When it comes to getting the best internet speeds possible, there are many variables to consider. And when something goes wrong with your system and you start to experience unusually slow internet speeds, the troubleshooting process can be complicated and overwhelming.
That’s why we created The Ultimate Guide to Internet Speed and Connectivity. We’ll take you through what you need to know about the internet step-by-step, so you can troubleshoot your system and improve your slow internet.
The internet speed test is your go-to tool that will help you through the process of measuring and troubleshooting your internet speed. The speed test can tell you the exact speeds that you’re getting at a particular time, which is the first step in telling what issues may be affecting your internet. Performing speed tests is easy with Speedcheck, and the records of each test you perform will be conveniently stored so you can review them all later.
Are you having internet problems? Are you dealing with slow internet, or web pages that take unusually long to load? There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting and waiting – and waiting! – for a page to load, or dealing with internet so slow that it’s actually lagging behind you. Luckily, an internet speed test is easy to perform, and can give you some ideas about what may be going on.
We’ll provide some guidance about how to troubleshoot your slow internet connection, but let’s start with the most important tool: The speed test.
When your internet seems slow, an internet speed test is one of the tools that you will need to troubleshoot just what is causing the sluggish performance. A speed test is essentially an internet speed meter that gives you an actual reading on how fast your computer is downloading and uploading data to the internet.
Having these concrete measurements is important, because slow download and upload speeds may point to an issue with your internet service provider, or potentially a router problem. On the other hand, if a speed test reveals that your internet speeds are normal, this can indicate that there may be an issue with the website you are trying to access, or that perhaps your internet speeds aren’t great enough to support the type of browsing that you do.
Internet speed tests are easy to perform, take just a few seconds, and are free to run with Speedcheck.
Checking your internet speed is as simple as heading to Speedcheck.org, clicking the blue “Start Test” button, and letting the test run. Wait until the test completes, and then you will see three measurements reflected across the top of your screen:
It’s important to regularly check your internet speed for a number of reasons:
In order to get a sense of what your internet speeds actually are, you’ll need to run multiple speed tests at different times of the day. With Speedcheck.org, all of your previous speed tests are recorded, so you can conveniently view the results all at once.
For instance, let’s say that your ISP contract says you’ll receive download speeds of 50Mbps and upload speeds of 10Mbps. You run a number of tests and find that you get download speeds of 48.9Mbps and upload speeds of 9.4Mbps. Those speeds are perfectly fine, and are quite close to the promised speeds. However, if you run tests and find that instead of getting download speeds of 50Mbps, you’re only getting a download speed of 4.5Mbps, that difference will significantly impact your internet’s functionality and indicates that there is a problem somewhere within the system.
Unusually slow download or upload speeds can indicate an issue with your internet service provider, your connection, or may simply occur during a time of day when many people are using the internet. If you run multiple tests and find that your speeds are consistently slow, then this may indicate an issue that you need to address if you want to be able to browse the internet without delays, having to wait for pages to load, or running into buffering issues when watching videos.
Understanding your internet speed is just one step in troubleshooting your slow internet. The more that you understand about the internet speeds you’re working with, the faster you’ll be able to determine what issues may be causing slow speeds or poor performance. From there, you’ll be able to fix your internet problems and improve the performance (and reliability) of your internet.
But what is Mbps, exactly? And how do you fix your slow internet connection? Here’s some information you’ll need to know and some additional tools to help you speed up your internet connection.
To troubleshoot your slow internet, you need to understand some information about the different internet connection types. From the different ISPs you can choose from to how internet speed is measured, here is the detailed information that explains how your internet works. We’ll also cover the differences in download and upload speeds, so you can use your speed test results to better understand how fast your internet is working.
Let’s start with a quick overview of how the internet works, so you can understand what we’re trying to do as we troubleshoot your internet problems.
Devices, like computers, cell phones, and tablets, connect to the internet through a number of different ways, including a wire buried in the ground, cellular connections, or even through a satellite. Once connected, the computers can talk to each other, and you can share and view information with others all over the world in just seconds.
In order to connect to the internet, your device can connect through an Internet Service Provider (an ISP) or by using your mobile phone’s cellular data by tethering your device to the internet. When you tether a device with your cell phone, you essentially turn your phone into a mobile hotspot. Only certain carriers and plans allow tethering, and you need to be aware that using your phone as a hotspot will eat into your data plan. Mobile phone carriers such as Verizon, Cricket, and Sprint offer plans that allow for tethering.
