Reasons Why High-Speed Internet Can Be Sluggish

Is it you or is it the ISP?

What's wrong with my internet speed?

Slow internet connections happen for various reasons, even when you pay for a high-speed connection such as DSL or cable. Because the internet is built on hundreds of different technologies trying to talk to one another, there are many places where data can slow down before it reaches your computer screen.

What's Wrong with my Internet Speed?

There are several reasons high-speed internet performs slower than expected. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) might be at fault, certainly, but there are other factors to look at before assigning blame. Some of these slow points are within your control and can be quickly fixed with a little do-it-yourself effort.

You might have an old router or modem connecting you to the internet connection. If it has been a few years since you got your equipment, its time to upgrade. Check with your ISP.

Your modem or router may not be configured correctly. Check the documentation that came with the equipment or go to the manufacturer's website.

Perhaps you have neighbors who "borrow" your wireless connection. Prevent this by password protecting your wireless network. You should do this even if you aren't having speed concerns.

Your web browser could have add-ons and plugin features that are consuming bandwidth.

Screenshot of Google Chrome extensions

Your web browser might have security features enabled that hold back pages while safety scans are performed.

Your modem-router may not be using the most current technology — 802.11ac routers are much faster than 802.11b, 802.11g or 802.11n routers.

You might have malware that is infecting your computer and secretly using your internet bandwidth to send spam and distribute pornography. Run antivirus software regularly to prevent this.

Screenshot of virus scan

If you are a torrent user, your uploads might be running in the background and choking your bandwidth.

A download may be occurring in the background, and you are unaware of it.

Your internet service provider may be having issues routing signals to you. Contact the ISP with your concerns.

Your DNS (domain name system) tables might be outdated, so signals are sent to the wrong addresses on your ISP network. Update your DNS servers.

Your browser memory cache is so full, your browser has to slow down to allow for the limited hard drive space. Clear the cache, selectively or completely.

Screenshot of Clear Browsing Data

Radio or microwave devices in your home might be degrading your internet wireless signal. Don't locate your router, modem or computer near the kitchen microwave or a radio-based phone.

Position your router and modem nearer your computer or vice versa. Distance causes a slowdown in speed.

Your computer is more than three years old and is not able to move electrons fast enough for modern web pages. You can't do much about this other than buy a new computer, if feasible.

You have unwittingly left dozens of windows open in the background, and they are clogging your computer CPU. Check the Task Manager and close unwanted programs or browser windows.

Screenshot of Task Manager

A dialog box is sitting open and unanswered in the computer background, stalling your computer CPU while it awaits your Yes/No input.

You live in a huge house, and your router is in the basement. Add an internet booster midway between the basement and your computer to strengthen the signal and improve speed.

Take Action

These are just some of many possible your internet speed may be slow. If you think that your internet connection is unreasonably slow, take these actions.

  1. Perform a speed test on your computer using a website like speed testing or Repeat the test several times a day to see if the speed varies widely.

    Screenshot of Internet speed test
  2. Troubleshoot your computer using a troubleshooting list for your internet connection.

  3. Contact your ISP and explain your concerns. Only the ISP can test the signal coming into your home and tell you whether it is a high-speed signal. The ISP troubleshoots and corrects the problem if it lies with their service. If the signal is strong to your home, you and your equipment are responsible for the speed the rest of the distance.