Back To Basics: Why Your Broadband Is Slow

In internet times gone by, if a page was loading slowly, we’d have shrugged our shoulders. There was a time when looking at a single image was a half-hour task, though we’ve forgotten it as broadband and fiber speeds have made the dark days of 2000 seem a very long time ago.

Now, if our broadband is slow, then we’re furious – and we want answers. Before you jump on the phone to your provider and tell them they have ripped you off, there’s a few troubleshooting basics that we all have a tendency to forget. We insist to ourselves it can’t be those causes, without ever actually bothering to run through them.

Except…

Before we launch into the basics, if the problem is chronic, then it’s worth noting it might be your provider. This is the point where the speed you were promised, you realize, contains two horrible little words before it: “up to”. Not a guaranteed speed, but one they sort of hope you might be able to get… but of course, have no obligation to provide. Gotta love small print.

If your contract is up, then by all means shop around. Talk to your existing provider, browse through the best Verizon FiOS internet deals and see what might catch your eye. There’s no way of guaranteeing it’s not your provider that’s at fault, so there’s no harm in being aware, but most often the cause will be…

1. A Bad Connection

Even if you haven’t moved it from the day you installed it, there’s every chance there’s a loose link in your wiring. Go and check it. Yes, it’s annoying, and yes, it probably isn’t that – but it’s going to be the first question your provider asks you anyway. You might as well just do it.

This is a good time to try the speed by trying a wired connection if you usually connect with Wifi. That should give you a better idea if it’s an actual problem with the supply speed itself, or if the kink is coming elsewhere in the process.

2. TMI

TMI as in, there’s way too much information on your computer. Got thousands of tabs open? That alone might be your problem. Go on a shutdown spree; there are even apps that can make tab management easier. It’s always worth checking to see if you have video or audio playing on a tab you’re not using; sometimes they are automatically muted, so you might not necessarily know about them. Auto-playing media is one of the most annoying things about being online today, and that’s before you even get to the fact it could slow your connection to a crawl.

3. Wifi Interference

“But,” you may be thinking, “you told me to check it wasn’t a Wifi specific problem…”

That’s true, but if it is Wifi-specific, you still need to know what might be causing it.

There are a variety of things that can interfere with your Wifi connection, but the prime suspect is a cordless landline phone. Always try and install the cradle for such phones far from your router.

And if none of these provide an answer? Now you can call your provider.

About Will Chatham

Will Chatham is an Information Security Analyst, OSCP, Ethical Hacker, and Penetration Tester at a federal data center in Asheville, NC. Since Netscape 2.0, he has worked in a wide array of environments including non-profit, corporate, small business, and government. His varied background, from developer to search engine optimizer to security professional, has helped him build a wide range of skills that help those with whom he works and teaches.

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