Last updated: 15/11/2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
Anyone who has used the internet, and by that we mean everyone, will understand the frustration that a slow connection can cause. Even more annoying is when you’ve paid for a top of the range service and find yourself trying to stream Netflix on something akin to dial up.
There are a few things that can cause a slow connection, so we’re going to break down the most common ones and what you can do to get back up and running again
In This Guide:
- Test your speed
- Make sure your router is in the right place
- Check your devices
- Look out for network throttling
- It could be a network issue
Test your speed
Before you swear vengeance on your internet company for shorting you, it’s important to understand what your current connection speed is.
There are various online tools you can use to check this, but we recommend Google’s Project Stream as it is one of the most reliable. It takes just a few seconds and will provide you with your current internet download speed in Mbps.
Now you need to check this against what kind of package you took out. If it’s far below then read on, if it’s in line with what was advertised then you might just need a faster connection. If this is the case then, then use our broadband comparison tool now to find out what deals are available to you.
Make sure your router is in the right place
This issue is not only the most common but also one of the easiest to solve. Most of the time, when you have a router installed or you move to a different room, you’ll just leave the router where it is. As long as the internet works that’s all that matters right? Wrong.
You’ll be able to tell fairly easily if your router is in the wrong place by checking your internet in different places around the house. If the connection near the router is lightning quick, but your office on the other side of the house is struggling, then you’ve likely solved the problem.
The solution is of course to move the router to where it’s needed; often this is in the middle of the house, but if that’s not closest to where it’s required, think again. It’s also good advice to keep your router out in the open. While they might not be the most aesthetically pleasing objects, keeping them hidden away behind a bookshelf will diminish their effectiveness.
Check your devices
Sometimes, the devices you're using can be the cause of your internet issues. As well as simply being slow because they’re on their last legs, old laptops and phones will often not support higher speeds. This can even put the brakes on your internet connection as a whole, as the router can slow down to the fastest available speed of all the devices on the network.
So, if you have an old laptop that can only support 50Mbps, it could be bringing your entire connection down with it. Understanding if this is the issue will come down to working out the bandwidth capabilities of the devices you are using and comparing them to what you are achieving.
The solution, of course, is to make sure you are upgrading your devices when possible and at the very least, disconnect slower ones when you want to achieve those higher speeds.
Look out for network throttling
Although this may seem counter intuitive, broadband providers will sometimes purposely reduce your bandwidth. This is called internet throttling and, although rather ominous sounding, is a very common practice. Throttling is generally done for one of two reasons:
You have exceeded your data allowance. Most plans now come with unlimited data, but some have limits after which your internet speed is reduced.
Too many people are trying to connect at the same time. In these instances, an ISP will reduce connection speeds so that everyone is able to get online, albeit at a reduced rate.
It isn’t always easy to tell if your internet is being throttled. If you find your speed is reduced during the evening, when more people are likely to use it, then that’s probably why.
The best way to check to see if your internet is being throttled is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). VPNs disguise your IP address so your provider doesn’t know if you're coming from a high traffic area. If the VPN has much better speeds than your connection, then not only do you have your answer, but your solution too!
Most VPNs come at a price, but some come free so have a look around to see what deals are avaialble. It’s also important to bear in mind that most VPNs have a Mbps limit, so check what that is before you go and buy one.
It could be a network issue
Sometimes there’s just something wrong with the internet. It’s nothing you can fix and something that needs to be sorted out by your ISP.
If you’ve been troubleshooting all afternoon and can’t find a solution, then it’s likely there’s something wrong with the network. Get in touch with your provider to find out for sure, and if it’s the case, just put the kettle on and wait for the whole thing to blow over.
If this isn’t an option, then you can always try and find a cafe, pub or friends house nearby that will allow you to piggyback off of their (hopefully lightning-quick) connection.