How to Test a Slow Internet Connection — TechVirtuosity

Slow Internet is an Agitating Problem

The problem with slow internet is that it can be caused by one of several issues. Sometimes your internet connection might also be intermittent which can make it harder to find the cause. In this guide I’ll show you how to test a slow internet connection and fix some common problems!

Is Your ISP The Cause?

This one is fairly easy to test. While none of the below methods can absolutely guarantee anything (due to the complexity of some networks), in most cases we can figure this one out!

Your internet service provider, or ISP for short, can often have an impact on your speeds. A quick way to test this is to connect your computer or internet device directly into your modem. The modem is that box the ISP hooked up for you, but sometimes they are a router/modem combo. Modems are the devices that generally have an internet light or some other indicator. But most importantly they have a direct connection or a cable that is not found on your router. Look at the photo below for an example of this.

After you directly connect to your modem you should run a speed test! But make sure you unplug your router or anything else that is connected to the modem (you only want one device connected). After you do that, this website does a great job for a speed test but you can always check others — The key here is to run the test directly connected to the modem and then to run it again on your Wi-Fi network.

If the speed stays the same then we know the problem is likely your ISP or in some cases maybe your modem. If it’s much slower on your Wi-Fi then we’ll go over how to run tests on that below. But if you think it’s the modem then skip ahead past the next section.

Diagnosing Router Problems

Your router is often the cause of most internet speed headaches! Whether it’s cheap, old or too many users, there’s a way to help you navigate this. The first step is to figure out how many devices are on your network.

-Too Many Users

Be sure to include mobile devices, smart devices or anything else that relies on your home network. Sometimes if you have children this can be the cause if they use use third party programs or websites meant to speed up downloads. Watching shows through your internet can also have an impact. If you have a cheaper router then it might be getting overwhelmed. I find that most routers around the price of $80-$120 can easily support 4–6 people and all their devices.

-Older Router

Another problem can be an aging router. Most newer routers will be sold with the newest technology, depending on your price range. But what slows down a router will typically just be aging components. Here’s a website that will show you how to properly ping using the command window in Microsoft Windows, if you want to be a little more technical! — Ping Test. If the router has a lot of packet loss or slow speeds then you should probably replace it!

-Limited Range

Routers have a limited range. Determining whether the slow speed is when you are beside the router or on the other side of your house can play a major role. You might need a mesh network if you find that your connection is only slow at a distance.

How to Test Slow Internet Connection With The ISP

Your ISP can be the cause, whether it’s the modem they gave you or their own connection speed. Before you decide to go off calling them it’s important to run a couple of tests or gather more information.

If it’s a modem they gave you then it’s probably not new. When their customers change services or move far away, they typically return the modem. That same modem they may have had for five years is now yours. This means that the modem could be the culprit for the packet loss if you do a ping test (mentioned above).

Another reason your internet might be slow is due to the time of day. Weekends or other peak times can affect your speed. If you pay for the cheaper speed options they offer then you are probably not a priority. By purchasing faster speeds you can almost guarantee yourself that the peak times will still be usable.

The trick on how to test slow internet connection mostly relies on the willingness of your ISP if it’s the modem. Most of them will deny there being a problem which won’t make your job any easier! Sometimes it’s easier to buy a new modem of your own instead of using theirs, plus most of them charge you a fee for using their modem anyway.

A Couple of Other Possibilities

Your internet speed can be affected by many different factors. Keep in mind that viruses can also slow down your network and devices. Malwarebytes is a great program that can scan your system and help you to figure out if you have any threats.

Another possibility is that your network isn’t password protected. When you setup your wireless network make sure you also setup a password! The default options are not safe especially if you live in an apartment. There is a high chance someone will be trying to connect to your internet for free! Be sure to follow your router instructions and create a new password.

Slow Internet Connection is Fixable!

It’s important to not give up! It’s possible to find the cause and to get your fast speeds again. I’ve had to switch out my internet service provider when they are unwilling to provide the speeds I paid for. Some companies are great and others are not so much.

By running the tests I’ve mentioned above you can start to discover what might be the cause. There are of course many other methods and techniques out there but I’m trying to keep it simple this time!

Do you have any great ways to test or fix your internet? Do you have an interesting story you’d like to share? Feel free to drop a comment below!

Originally published at on August 1, 2020.



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