apartment complex with neighbors who have many wireless routers and other devices.
You could also have a dead zone, something interfering with your Wi-Fi signal, or poor coverage throughout your home. Check out our guide to speed up your Wi-Fi and get a better signal for more tips.
If you have a larger home or garden and need better Wi-Fi coverage, consider getting a mesh Wi-Fi system that provides multiple base stations that you can place around your home or property.
RELATED: How to get a better wireless signal and reduce wireless network interference
Stop saturating your connection (or test QoS)
Your Internet connection is shared by all the devices in your home, so other devices on your network could be swamping your Internet connection, slowing things down for everyone else.
For example, if two people are streaming Netflix and one person is trying to download a file using BitTorrent, everyone’s experience will slow down. Stop (or slow down) some of those other downloads to speed things up.
RELATED: How to Use Quality of Service (QoS) to Get Faster Internet When You Really Need It
If this is a particularly frequent problem, you may need to update your internet package. However, you can also see if your router has a Quality of Service (QoS) feature, which will allow your router to automatically manage and allocate the amount of bandwidth that different devices and services receive. For example, it can automatically throttle BitTorrent bandwidth to avoid slowing down Netflix streams.
Check for coax splitters
If you have cable Internet and have coaxial cable splitters on the line going to your cable modem, they could be degrading signal strength and causing a slower Internet connection. Splitters vary in quality, and a cheap, bad one could reduce signal strength much more than a higher quality one would. A large number of dividers could also cause a problem.
If you have splitters on your cable line, try unplugging them to troubleshoot your Internet connection. See how your Internet connection works without splitters on the line. If you have a much faster internet connection speed, you have found your problem.
RELATED: How to Troubleshoot Your Internet Connection, Layer by Layer
Try another DNS server
In some cases, changing your DNS server can help speed up the apparent speed of your connection if your default Internet Service Provider’s DNS servers are slow.
Here’s how DNS works: When you connect to a website like google.com, your computer contacts its DNS servers and asks “What numerical IP address is associated with google.com?” It gets a response and connects to that IP address, which can be something like 22.214.171.124 and then connects to that address.
Your DNS servers are usually provided by your Internet Service Provider. But, if they are slow or overloaded, you may be able to get better speed by switching to another set of DNS servers. Google Public DNS and OpenDNS are quite popular.
RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Changing Your DNS Server
Call your ISP and report the problem
If you’ve followed all of these troubleshooting steps and can’t fix the problem, it’s most likely not a problem you can fix. It may be a problem with your Internet Service Provider. For example, there may be a problem with the cable line from your house to your ISP, or with some other equipment they have. In this case, you should call your Internet Service Provider and report the problem.
You’re paying your internet service provider to provide a stable connection, and it’s their job to fix any issues on your end. Just make sure it’s really your problem and not a problem on your end, like Wi-Fi signal issues.