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Why your high-speed Internet downgrades to dial-up? Checklist for faster online access.

Published: July 21, 2021 By Ozair Malik

Miniature workers fixing RJ45 connector

In computer networking, they say that your network or Internet is only as fast as its weakest link or wire.

You might know that - a home network is connected to the Internet via a router, mostly provided by an internet service provider (ISP). This router is the backbone of a home internet connection.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic corporate sector has adopted a new normal known as work from home. Employees and management is working remotely from the comfort of their homes. However, this new normal has brought immense challenges to a reliable, secure, and fast internet connection. For example, you wouldn't want to have a laggy video in a Zoom meeting or a Netflix show buffering frequently.

While working from home often, you came across this thought that why is my Internet so slow? There can be many reasons for slower internet connections. We will have to follow the below-mentioned steps to check each point of failure and find out the problem.

 

What to do if your Internet is very slow?

If you frequently experience very slow internet speed, then there are greater chances that a problem lies at your end or ISP's. To diagnose and troubleshoot the problem, implement the below-mentioned checklist.

You might know that - network is a collection of interconnected devices. For instance, our home network comprises several parts- a router and devices such as smartphones, laptops, PCs, tablets, smart devices, etc.

As I mentioned above that, the Internet is as fast as its weakest segment. So, we have to figure out the weakest link or connection in the network and make it vital to have fast and reliable Internet.

Scan for viruses

If you experience slow internet speed on a single device, there are greater chances that your device will be infected with a virus or malware.

Malware analysts have observed that modern malware consumes a lot of bandwidth in the background. As a result, it reduces the internet speed and leaves very little bandwidth for legitimate tasks.

To look for malware or virus in a system:

  1. Firstly perform deep scans using Windows Defender.
  2. Secondly, perform deep scans with antivirus software for extra caution.
  3. If you fail to detect any suspicious activity from both methods, reboot or factory reset your device.

Failure to detect happens since modern malware is very sophisticated. Rebooting or resetting your device will eliminate any such suspicious program hidden behind legitimate apps.

Remember, if the problem lies only in a single device, it can be solved by following the aforementioned methods. Otherwise, if multiple devices and systems experience slow speed, then it is a network problem. For troubleshooting network problems, follow the procedures mentioned below.

Perform Malware scan on devices using built-in windows antivirus

Image source—support.microsoft.com

Home Network Traffic

Why is my Internet so slow on my phone—you might get this thought every time your WI-FI speed appears slow on your phone.

If the speed is suitable when only you are using the Internet, or a single device is connected. But, it slows down when others join; this indicates that your connection cannot handle significant data traffic.

The primary reason behind this issue is low bandwidth. Your internet connection has a limited amount of bandwidth depending on the ISP's package you subscribed to. When more devices join, they consume bandwidth. The bandwidth reaches its maximum limit at some point due to excessive data traffic and usage of the Internet.

The only remedy for this issue is- upgrading the package. Choose a package with higher bandwidth and speed, keeping in mind the requirement of the home network.

Other solutions include:

  1.  Removing unknown and extra devices from the network
  2. Changing Wi-Fi passwords frequently
  3. Configuring QoS Settings of the router

Internet Speed (Mbps) vs. Your Plan

It has been observed that novice users even don't know -what Mbps is? – In the world of the Internet, let alone they would figure out the speed.

Mbps is to the internet connection what horsepower is to cars. More the HP, the faster the car runs. Similarly, the higher the Mbps, the faster the internet speed. So now you know what Mbps is- check with your ISP about what Mbps they are offering in your subscribed package.

To see what Mbps your connection is receiving:

  1. Type speed test on Google
  2. Open any speed test tool
  3. Perform the test and wait for the final results
  4. The speed test result is shown in the figure attached below.
  5. These websites measure connection speed in real-time, including ping, download, and upload speed.

If the speed test shows much less number than your ISP is claiming. In this case, call your provider and ask them for a diagnosis as there might be an issue with the main connection line outside of your home or at ISP's end.

Sometimes the DNS Server of ISP might get overloaded. As a result, you experience a delayed response to your queries over the browser. This can be sorted out by asking your ISP to shift your network to another DNS server. Another way is to manually switch to another DNS server by changing your network configuration, but this requires technical expertise.