When it comes to your internet service provider, you can choose the company you use, much as you choose your mobile phone carrier. Common ISPs include Comcast, Cox, or Time Warner Cable. Different ISP providers offer different types of internet, such as dial-up, broadband, and DSL. We’ll go into more detail on that in a bit, since the type of connection you have will also affect the way that your computer or smartphone actually accesses the internet.
Once you sign up with an ISP and your service begins, your computer will be assigned an Internet Protocol, or IP address. This address, which is made up of a series of numbers with periods in between, helps to identify your computer and all of your online activity.
When your computer is connected to your ISP and you have your IP address (this is usually automatic, and isn’t something you have to generally worry about), you can access the internet, visit websites, send emails, and more.
The problem is, if any one part of the system breaks, you won’t be able to access the internet. And if your internet speed is too slow, then even simple browsing can become tedious, or you might not even be able to access particular websites. Often, you won’t know what part of the entire system that makes up your connection has gone down. And that’s where the troubleshooting comes in.
It’s important to realize that ISPs (internet service providers) don’t all provide the same internet service in terms of cost, download speeds, and upload speeds. All ISPs are different, so you’ll need to carefully consider the aspects that are most valuable to you. Remember, many ISPs require you to sign a minimum 2-year contract, so make this decision carefully – you could be stuck with your ISP for a while.
While evaluating your ISP options, don’t forget to take some time to look up reviews of their services. Reviews can give you eye-opening information about factors like the reliability, technical support, and overall performance of an ISP that you might not otherwise know about.
One of the most important differences between ISPs is the fact that they provide different download and upload speeds. These speeds have a direct influence on how well you will be able to browse the internet, and may be one of the reasons why your internet is so slow.
In addition to considering the speed that an ISP offers, think about the following factors, too:
There’s another important factor in choosing your ISP: It’s the internet connection type that you want to have.
Internet speed can be measured a number of ways, but most of the ratings you’ll see refer to Mbps.
The higher the rating, the faster the internet.
Let’s focus on Mbps for the moment. What’s normal? What’s not?
Internet contracts offered by ISPs are usually staggered by download speed. Through most of the world, contracts start around 3Mbps and increase from there to speeds of 10Mbps, 20Mbps, 50Mbps, 100Mbps, 200Mbps, 500Mbps, and, in some cities, even to 1000Mbps (1Gbps).
To get a sense of what your internet speed is, you’ll need to consider how you’re connecting your device to your modem. Conventional Ethernet cables can support either 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps) speeds. Depending on how fast your internet connection to your ISP is, then either the internet connection or the Ethernet connection could potentially be a bottleneck. For instance, if you’re paying your ISP for a 500 Mbps connection, but you’re using a 100 Mbps Ethernet cable to connect to your modem, this Ethernet cable will slow your connection speed down to 100 Mbps, even though you’re paying for a faster speed. On the other hand, if you pay only for a 50 Mbps connection but you use a gigabit Ethernet cable, the cable will be overkill, because your internet speeds from your ISP are so much slower than what the cable can accommodate.
You don’t necessarily need to use an Ethernet cable to connect your computer to your modem or router though. If your device supports WiFi like most laptops and smartphones, you can connect to the modem wirelessly with WiFi. In this case, you’ll have two connections: Your device connects to the modem via WiFi, and the modem connects to your ISP. Either of these connections could slow down your internet speeds. This means that you’ll need to make sure to choose a WiFi router that supports the speeds that your ISP delivers. Remember, too, that the distance that you’re located from the router can also slow your speed, so it’s best to have a router that supports at least twice the speed that your ISP delivers.
So, is your internet speed fast enough? And what is a good internet speed?
This gets tricky, in that there is no one “good” internet speed. The speed that will work for you depends on many factors, including how you use the internet, the types of sites you access, and how much downloading and uploading that you do. For instance, if you browse the internet a few times a day to check your news sites, check the weather, and use your email, you won’t necessarily need the same speeds that an internet user who uploads many photos, watches Netflix daily, and enjoys online gaming will require.
Your ISP may advertise particular download and upload speeds, but that doesn’t mean that your internet will consistently be available at those speeds. The factors mentioned above may slow down the speeds, so it’s important that you manually test your internet speed.
