With recent advancements in technology, Wi-Fi speed has improved significantly. However, it is not perfect. Many modern households that rely on Wi-Fi to stay connected, do homework, plan vacations, and run home businesses come to a grinding halt when the Wi-Fi slows down.
So, have you noticed your Wi-Fi slowing down? If yes, then there are a few things you must check to rectify the problem. The following is a list of 14 things that can slow down your Wi-Fi.
- Outdated router
- The router is out of range
- Wireless interference and noise
- Low-speed internet
- Problem with the device
- Worms and malware
- External factors
- Problem with the ISP
- Bandwidth hogging applications
- Internet theft
- Router/ wireless adaptor running on low power mode
- Device not receiving Wi-Fi signal
- Outdated network drivers
This article will share with you the different problems that can slow down your Wi-Fi and the remedies you can implement to fix them. Continue reading to find out the fixes for the most probable issues that are causing your Wi-Fi to slow down.
14 Things That Slow Down Your Wi-Fi – With Fixes
There are several reasons why Wi-Fi suddenly becomes sluggish. It could be because of the location of the router, issues with the firmware, signal congestion, etc. The variety of factors thus makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact problem. However, worry not as every problem has a solution. The following lists the common issues that cause Wi-Fi to slow down and how to fix them.
1. Outdated Router
Is your internet connection working at a snail’s pace even though you have opted for a high-speed plan? One of the problem areas you must check out is your router. Routers are designed and manufactured considering the maximum internet speed available to date. So, if you are using an outdated router, the chances are that it will not be able to handle the high-speed internet available today.
For example, if you have an old router that can handle a maximum internet speed of 100 Mbps and your internet plan consists of 150 Mbps, your router will not support the additional speed and will, therefore, waste 1/3rd of the bandwidth you pay for.
How to fix it?
- Upgrade your router
When you feel that your connection is slow, immediately check the router specifications to make sure that it can handle the high speed of your internet plan. If not, replace it with a new model.
If you are renting the router from your internet service provider, you can bring the problem to their attention. They will upgrade your router as an old router on their network not only slows you down but others, too.
2. Router is Out of Range
You may experience a slow connection in a room that is far from the place where the router is situated. This is primarily because the Wi-Fi signals become weaker as the distance between the device and router increases. The signals also become weak if they are separated by thick walls.
How to fix it?
- Move the device closer to the router
An instant fix to this problem is to move your device as closer to the router as possible. Although if you are not getting high-speed internet in your office space or any place that you usually browse the net from, moving around with your laptop or smartphone may not be an ideal solution.
- Buy range extenders or a second router
Using a range extender is the most favorable fix. These are auxiliary devices that boost the range of the router and transmit the signals to a larger area. Another option you can explore is buying a second router.
- Invest in a mesh system
You can also choose to invest in a mesh system that eliminates the dead zones. It consists of a set of tiny routers that sync with each other. They not only boost the signal but also increase the coverage area. By dispersing the mini routers in different rooms, you can access high-speed internet from anywhere. So, if you are willing to pay a premium price, you can enjoy the reliability and expandability of a mesh system.
3. Wireless Interference and Noise
You might have noticed that your internet connection gets dropped or slows down every time your old cordless phone is in use. This is because it operates on the same frequency as the Wi-Fi band and competes for the same airwaves. Many home electronic devices such as TV, wireless speakers, wireless cameras, baby monitors, etc. can interfere with your Wi-Fi signals and slow it down.
A microwave oven can also cause such problems as they operate on the 2.45GHz frequency band, which is near to the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band. Bluetooth devices also pose these problems for the same reason.
How to fix it?
- Move the router away from electronic devices
By moving the router away from the device causing the interference is an obvious solution to the problem. However, considering the number of electronic devices people typically own, this may not be a practical solution.