My network speed test via online speed test tool.

 Image source – speedtestbyokla.com

Try Resetting your Router

I would recommend NOT to perform reset directly and first troubleshoot the network using above mentioned methods. This recommendation is if you are a novice user, resetting the router can create additional problems for you.

You might feel difficulty getting the router back to its standard settings because reset changes all the settings to default (Factory Mode). Therefore, if you do not know much about router configuration, ask your ISP to send help.

For technically sound users, here are the steps for a quick reset.

  1. Grab your router.
  2. Look for a reset button at the back.
  3. Use a pin to press that button.
  4. Press the button for about 30 seconds.
  5. Switch off the router while pressing the reset button.
  6. Keep pressing for about 60 seconds.
  7. Now, Release the button and turn the router on again.
  8. Configure the router according to required settings.

The steps mentioned above work for almost all routers. If you want to know the vendor recommended method, then head to the vendor's website.

Router Location and Antenna Position

The location and position of the router or modem affect the connectivity and speed of Wi-Fi. The speed and connectivity get poor with the increase in distance between the device and router. If you want to have good performance, bring your router closer or use a WI-FI extender to boost the signals.

Along with location, the antenna position of the router also matters. If the antennas are positioned upwards, then signal throw will be greater in that direction. Therefore, place your antennas according to your perimeter area. Moreover, keep the surrounding area of the router clean and remove extra devices and objects.

If you have a big house or yard, then consider adding Wi-Fi access points (WAP) in different locations. Adding WAP's will create a mesh network, and all the devices will not connect to the central router. Mesh topology compromises speed but provides better connectivity.

Wi-Fi router with two antennas—higher signal throw upwards.

Check the Ethernet Cable

Usually, the problem lies in the wires of a network. There are higher chances of an Ethernet cable being damaged.

There are several reasons for cable damage and tear out. Some of them include:

  1. Mouse bites
  2. Natural disasters like floods, rain, fire, extreme temperatures
  3. Low-quality cable, i.e., cat 4 or 5.
  4. Alongside, there can be some intentional act behind the damage.

Therefore, look for a damaged Ethernet cable and replace it at the earliest.

The Ethernet cable is the network's backbone, and obviously, a damaged line will result in slow or null speed.

Moreover, check all the links, connectors, and devices between the connections from the central hub to your router. It is recommended to replace these things while replacing the Ethernet cable. 

Protect your Router with a Password

As a Network Security researcher, I recommend that you must implement security measures on network devices. This statement is also valid for home networks. Routers usually come with some default security settings and a public password on the vendor's website. Therefore, whenever you plug in a new router, change its default security settings and implement a strong password.

To change default security settings:

  1. Head over to your router's configuration page using a browser.
  2. The URL or address of that page can be found on the vendor's website or in the user manual.
  3. When on the configuration page, remember to lock your router and Wi-Fi channel
  4. Implement a strong password that includes alphanumeric characters and symbols.

D-Link router configuration page— users can change router settings and passwords

 Image source – f2help blog

Stop using a Free VPN

VPN—a virtual private network is a software that provides a secure tunnel to communicate with other devices and servers. As I mentioned above about the work from home—a new-normal. This requires employees to establish remote connections using a VPN to access the resources of an organization.

Free VPNs often provide slow speeds and compromised security. Therefore, it is suggested to use paid VPN services. Look for efficient and top-rated service providers in your region. Paid services provide much better speed and security. 

So, next time think before you use a free VPN for accessing stream sites or blocked content in your region.


Conclusion

Internet is now the most vital part of our lives. A fast, reliable, and secure connection is very much necessary for performing tasks smoothly on the Internet. I have discussed almost all the significant issues that would halt the speed and connectivity. The problems mentioned above are described in simple wording so that a novice user can correct them.

After solving the mentioned issues, if the problem remains there, call your ISP and ask them to send a team for diagnosis. An ISP must help the customer in such situations as they promise after-sales service. Moreover, you pay them for a stable connection, not a laggy one. So, always consult your ISP in such cases and ask them for help because they are the only savior.

Tags: 
Technology
Author
Ozair Malik
A passionate Cyber Security researcher and writer with a keen interest in Digital Forensics. A community worker running a insta blog to raise cybersecurity awareness among laymen.

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