Using Speedcheck gives you a real-time reading on the exact internet speeds that you’re getting. Speedcheck provides data on both your download and upload speeds, which is valuable information when troubleshooting your internet connection problems.
With Speedcheck, testing internet speed takes just a few seconds. If you suspect that your speeds are dropping off during the day, then perform multiple tests. Speedcheck will record your results, so you can access and review all of them in the future in your history. Slower speeds can explain some common internet problems you may experience, and identifying that the problem is a speed issue can help you to troubleshoot the problems you’re experiencing.
We’ve talked a bit about internet speeds, and by now you probably understand that faster speeds lead to faster browsing and a better overall internet experience. But when you’re troubleshooting a slow internet connection and find yourself needing to run an internet speed test, you’ll benefit from knowing a bit more about internet speeds and how they affect your browsing.
When we refer to “internet speeds,” we’re actually talking about two speeds: Download speeds and upload speeds.
Download speed refers to how fast your computer is able to download information from the internet. When you’re watching a video, loading a website (especially one that contains lots of photos), or downloading a document, your download speed is what dictates how much time each task takes.
Upload speed, on the other hand, refers to the process of uploading content from your computer to the internet. When you upload a photo, document, or video to a website or email, your upload speeds affect the amount of time that it will take.
When you’re browsing the internet, most of your activity consists of downloading, rather than uploading. Because of this, many ISPs offer packages that feature faster download speeds and slower upload speeds.
The average internet user won’t heavily rely on upload speeds, but there are some people who do. For instance, if you work with large files, such as videos or photos, and frequently upload large amounts of these files, then you may need a service that offers a faster-than-usual upload speed.
Your internet connection has a significant impact on how fast your internet will function. With so many different connection types to choose from, we’ve provided the highlights that you need to know to make an informed decision. But the internet connection isn’t all – you also need a router capable of handling the speeds offered by your internet connection. We’ve included some tips on choosing the right router for your needs so you don’t inadvertently slow down your internet.
Remember how we explained that your computer can connect to the internet in a number of different ways? These internet connection types can also affect the speed and functionality of your internet service. Some ISPs offer just one or two of these internet connection types, so you’ll need to understand the pros and cons to each connection method.
With some of these connection types being faster than others, it’s important to choose the fastest connection type available in your location if you want to maximize your internet speed.
Your computer connects to your ISP, and that gives it access to the internet. Pretty simple, right? Well, if you decide to use a wireless router to create a WiFi signal in your home or business, you add another level of complexity to the setup – and another place where things can go wrong, and you can slow down your internet. Still, there are plenty of reasons to use a wireless router in your home.
Simply put, a wireless router gives you versatility in how you use the internet in your house. Without such a router, you need to connect your computer directly to your modem by using an ethernet cable. You’re literally attached to the modem, so if you have a laptop, you can’t walk around with it while you’re using the internet. With a router, you can connect multiple devices, like your laptop, phone, and a tablet, to the internet at the same time. (Most ISPs offer modems that are also wireless routers, so you may not have to purchase a router if this is the case.)
Wireless routers are great for many reasons, but their functionality can be affected by a number of factors that you’ll need to keep in mind:
If you need to buy a router, then you’ll need to choose the option that is right for your needs. Routers aren’t all made the same, and the router can actually affect your download and upload speeds, potentially slowing down your computer.
Router speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps); the higher the rating, the faster the router. You’ll find routers with speeds ranging from 54 Mbps to high-performance routers that boast speeds greater than 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps).
How much does a router’s speed matter? Well, it depends a bit. Buying a router with a significantly low speed can slow your internet connection. However, buying a router that offers a speed greater than the internet speed your ISP provides won’t actually speed up your connection. In short, it’s best to buy a speedy router, but don’t think that investing high-performance routers will make your internet faster if your ISP doesn’t offer those top speeds, too.
There’s another factor you need to consider when evaluating a router: the router’s technology standards. Wireless network devices, like routers, are measured according to technology standards. These standards are identified by the numbers 802.11, which are followed by a letter. The number and letter combination is used to identify the specific technology that the router uses, and this can indicate the speed range the router is capable of.
If you want to assess your router’s suitability for your use, one of the best options is to read some reviews online. These reviews can provide insight to a router’s performance and speed. Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid the cheaper, lower performance routers, since they may have issues with low reliability and poor performance. We’ll go into more detail about troubleshooting your router later on.
Slow internet isn’t just frustrating. The problem can get so bad that your internet barely functions at all. If you’re working with unusually slow internet, you may see problems like websites that don’t load properly or videos that take forever to buffer. Factors like your ISP, the time of day when you’re browsing, and the device that you’re using all affect how fast your internet is. Here’s a breakdown of some potential causes of slow internet.
While you might think that your internet speed is just fine, there are other factors that can slow down your internet, leading to performance issues, slow-loading websites, videos buffering for minutes on end, and other potential problems.
Slow internet speeds can cause problems with your browsing. These issues can range from problems that will simply be aggravating, but if the internet speed is truly too slow, then your internet may barely function at all.
You may notice some of these issues because of slow internet speeds:
If you notice these issues, you can be almost certain that your internet speed is too slow to support your browsing habits.
When your internet goes out, you can’t connect to a particular website, or the internet just isn’t loading well, you’ll need to do some troubleshooting to get to the root of the problem. Because there are multiple working parts that create your internet connection, and because there are other factors, like internet speed and website functionality that may play a role, you really need to go through many steps to rule out potential problems.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to troubleshooting your slow or non-functional internet.
You’ll probably first notice an issue with your internet when you can’t connect to a website or access your email. Maybe the website takes an unusually long time to load, or you receive a message that the website cannot be reached.
Before you start troubleshooting your internet connection, take a minute to make sure that the website itself isn’t down. Websites can and do crash, so start by double-checking the URL that you’re entering, and then visit a number of other websites to see if you run into the same problem.
You can also go to downforeveryoneorjustme.com. This site allows you to enter a website’s URL and check to see if the site is actually down, or if you’re the one who’s having connectivity issues.
If other sites aren’t loading, or you receive a message that no internet connection is available or the site cannot be reached, then you likely have an internet connection problem.
Here’s how to solve it.
If you’re dealing with a slow internet connection, these tips can help you to diagnose what may be causing it, and to determine how you can speed up slow internet.
Sometimes, despite trying all of the steps above, you won’t be able to solve your internet on your own. Here is some guidance for the next steps to take if the issue isn’t one that you can fix.
If the issue lies with your ISP, then the troubleshooting steps won’t work because there’s no available internet for your computer to use.
If you suspect that your ISP is the source of the problem, you’ll need to contact the company directly. Generally, going to a local office in person gets you faster (and sometimes better) results than calling into your customer service or technical support department. Of course, this is only an option if you do have a local office, and if you have the time to make a trip to the office.
Whether you end up calling your ISP or going to the office in person, always keep track of your case number. You’ll need this information if you have to follow up about the issue, and it can help to save you time during future inquiries.
If your internet is down for multiple days, most companies will give you a credit for the downtime, but you may have to ask for it. Track the days that you are without service, then contact your ISP to request credit for the days.
Suspect that the problem lies with your router? Many routers have warranties that may cover their replacement. If you’re working with a new router, then contact the manufacturer for help, not the store where you bought the router. You may need to replace the router entirely, though a manufacturer may also offer to repair a router if it’s under warranty.
When you buy a router, always save your receipt in case you do need to pursue help while it’s under warranty.
Still can’t figure out what’s wrong with your internet, why the speeds are slow, or why you can’t get a connection at all? Unfortunately, there are many small problems that can be difficult to troubleshoot, including:
If you’re feeling frustrated and don’t know what to do next, then hiring an IT company or specialist may help. An IT expert can come to your home and troubleshoot your connection issues. They can also assess your equipment, make modifications, get you set up correctly, and make suggestions so that you can get the best, most reliable performance out of your home network. (The same goes for businesses, if you’re troubleshooting issues with your business’ internet.)
When it comes to finding IT support, start by visiting your local computer repair shop. The shop may even offer these tech support services, but even if they don’t, they’ll most certainly know of local providers. Still need ideas? Then turn to your local business directory or Google for some help. Smaller businesses tend to be more affordable and are more likely to do home visits than larger IT businesses are.
Hopefully these troubleshooting tips can help you to speed up your slow internet so that you’ll be back to browsing in no time.
Best of luck!
We looked at a few of the ISP speed tests out there to see which service providers are offering reliable speed test tools for their consumers. As running an internet speed test is a great way to check if your connection is actually running at the promised speed, we wanted to know, which companies have an offering that actually lets you do that.