Why the internet is slow and what to do to fix it

Main causes why the internet is slow, always or only on certain occasions, and how to fix it to restore the normal and promised speed

Slow connection The network infrastructures on the Italian territory do not allow everyone to obtain the maximum speed in every city, causing inevitable slowdowns when we start a download or when we start a file upload. Also, even for those with the fastest internet connection, there may come a time when there is a problem and internet is slow, even to open regular websites like this one.

Both when the problem is structural and congenital, and when it is sudden, we can try to remedy, understand why the internet is slower than usual or what was written in the contract signed with the network provider. In the guide that follows we will show you the most common causes for the internet being slow and how to remedy the situation when network slowdowns occur to get back to surfing fast.

READ ALSO -> Programs to keep the network and internet fast

1) Problems with the Wi-Fi connection

In most cases the problems are due to the wireless connection, which can decrease the speed of the Intenret due to signal interference; interference is caused by neighboring Wi-Fi networks but also by walls, other wireless devices (wireless headphones) or other electronic components (especially microwave ovens).

If you want to surf at the maximum possible speed, you should always use the Ethernet cable for fixed computers; if we use laptops or mobile devices (smartphones or tablets) make sure to activate the second fast Wi-Fi network and to exploit only that, so as to always navigate at maximum speed (even if with a lower signal coverage).

If the internet does not take well in some areas of the home we consider adopting Wireless Powerline or Wi-Fi Repeaters, so as to extend the coverage in every room.

2) Problems with network equipment

Over time the modem slows down dramatically, especially if left active for months and months without a restart: this is due to the saturation of internal resources, just like when the cache or RAM memory of a computer runs out.

For some types of networks the problem may be with the receiving equipment, the antenna or the cable modem. As with any electronic device, a modem can have age issues and the internet could be slower than some time ago, steadily.

The best method for solving all problems involves quite a lot restarting the modem, so as to get it back in perfect working order. Still on the same topic we can read the following guides:

  • What slows down the network speed (wifi or wired) and the internet connection
  • Which wifi modem to buy for the wireless home network?

We follow the directions in the guides above to solve the vast majority of problems with network equipment.

3) Reset the modem

If not even a simple restart of the modem solves the connection problems, we recommend that you perform a complete reset of the modem, so as to return it to its original settings and restore the operating system.

After the reset we will have to configure the i again access parameters for the Internet provider and also change the password and the name of the Wi-Fi network directly from modem settings.

4) Indirect connection to the modem

If in the past we have used Wi-Fi range extenders to amplify the range of a wireless signal, they could be the cause of slow Internet, especially if they use only one band for the connection (2.4 GHz). Older range extenders cut bandwidth in half due to the wireless traffic management mechanism, dividing the bandwidth between receiving (from the modem) and sending data (to computers).

If we want to cover the whole house and at the same time navigate fast we will have to change the old range extenders with Dual Band Wi-Fi amplifiers or better yet, create one rete Wi-Fi mesh.

5) Internet provider technical problems

Internet may be slow due to technical issues from the provider, so not our fault. A quick search on Twitter could highlight the problem in the area while a report on the network provider’s site can open a ticket to support. If we have access to the Internet with the phone, we can also check the Downdetector site, which provides information on blocks and slowdowns of the Internet in real time, for each provider available in Italy.

You can also call the call center del provider and complain to one or more operators, calling until an operator is found who understands that our problem does not depend on us and cannot be solved by restarting the modem (which is usually the first solution suggested).

6) Congestion of the telephone exchange

The Internet Service Provider (called ISP) has several modems and repeaters at the various corners of the city that they form the network infrastructure. The local modem is shared with all the neighbors and the inhabitants in the street. If too many people try to download at high speeds at the same time, perhaps using programs such as Emule or BitTorrent, it is possible to experience slight decreases in the performance of the line.

This traffic congestion is natural and common for cheaper network providers who do not have enough local modems or repeaters to keep all subscribers’ connections alive and fast. Sometimes, however, it is not the provider’s fault if the infrastructure is overloaded with huge amounts of traffic during working hours.

Depending on where you live, the provider could have problems upgrading the infrastructure due to local bureaucracy or because of Telecom which owns the telephone lines. In these cases you can try complain to a petition signed by the whole neighborhood for the provider to provide a better line or else it is better to change provider and pay some extra money for a more serious and reliable internet provider.

7) The provider limiting the network manually

Although it is never publicly admitted, it is known that some internet providers limit the connection of those who want to download on peer-to-peer protocols with P2P programs. Anyone who thinks they are a victim of this forced limitation can perform a speed test with Speedtest.net and compare that measurement with the download speed from P2P networks.

To get around this problem, we recommend that you use P2P programs only on computers equipped with premium VPN access, so as to be able to drain by bypassing the operator filter.

8) The provider or subscription is too cheap

Sometimes the internet is slow simply because you are paying for one low level service. Also from Speedtest we check the data download speed and check if the numbers are those declared in the contract or if they are much lower.

To improve the situation, we only subscribe to subscriptions that include FTTC or FTTH connection, avoiding ADSL or wireless connections. We obviously choose the operator that provides the better coverage in the area, so as to always have the maximum speed by spending the right amount.

9) Virus on your computer

Excluding all hardware problems, it is better to focus on software problems: if only a computer is slow it is probably affected by viruses that slow down the execution of programs or saturate the bandwidth to download new viruses or to exchange access data.

To resolve quickly we carry out a virus scan with the best free programs, so as to restore the maximum connection speed. If the virus is too difficult to remove, we format the entire PC restoring the Windows operating system to the original settings.

10) Heavy programs that take up bandwidth

If everything seems to be in order and the provider cannot work miracles anyway, the cause of the slow Internet is to be found among the active programs. Surely there will be a program that remains running in the background (such as BitTorrent, Emule, other P2P network clients), synchronization programs or programs for running games (such as Steam) that download a lot of data from the network, clogging it.

In this case we close all unnecessary programs from Task Manager and also check the self-starting programs.

11) Change DNS

When you type an address into the browser such as How2do.org the computer sends a DNS call to translate that name into the IP address of the computer to connect to. The DNS Server is provided by the same network provider except that, at times, this server may not work as it should.

If we have never made this type of change, we advise you to read our guide to optimize the internet by changing DNS servers, so as to choose much faster DNS.

12) Optimize the browser

While waiting to solve the problems of internet slowness, in the meantime, you can surf in order to transfer as little data as possible. For example, if you browse using the Wi-Fi network of a bar, where there is nothing you can do to speed up the network, then you need to lighten the websites and browse in order to compress the data and take advantage of the mobile versions of the Web sites.

As a valid optimization tool we can also change user agent on the browser to see sites in mobile version or take advantage of the compression mode of Chrome.

Conclusions

What we have collected in this guide are all the tips we can follow to fix the slow internet problem. In most cases we will be able to solve the problem with a simple restart of the modem, but in other cases we will have to change the older network devices or contact the Internet provider to solve.

If the modem in use is too old we can always change it with a new Dual Band modem, also adaptable to fiber optic connections.

Still on the subject of optimizations, we can also apply some speed tricks to the system and browser, so as to push any type of connection to the maximum.

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