Why Is My WiFi So Slow?
Wireless internet seems like a need rather than a want these days. Whether it’s for work or play most of us require the web’s functionalities during our day to day life. Staying in touch with friends, researching a school project, or getting through your 9 to 5, it’s hard to imagine a time when the internet wasn’t a ubiquitous feature of our lives. But it wasn’t so long ago that almost half of Americans didn’t even use the web. In fact, as recently as the year 2000, only 52% of adults in America were online. By 2018, that number had jumped to 89%.WiFi is partially responsible for that dramatic surge because it made it easier for users to access the internet. In fact, public WiFi hotspots helped to democratize the web because it provided an opportunity for people to connect in places like libraries and cafes. What about your home WiFi? The convenience of having the internet at your fingertips is important and for many expected. However, we all know that there’s also nothing more frustrating than a slow or spotty WiFi connection. A slow connection or one that works intermittently can mean excessive buffering time while you’re trying to stream television shows, improperly loading sites, and other distracting interruptions. An occurrence here and there doesn’t make too much of a difference to most users. However, over time these constant WiFi problems can make anybody frustrated enough to want to get off the grid. If your WiFi issues are getting you to this point and the fact that you’re reading this article says they are, read on to learn a little bit about common problems and how to fix them.
What Are the Reasons For a Poor WiFi Signal?
Are you disappointed with the speed of your internet? Do you find connectivity to be spotty in places? Don’t call a professional just yet because you can boost WiFi in your home in many ways. Before we dive into how to fix your WiFi it’s helpful to understand the common problems that arise with a wireless internet connection in general. Here are some typical issues you might experience related to your home router, internet provider, and channel congestion among other complications.
ISP Data Limitations
Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do regarding your internet service provider especially if you’re already locked into a contract for a set period of time. When you’re deciding on an internet service provider pay attention to the terms and conditions. Why? Because hidden in the small print could be a policy allowing the company to throttle speed for users who surpass a certain amount of data usage. For example, you might be categorized as a “high volume internet user” if you’re streaming a lot of high definition videos. If there’s a particular limit set by your ISP that you exceed the internet company could slow down your internet until it’s loading at a crawl. If you do find there’s a threshold for downloading content in your service agreement your best bet is switching providers unless you can lasso in your data usage to stay within your fast connection speed.
Wireless Network Range
Make sure you know your router’s maximum field of reach because it can affect your devices’ ability to connect as well as the quality of the connection. Your WiFi signal extends in a series of concentric circles that emanate from the router. As you move farther away the signal gets weaker. Most routers can have a spread of between 100 feet and 150 feet. Your router’s packaging and manual should give you the specific number. If you’ve lost those items look up the model number on the internet to find its range. Move devices closer to the router if you suspect a range issue or move the router to a more centralized location.
Furniture, walls, and appliances can negatively affect your router’s signal. Position the router so it’s as free from obstructions as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to knock down walls. Just use your common sense and don’t place the router in a closet or behind large furniture. Try to put the router on a high shelf rather than anywhere low to give it the best chance of sending out a high quality unimpeded signal.
Too Many Devices
Have you ever noticed that when you’re working at a coffee shop filled with people busily typing away on their laptops the connection to WiFi is abysmally slow and spotty? There’s a reason for that. Home networks and many public hotspots utilize a single wireless access point. This access point has limitations on how many people and devices can be connected to it at once. If there are too many people or devices the connection can drop or be unreliable. You might have even experienced maxing out your internet abilities at home if you’ve ever had multiple devices connected to WiFi while downloading a video or watching Netflix. The access point becomes overloaded and creates delays and annoying interruptions for the end user. There are ways to solve this as we will discuss later.
Problem: My Connection Is Slow
Is your internet slower than molasses on a cold winter’s day? Try these quick fixes. Solution 1: Change the position of your router. As mentioned before your router should be in as high of a position as possible in a central location in your home. Keep your router several feet away from the modem. If you find that you’re too far away from your router try to maintain a direct line of sight between the router and your main internet connected item like your laptop. It’s simple: if you can see your router that means the WiFi signal isn’t being obstructed by walls. Solution 2: Bring your devices closer to the router or use a range extender if you suspect range issues. Bring your device closer to the actual router. Or you can use a range extender or amplifier to add coverage to weak signal spots in your home. Solution 3: Check for signal interruptions. Your router may use the identical wireless channel (2.4 GHz) as other wireless items in your home resulting in a dampened WiFi signal. To encourage a stronger signal either move or turn off any of the items below: Cordless phone, microwave, baby monitors, security alarms, television remote controls, and automatic garage door openers. Solution 4: Check to make sure your router is using the best channel. Most modern routers are dual band so they feature both a 2.4 GHz channel and a 5 GHz channel. Have a dual band router? If it’s not automatically set choose the 2.4 GHz WiFi for maximum reach. To connect to your WiFi network, open up your computer or mobile phone’s WiFi menu. The 2.4 GHz channel will simply be WiFi network's name and the 5 GHz channel label will have a trailing “5 GHz” or “media” on its label. With the 5 GHz channel you’ll experience faster downloads and reliable internet. The major drawback is that the range of the signal is drastically reduced to between one third and one half of the range of a 2.4 GHz channel.
Problem: No Internet Connection
The dreaded “No Internet” symbol has been taunting you from your taskbar. What do you do next? Solution 1: Unplug and restart. If you have no internet at all you might be dealing with an unusual malfunction in the router or modem. They may have stopped communicating with one another for an unknown reason. Disconnect or power down both. After waiting thirty seconds, turn them both on and be patient while they reboot. Solution 2: Call your ISP. Another reason for a lack of internet could be a service outage. For this issue your best bet is to go to the nearest WiFi hotspot to tell your ISP that you’ve been affected by the outage. Or give them a call. This won’t make your internet return any faster but it will give your internet service provider an idea of what region or area had the outage.