- Channel switching
The other alternative for this problem is channel switching. The Wi-Fi signals in an area are distributed over multiple channels. If a channel is congested with several connections, it will slow down the speed of the internet. To avoid this, change the channel of your router and choose one that is less crowded. Once done, all the devices connected to the router will automatically move to the new channel.
4. Low-Speed Internet
One of the biggest considerations while opting for an internet plan is the speed. This determines the pace at which you can perform tasks, how many tasks can be performed simultaneously and the number of devices that can be connected at a time. Therefore, if you opt for a plan with low speed, then you will encounter problems while playing games, streaming videos, and uploading files.
How to fix it?
- Upgrade your internet plan
The best way to deal with this problem is to upgrade your internet plan. Different ISP providers provide internet plans at varying price points. The plan with high-speed internet access usually costs more. However, you will soon discover that the additional cost is a worthwhile investment.
- Troubleshoot for other likely causes
If the speed is less despite a reasonably good plan, it is time to troubleshoot. The distance of the ISP hub from your place is also a factor that affects speed. So, if you are located far from the hub, it will take more time for the data to be transferred from the internet to your device.
Traffic congestion can also lead to slow speed. Removing idle devices from the network can speed up the connection. Also, check and replace any loose or worn out cables that may be possibly slowing down the speed.
5. Problem with The Device
Not all devices were created to support the high-speed internet connection that is available today. Older devices have slower processors and less RAM compared to the latest smartphones, computers, and tablets. Thus, you are bound to be slowed down while using an outdated system.
How to fix it?
- Replace the device with a new model
In cases like these, the problem is not with your internet connection. Instead, it is with your device. To check if this is indeed the case, do a speed test on your device. There are several free tools available online, such as Speedtest, that you can use for this purpose.
Once the test is completed, it will provide you with a report mentioning the upload and download speed. Compare these numbers with the speed of your internet plan. Also, perform speed tests on your newer devices.
If the speed is less only on your old device, then it is your system that is slowing you down. Upgrading to a device that is better equipped to run multiple processes and enables faster internet speed is the possible solution to this problem.
- Upgrade the RAM
If you still wish to continue with the old device, consider upgrading the RAM to give the system more horsepower.
6. Worms and Malware
If you notice that your Wi-Fi has suddenly slowed down, it is an indication that your system has contracted a virus. The decrease in speed may be because of the several processes being executed by the malware in the background.
Wondering how the virus entered your system? Well, when you click on a suspicious email or website, there is a possibility of malicious programs like worms and malware getting downloaded on your system. They, in turn, infect the device and slow down the internet. As a precautionary measure, avoid downloading apps from unsecured sites.
How to fix it?
- Use anti-virus software
You can use anti-virus software on your system and run a periodic scan to remove such threats and speed up the internet. If you do not have access to the paid version, use free basic software. However, do note that it will not provide as much protection as the paid anti-virus software.
- Seek the help of a professional
If your Wi-Fi is still slow, it may be caused by malware that did not get deleted even after a virus scan. Therefore, to remove the malware, you can either seek the help of a professional or reset your system.
- Reset your device
By resetting the system, you can bring it back to the state it was before the malware entered the system.
- Install manufacturer updates
Make sure to install all the updates issued by the system manufacturer as they contain useful security upgrades that help to secure your system from threats.
7. External Factors
Have you ever wondered why your Wi-Fi works well in certain parts of your house and has poor reception in others? This could be because of the materials used for building the walls or other room dividers. Certain building construction materials such as cement, bricks, metal, plaster, etc., absorb or reflect the radio waves that form the wireless signals, thus slowing down your internet.
How to fix it?
- Set-up the router in a central place
To overcome this problem, place the router at a central location. Also, the signal reception is much better when it is placed at a higher location. You can also try adjusting the antennas on the router to increase the performance. If the router has internal antennas, place it so that it stands up tall instead of lying down flat.
