With the help of our IT Support team, I have written a few steps that should help you deal with slow home internet. We have all had it, and we all hate it. It also seems to happen whenever we have looming deadlines, or when we are trying to get something done in a hurry.
Here at Greenlight ITC we have a pretty darn quick internet connection– but we still run into the odd hiccup when we are trying to get work done from home. So here they are, our 7 ways to deal with a slow internet connection.
1. Test your speed
Maybe it is the fact we have grown accustomed to instant gratification. It has happened to me more than once where what I thought were slow speeds were perfectly reasonable, and I had just downed one too many macchiatos.
A great way to test your internet connection’s upload and download bandwidth is to visit the website www.speedtest.net and run a quick test.
After less than a minute, you will have a true measure of how your connection is faring. This is particularly useful as a benchmarking tool– next time you feel your connection may be slow, you will at least have something to compare it against.
2. Look Around
This point may seem obvious, but we often get so involved with what we are doing that we forget that others may be sharing our connection. Maybe your son is streaming movies from a perfectly legitimate site– knowing is half the battle won.
If you are connecting to the internet through a Wi-Fi network, you will also want to make sure your internet connection is secured. Many people do not bother changing their router’s security settings. Some good places to start are:
- Set up your router with WPA encryption (your router’s manual should be able to help with this and the rest of the steps)
- Change the default name (or ‘SSID’) and password of your Wi-Fi network
- If it is not too inconvenient, we recommend you do not make your Wi-Fi network public. The downside to this is that whenever a new device needs to connect to the network, they will have to manually type in the SSID and password to connect. It is usually worth it.
- Change the default administrator password on your router. If you have a label maker, stick the username and password under the router for future reference. If not, a bit of paper and some sticky tape will do.
3. Wi-Fi Issues
A quick way to figure out whether it is your internet connection/device that is to blame, or your Wi-Fi signal, is to connect to your modem or router using an ethernet cable. If your speed score stays about the same, you will at least have ruled Wi-Fi issues out and can proceed further along with the troubleshooting. If Ethernet is slow too, move on to Point 4. If not, read on:
Most home routers can only support 4 or 5 devices at any given time before performance begins to deteriorate. This can often include:
• Smart phones/iPod Touch
• Home entertainment centres
• Wi-Fi backup devices (e.g. Apple Time Capsule or equivalent)
If you notice that performance improves when disconnecting some of these devices from the Wi-Fi network, you may want to consider a higher end router. Radio interference from other devices can sometimes disrupt signals, causing interference and a slow connection. If you picked up a new device, try turning it off and seeing if it makes helps your connection.
Another common culprit is the humble brick– depending on where in the house you are sitting in relation to your router, solid walls can really bog down your connection speed. Cisco have a great app you can run from your laptop called Wi-Fi Mapper that will help you generate a ‘signal map’ of your premises, allowing you to determine if the router needs to be re-positioned, upgraded, or supplemented with signal repeaters.
4. Ethernet is slow too; time to check your computer
Apps and extensions are great. We are always installing the latest and greatest, but often they fall to the wayside and linger on your computer, hogging useful resources– and often slowing your connection. As an IT support company, this is something that comes up quite often. It is understandable, because these little apps try their hardest to not annoy the user, to the point where people actually forget they are installed!
Software such as BitTorrent, DropBox, Evernote– or really any apps that either download media or often need to synchronise with the cloud– can sometimes get in the way of you and that proposal for which you are sourcing materials. Take a look at your running applications to see if they give you any indication of what they are doing.
5. Limit rich digital media
It seems almost yesterday when even picture files took forever to load. At least, 30 seconds feels like forever these days. We have grown fond of video and glitzy animations, and our devices have become part of our entertainment repertoire. But, we have a proposal to write, and right now we can do without these distractions.
Some software you may want to consider using includes the AdBlock extension to most browsers, which will limit the number of advertisements you are bombarded with while surfing the web. It can easily be turned off and on, depending on what you need to do. FlashBlock is another app that blocks flash animations in quite the same way.
Sometimes you may just have to play the hand you are dealt with, and work smart. Before looking to escalate the troubleshooting to greater powers (your ISP, if you are at home) you may want to consider whether you can smell the roses and work offline. Maybe finish off the written copy for that proposal and use a placeholder for the parts you need to address when the internet gods are kinder.
One technique used by writers is to use the initials TK– it is an abbreviation for ‘to come’, but with the added bonus that the letters TK do not appear consecutively in any word in the english language. This means that doing a search for ‘TK’ will only jump you to the parts of your document you need to address at a later stage.
7. Call your ISP
Ok, so working offline is not an option. In this case, it is time to contact your ISP and run them through the steps you have taken. From personal experience, it pays to be courteous in spite of how frustrating the issue can be. IT support will usually go the extra mile if you try to remain calm and follow their troubleshooting procedures.
If you are using ADSL, the distance of your premises to the nearest telephone exchange may impact your internet’s potential speed. In these cases, you may wish to contact your service provider and ask their IT support whether there are options more suitable to your location.
Many people stick with their ADSL service for years, and may be losing out on plans that offer faster speeds, higher data—often with similar or even less expensive fees. If your current ISP cannot help you out, it may be time to shop around for a company that can serve you better. A handy web service for ISP comparison is Broadband Guide