You pay your ISP good money each month for so-called “blazing fast” Internet access, yet some days your connection just doesn’t measure up to the hype. Have you been ripped off or is there an underlying issue that needs to be resolved? A number of factors could affect your connection speed, some of which resolve themselves. Others may need intervention.
- Heavy Usage – If your broadband connection is shared by multiple devices, its performance can suffer with heavy usage. For example, if you’re streaming movies, your spouse is uploading reports, and your children are playing online games while another connected computer is silently downloading updates, the overall performance of the broadband connection will likely suffer due to the demands being placed on it.
- Heavy Neighborhood Usage – Broadband infrastructures are typically shared. While your home network may be its own secured entity, it connects to a broader system shared by your neighbors. You may notice performance differences at certain times of the day or week.
- Router Issues – If you are using an older router, it may not be able to handle the full speed offered by your broadband service provider. In addition to the router’s capabilities, your router may not be configured optimally for your service. Check with your service provider to find out if your router is compatible for its service and if you need to configure it a specific way. In general, wireless routers tend to be slower than wired ones. If you have a wireless router that has Ethernet connections, consider placing it near your primary computer and connecting that computer physically.
- Computer Spyware – Computer spyware is a malicious type of program that installs itself on computers without the user’s knowledge. Once installed, it works in the background carrying out its malicious programming. Oftentimes, spyware is programmed to send information over the Internet when the infected computer is connected to the Internet. For example, an infected computer may be used to send massive quantities of spam to other computers. This heavy usage takes place without your knowledge, but you may notice some telltale symptoms such as sluggish computer performance and a slow broadband connection.
- Throttling – Some broadband providers use a practice known as “throttling” to regulate network traffic and minimize congestion. This means that the broadband connection speed is intentionally slowed down by the ISP for any number of reasons such as to prevent a server crash or to penalize a user for excessive bandwidth consumption.
What can you do about slow broadband connections? Start by monitoring your connection at different times of the day and week. Speed tests are readily available online, making it easy to find out your connection’s speed. As you monitor the speed, can you see any patterns or is the speed consistent? Next, use a good computer security product on all connected devices to protect your systems from spyware. Contact your service provider’s technical support department to troubleshoot performance issues and find out if it the service is subject to throttling.