- Use Ethernet cables and signal boosters
Using Ethernet cables can also increase Wi-Fi speed. Since they are wires, you can navigate them over, under, or around any physical obstruction. This way, you can get high-speed internet access at any place you want. This is a popular solution because Ethernet cables are convenient and cost-effective.
However, it is worth noting that these cables have a maximum length of 100 meters and steps must be taken to ensure that it does not get unplugged from the router. It is also necessary to tape the cables along the walls to prevent an accidental fall. You can also use signal boosters to speed up the Wi-Fi.
When several users and devices try to connect to a Wi-Fi network at the same time, the internet speed slows down drastically. Data-hungry applications such as online games, movie streaming, video chats, etc. also bring down the speed.
How to fix it?
- Enable the quality of service feature
One way of getting around the problem of congestion is to enable the Quality of Service (QoS) setting on your router. This setting allows you to prioritize the apps that access the bandwidth. For example, if your work requires you to do lots of video calls, you can prioritize video calls and deprioritize other activities such as downloading a file from the cloud.
- Select a different channel
Another way of easing the congestion is by performing channel selection on the router. By default, several wireless routers are preconfigured to operate on channel 6. Thus, your neighbor’s Wi-Fi may also be on the same channel and adding to the congestion. Use a Wi-Fi scanner to identify and switch over to a channel that has less traffic.
- Switch to 5 GHz frequency band
If you own a relatively newer model of router, it will have the option of toggling between two frequencies, namely 2.4 GHz (the old standard) and 5 GHz (the latest standard). There are 14 channels on the 2.4 GHz frequency band and 30 channels on the 5 GHz frequency band. Therefore, the router can choose from 44 stations and switch to a channel that has more bandwidth, thereby increasing the Wi-Fi speed.
9. Problem with The ISP
If you experience slow down during a time of day, it is probably caused your internet service provider (ISP). It may be facing issues due to increased traffic during peak hours. Also, as part of network management, ISPs sometimes create artificial congestion by slowing the rate at which data moves on its network.
How to fix it?
- Contact customer care
These are temporary problems and usually resolves on its own. If it persists, then contact your ISP’s customer service. They will inform you about the problem and give an estimated time for resolving the issue. They may even send over an agent to take a look at your router and device.
10. Bandwidth Hogging Applications
Some applications quietly run in the background even when the system is not in use. You may have granted permission to do so with the hope that it will start the program faster and sync with other devices. All this does happen but at the cost of Wi-Fi speed.
How to fix it?
- Schedule system updates when the device is idle
A background activity that notoriously downloads and installs updates is Windows. To avoid this problem, schedule updates when you are not using the system. You can also limit the bandwidth that can be used for the update by modifying the settings.
- Restrict the upload and download rates
Another activity that consumes lots of bandwidth is file-syncing. They slow down the speed while moving data in the background. You can set a restriction on the upload and download rates, which will help to free up some bandwidth.
Video streaming and gaming also need significant bandwidth to run smoothly. Some games even download and run patches without additional intervention or approval. So, if you notice that your Wi-Fi has slowed down check if the game is downloading patch file that may be of a few gigabytes
- Use ad-blockers
Online ads, videos, and animations also consume bandwidth. Install extensions such as AdBlock Plus to block these.
- Start a task manager
To know the different processes running on your system you can run Task Manager. This will show you a list of all processes currently active on your device. Search for any 3rd party application that you did not start and end the process. If you notice a suspicious process, check online to get more details about it.
11. Internet Theft
If you are sure that there no background apps running and your Wi-Fi is still slow, it may be because someone is stealing it. If you have secured your connection using a weak password or have opted not to use a password, it provides easy access for internet thieves to piggyback on your Wi-Fi.
Not only does your Wi-Fi slow down, but you are also at risk as your private and confidential data such as credit/debit card details, email passwords, etc., can be stolen. At the very least, the thief can use your network connection to get internet access at their place without spending a penny.
How to fix it?
