Why Is My Internet Connection Slow?
I notice that my Internet connection seems to slow to a crawl at certain times, for no apparent reason. Is it likely that I have a virus, or are there other possible explanations for the slowdowns?
Diagnosing a Slow Internet Connection
Unfortunately, this is one of those problems that is very difficult to diagnose. Many different things can cause your Internet connection to slow down. Some of them are within your control, but many are not. Here are just a few of the common causes for slow Internet connections.
Too many users sharing one Internet connection can slow everyone to a crawl. If you are sharing a connection over a home network, you may experience slowdowns when others in the house are using Youtube or a graphics-intensive online game. If you have a cable modem, you are sharing a connection with other households in your neighborhood. If the slowdowns happen between 3pm and 4pm, around the time that kids are geting home from school, or weekday evenings between 9pm and 10pm, it's likely that your cable TV company has oversubscribed the equipment that serves your area. Note that a fiber-optic solution such as Verizon FIOS will not be susceptible to this type of problem.
An unknown program may be downloading or uploading data in the background without your knowledge. It might be something innocuous, like Windows Automatic Update, or it could be a virus, Trojan, or other type of malware program. If your computer is ensnared in a botnet, it could be pumping out volumes of spam without your knowledge. See What Is a Botnet? for more on that. Scan your system with anti-malware software to uncover such problems.
Outdated software can result in a slow Internet connection. Make sure your operating system is up to date with the latest bug fixes and security patches. Visit the Windows Update website and see my related article Secure Your Software to make sure everything is up to date.
Checking Under The Hood
A slow Internet connection may be part of an overall PC performance drop. Your computer may need a registry cleaner, a disk defragmentation, and some general maintenance. My tips on Computer Repair Software and Disk Defraggers will help you find software to use for those tasks.
A misconfigured router may slow down your connection. Reboot the router to see if that will clear up the problem. You can also try resetting the router to its factory defaults and configuring it all over again. Networking hardware is pretty durable but a router or network adapter can fail. Often hardware dies a slow death, with gradually slower connection speeds being one of the symptoms. Try a different router or network adapter to see if that helps. I had a cable modem that just seemed to get tired after running for a few days. Turning it off and then on again solved my sluggish Internet connection problem, and after I got a replacement from the cable company, the problem was gone for good.
There may be a problem in the wire connecting your home to your ISP, or in the configuration of your ISP's equipment. Ask your cable or telephone company to conduct a line test. This may require scheduling a visit from a technician.
Sometimes there are traffic jams on the Internet; there's not much you can do about those. If some Web sites load speedily while others are slow, it could be there is bottleneck between you and the slow-loading Web sites. You just have to wait for the problem to be fixed.
Slow Internet connections on mobile devices such as an iPad or smartphone are almost always caused by heavy network traffic or weak cellular signal. There's nothing you can do about network traffic except wait for it to subside. Moving outdoors and away from tall buildings can help you get a stronger signal.
Do you have other tips to help with slow internet connections? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 18 Aug 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Why Is My Internet Connection Slow? (Posted: 18 Aug 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved