Tracking Down Internal Causes Of Slow Internet

Posted on: 27 May 2016

When web browsing slows down, streaming videos skip and the download time for files creeps steadily into hours instead of winding down into minutes, figuring out what's wrong can be hard. Problems at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) aren't always the culprit, as it could be something going on with your computer or network at large. A few network performance issues should help you figure out the problem, or at least isolate the issue to a smaller area.  

Start At Your Computer As The Cause

Proper troubleshooting means managing the smallest problem area as possible. When compared to neighborhood or ISP-wide problems, your computer is one of the smallest complete systems to check.

Be sure that your internet speed is actually being affected by visiting an internet speed testing site and confirm your speed. The speed should be near your internet plan's advertised rate although some ISPs have contract language involved a best-effort minimum speed. 

If your speed is showing as advertised, but web browsing is still an issue, is it every website? If the problem only exists on a single website, the website or resource itself may be having performance issues. You'll want to look for online discussions or other platforms for the service (such as a technical support social media account or customer hotline) if you're in dire need of access or an answer.

Your computer may be performing slowly due to excessive resource use. This can happen when there are too many programs open at the same time or if you have a computer virus, meaning that all programs--including your web browser and any internet-using applications--may perform slowly regardless of the internet speed. 

Troubleshooting Equipment

Unless you own your equipment instead of leasing from the ISP, your modem, and/or router troubleshooting is limited to a few basic steps. It's a good idea to turn the modem on and off at least once a month to reset the routing tables for a more efficient experience.

Routing tables are recorded paths used to navigate to different parts of the internet (or any network) efficiently. When you visit websites or access any internet resources, the best path and alternate paths to a given destination are recorded in general terms.     

When the stockpile of routing tables becomes too big, the router slows down from having too much information to process. Routers are computing devices as well, but with limited purposes and components that can fill easily.

Although every router is different, it's generally a good idea to unplug the modem or router for about 30 seconds. The point of the delay is to allow the backup battery in the device lose energy and clear any settings that aren't permanently stored. Make sure that your router isn't hot to the touch as you unplug it, and be sure to clean any dust from the vents.

If your computer isn't overburdened, doesn't have a virus, isn't accessing a slow website and you've already reset your router, it's time to contact your ISP. Every ISP is different, so be sure to consult other ISP professionals, such as those from Solarus, to find performance in your area that works the way you need.