- Find all the systems on your Wi-Fi network
There are free online apps such as Wireless Network Watcher and Find Users that you can use to see which systems are using your Wi-Fi. These apps will give you the IP addresses of all the devices on your network. Take action against those you do not recognize by disconnecting them.
- Change the password
To prevent someone from stealing your Wi-Fi, you must change the password of your router. You can contact your internet service provider to know the default password and then change it to something that is not easy to crack. You must also enable the encryption option. Using WPA2 with AES is highly recommended to secure your Wi-Fi.
- Install firmware updates
Regularly upgrade your router’s firmware. Install the updates as they contain preventive programs and security patches that will protect your router from hacking. The updates will also give you access to the latest features and improvements. Do remember to save all your files while installing the firmware updates as the system will restart.
12. Router/ Wireless Adaptor Running On Low Power Mode
Several routers have a built-in option to run on low power mode. While operating in this mode it consumes less power and saves electricity. The downside to this is that it decreases the signal strength and thus slows down the Wi-Fi.
How to fix it?
- Disable low power mode on the router
Some routers are set to work on this mode by default. Therefore, check your router to see if this feature has been enabled. If yes, disable it. Different interfaces may have different labels, however, look for options similar to “low power mode” or “eco mode”, etc., and set it to the maximum.
- Enable maximum performance on the wireless adapter
As with the router, if you set your Windows OS to run on power-saving mode, it will transmit less power to the wireless adapter, too. This will also slow down your Wi-Fi. To fix this problem, go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Change Advanced Power Settings > Wireless Adaptor Settings and turn on Maximum Performance.
The low power mode stretches a device’s battery life. Therefore, if you set it on maximum performance, it will drain the battery at a faster rate. Thus, always keep your charger near you while using this mode so that you can plug it in when the need arises.
13. The Device is Not Receiving Wi-Fi Signal
The Wi-Fi on your device may be slow because it is not receiving the signal properly. To check if this indeed is the case, try to use Wi-Fi on your other devices. If those devices are working fine, then you must try to troubleshoot why the device is not receiving the signal.
How to fix it?
- Identify the cause
You can try the below steps to locate the cause and rectify the problem on the primary device:
- Check if the Wi-Fi button is turned off. If yes, turn it on to connect to the network.
- Check if the device is on airplane mode. If yes, disable it.
- Restart the device and try connecting to the Wi-Fi.
- Unplug the router and reset it after 15-30 seconds later.
- Check if the Wi-Fi network is protected by a password. If yes, use the correct password to gain access.
- Delete the network from the saved network list and reconnect again.
If none of the steps work, then the problem is more severe than expected. The reduced speed may be caused by a faulty Wi-Fi receiver or a security breach such as a virus or malware. In this case, you must seek professional help right away.
14. Outdated Network Drivers
To connect to the internet, the computer makes use of a network adapter which is in turn backed by network drivers. The main purpose of the network drivers is to allow the software and the hardware of your device to communicate with each other.
On a Windows operating system, the latest version of network drivers is automatically pushed to the system. However if for some reason, the update has not happened it may result in out of date and incompatible network drivers. This can cause the Wi-Fi to slow down.
How to fix it?
- Update the network drivers
If you are using a Windows OS, you can update the driver manually going into the Device Manager, choosing the Network Adapter that needs to be updated, and updating that driver.
Mac owners can check if their network drivers are up to date by clicking on System Preferences > Software Update > Update Now. If the update now icon is not available, it means that the system is already up to date.
It can be quite challenging to identify the cause of your slow Wi-Fi. However, troubleshooting any connection problem and conducting speed tests can be a start to finding an answer to the problem. Merely changing the position of the router and updating your device can bring about significant improvements in speed.
Work your way through all the suggestions listed above to improve the speed of your Wi-Fi. If problems persist, reach out to your internet service provider. The low speed may be caused by a technical outage or a change in their network configuration. Also, it is highly recommended not to skimp on costs and buy an internet plan that can handle your requirements well.