For many modern households, Wi-Fi is of tremendous importance. It’s how families stay in contact with each other, plan vacations, do homework and even start businesses.
With the rise of the Internet of Things, we rely on the digital assistants to operate appliances, play music, and keep track of our schedules. When your Internet connection isn’t working properly at home, it can cause everything to grind to a halt. Luckily, there are things you can do to fix the problem.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why your Wi-Fi may slow down. We’ll then look at how you can figure out what the problem is, and identify some potential solutions.
Why is My Home Wi-Fi So Slow All of a Sudden?
If your Internet speed used to be adequate but suddenly your videos are buffering for a long time, you need to investigate what’s going on. There are a number of factors that could have changed things on your network or in and around your home.
Worms and Malware
Worms or other malicious programs may have found their way into your computer network. If one of your computers is infected, the virus may be generating network traffic that isn’t immediately obvious. Even though you may not be doing anything heavy, extra bandwidth may be in use. You need to make sure your anti-virus software is up and running to prevent worms and other malware. If your internet at home has slowed down, scan all your family members’ devices.
A sudden slowdown in Internet speeds at home can also be due to some form of interference with your wireless signal. Interference makes your computer take longer to send messages. Signal interruptions can be caused by appliances like microwaves and even other wireless signals from your neighbors. A new family may have moved in next door or your neighbors may have moved their router. You may need to reposition yours to resolve the problems.
Some computer applications, including file sharing apps and games, run in the background of your system even when you aren’t using them. You may have allowed this to occur thinking it would make the programs start up faster and sync across devices. This does happen, but it can be at the expense of your Wi-Fi speeds. Games involving videos can be especially problematic. Check all your computers for these types of apps as you try to figure why your Internet at home is so slow.
Internet Service Provider Configurations or Difficulties
To a large extent, the speed of your Internet depends on your Internet service provider. Sudden slowdowns in speed may indicate that your ISP has changed the configuration of its network or is experiencing technical difficulties in your area. Sometimes ISPs also put caps on bandwidth. Reach out to your provider and find out if they have been making changes that would affect your Wi-Fi speeds at home.
This is a strange one but Christmas lights have been found to slow down Wi-Fi in homes. If it’s December and you’ve just put up your seasonal lights, that may be the problem. The electromagnetic field may be interacting with your wireless Internet bands. Flashing lights have been known to cause even more problems. Any electric lights can cause interference. It should not be too significant but you should still move your router away.
Troubleshooting Slow Wi-Fi at Home
The slow internet can be due to many factors. Whether your connection has suddenly become slow or it has been getting progressively worse, there are some things you must consider. They include:
- The variety of Internet connection you have - If you live in a rural area, you may have a dial-up connection. These are cheap but much slower than DSL, satellite and fiber optic connections. A dial-up connection at its optimum will still be comparatively slow.
- The Internet plan you signed up for - ISPs offer several plans at different price points. They have different upload and download speeds and the faster plans are usually the more expensive. If you chose a cheap plan, adding more users to the network or taking on more bandwidth-intensive activities can cause a slowdown.
- The age and sophistication of your device - Older tablets and desktop computers may move slowly even if your Internet connection at home is fast. They only have the capacity to do so much with their limited processing power.
- The time of day you’re using the Internet - If you live in an apartment building and everyone has the same ISP, the speed of your Wi-Fi may slow down when everyone is logged on. Try to use the Internet when fewer people are competing for limited bandwidth.
- The weather in your area - If you have satellite Internet, you should observe whether your connectivity problems are linked to the weather. Rain, snow or significant cloud cover can all affect satellite signals. There may also be physical objects blocking your satellite dish so you should clear it if necessary. That may get your Internet working faster at home.
- The distance between your router and your device - Your router’s range may not extend throughout your entire home. There may also be walls or other objects blocking its signal. Try moving things around to see if your connection improves.
- The presence of Bluetooth devices in your home - Bluetooth devices operate on the same frequency as wireless Internet. Modern devices should not interfere with each other, but it is possible. Try turning off the Bluetooth on your phone or tablet and see if the Internet speed in your home improves.
How to Fix Slow Internet at Home
Speeding up your Wi-Fi is not out of your family’s hands. To begin the process of getting your Internet moving faster:
- Run speed tests throughout the day - You need to know the upload and download speeds you are experiencing at home. You should conduct speed tests at different times of the day and on different days of the week. This will help you to see if there are any patterns. Maybe your Wi-Fi slows down on evenings when your children are at home and playing games. Maybe it’s when you download files for work early in the morning or only when it snows. Maybe you’ll realize your Internet at home is actually always slow. This research will help you if you need to contact a technician for advice or determine the speeds you will need from a new plan.
- Check all the devices in use by your family - Is it only your computer that’s struggling to load websites or is everyone affected? Maybe your spouse’s new device has no problems but the older ones are plagued by the slow Internet. You should also check all the necessary ports and cables to ensure that they are secure and not damaged or broken. Try using different devices and cables to see if the problem can be easily fixed. If it’s only one device with problems, it may have a virus or need a software or hardware update.
- Put your router in the best location - A router which is hidden in a cupboard may not work very well. You may also experience slow Internet speeds if your router is downstairs but everyone is using devices upstairs. Try to place it in a central location so the signal can be spread around. You should also try to elevate your router so the radio waves which spread outward and downward can reach the devices. You should also try not to place the router near metallic or reflective surfaces. Some appliances like microwaves can also cause signal interruption so you should move the router from near the kitchen. This is one of the simplest things you can do to speed up your Wi-Fi at home.
- Monitor the applications you use - You may need to look at the apps on your devices and see if any are using large amounts of bandwidth unnecessarily. Some games and file-sharing apps run in the background even when you don’t use them. This can have a significant impact on your connection. Try to pause these apps or change the settings so you can use the Internet for things you’re actively working on. Installing ad-blockers can also help to reduce the strain on limited bandwidth.
Contact Your ISP
Sometimes nothing else works and you simply need a new, faster plan. Reach out to your ISP and find out what they can offer you. Be sure to tell them how many devices will be connected to the network and what your family uses Wi-Fi for. If you frequently work from home or you need to upload and download videos, audio, and graphics, you will need a stable, reliable connection. Do not try to skimp on costs if your home needs proper Internet. You will only regret it later.
Slow Wi-Fi can affect every member of a household. The factors affecting internet speeds are numerous but conducting speed tests and troubleshooting your connections can be the start of finding a solution. Don’t underestimate how much of a difference it can make to simply move your router to a different location. Sometimes updating your devices is all that’s needed. Work your way through these suggestions before you resign yourself to always having slow Wi-Fi at home.