Learn Why the Speed of Your Wi-Fi Network Fluctuates

How to combat network slowdown at home

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When your Wi-Fi slows to a crawl at certain times of the day, the slowdown may be caused by your internet service provider instead of your local home network. It's not uncommon for internet connections to slow down during peak usage hours—typically early evenings—but local wireless networks themselves usually don't have this problem. However, it can happen. Here's what to look for. 

Why a Network Slows Down

Possible explanations for home network slowdowns include:

  • Interference from a neighbor's network that's active at the same time of day
  • Devices on the network that are scheduled to run daily backups on your home network while you are on your computer 
  • Malware that is running inside your network
  • An increase in the number of devices that are simultaneously streaming content or playing online games on the network
  • Greater than usual distance from the router

Things to Try to Speed Up Your Wi-Fi Network

  • Schedule backups and large downloads when you are asleep.
  • Keep your router's firmware and your computer's antivirus protection up to date.
  • Password-protect your router so your neighbors aren't using your bandwidth without your knowledge and permission.
  • Position your router up high rather than down low and near the area where you usually access the internet.
  • Stay away from electronic devices that might be emitting an electromagnetic field, such as smart lighting, microwave ovens, and holiday lights. Even improperly shielded Bluetooth devices can slow down a network.

If you can't identify any of these possible problems in your home as the possible cause of inconsistent Wi-Fi network speeds, use an internet speed test. Record the speeds at which you can access the internet at good times and at slow times and look for trends. After a few days, if a pattern emerges, contact your internet service provider and ask for help determining if it is slowing down your internet speed at the times you identify.