Learn Why Your WiFi Network's Speed Fluctuates

How to combat network slowdowns at home

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When your WiFi 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. But, 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're on your computer.
  • Malware that's running inside your network.
  • An increase in the number of devices simultaneously streaming content or playing online games on the network.
  • Greater than the usual distance from the router.

Tips for Speeding up Your WiFi Network

Here are a few things to try if your internet speeds are slower than normal:

  • Schedule backups and large downloads when you are asleep.
  • Keep your router's firmware and your computer's antivirus protection updated.
  • 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. Place it 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 cause of inconsistent WiFi network speeds, use an internet speed test. 

Speedtest by Ookla is a popular choice.

Record the speeds at which you can access the internet during good times and during slow times. Look for trends. After a few days, if a pattern emerges, contact your internet service provider and ask for help determining if it's slowing down your internet speed at the times you identify.