Why is My WiFi So Slow: Tracking Down the Culprits

Loading pages that take too long can be frustrating. Slow WiFi speeds can be frustrating when you are trying to do sensitive work. You might be tempted to contact your internet service provider to complain about the problem. Here are the top reasons your WiFi is slow and what you can do to fix it.

The Wrong Spectrum Band is being Used

Two main frequency bands are used by wireless networks: 2.4GHz (gigahertz), and 5GHz. These frequency bands determine how fast and far data can travel over WiFi. The 5 GHz band offers faster speeds over a wider range. While the 2.4GHz band is slower, it has a greater range.

You can read our article to learn more about the differences between 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz .

Dual-band routers can only be used in one frequency band. This router allows you to have two WiFi networks, one for each band. These networks can be set up to have their own names and passwords.

Log in to the router’s settings page to find out if it supports both WiFi bands. Next, make sure that both bands are on. You can also access the password and name for your 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz networks from this page.

You can find out how you log in to the settings page of your router by following our step-by-step instructions.

The Wrong WiFi Channel is being Used

Each WiFi frequency band can be broken down into multiple “channels”, which are used for sending and receiving wireless data. There are three channels available in the 2.4GHz band, and 24 channels in the 5GHz band.

Channels can be compared to lanes on a highway. Each Wi-Fi-connected device within your area is like a car driving in these lanes. It can lead to congestion if all of your neighbors use the same WiFi channel. To speed up your WiFi, choose the least congested channel.

There are 11 channels available if you use the 2.4 GHz band. You should choose channels 1, 6 or 11, as they are the only channels that do not overlap. You might also want to choose channels 1, or 11, since routers default to channel 6.

There are too many Bandwidth-Heavy Activities

Bandwidth is the maximum data that can be transmitted over a network at one time. This means that every time someone in your network calls, streams a movie or downloads large files, it can slow down your WiFi.

Open the Task Manager to see which tasks are taking up the most bandwidth on your Windows computer. This can be done by right-clicking the Taskbar at your screen’s bottom. Next, select Task Manager from this pop-up.

You can sort your activities based on how much bandwidth they use by clicking the header in the Network section. You can choose any activities that consume too much bandwidth and click End Task.

You can use Activity Monitor on a Mac to identify bandwidth-intensive activities. This can be done by opening the Utility folder in the Applications folder. Open Activity Monitor, then select Network Tab.

Your Router is out of date

Switching out an old router is one of the best ways to improve your WiFi connection. In general, older routers will offer faster WiFi speeds than newer ones. This is because older routers may not be able to use newer WiFi standards.

When you are looking for a new router, make sure it supports 802.11ac (also known by Wireless AC or WiFi 5 technology). This label is usually found on the box of the router. This label will enable you to get WiFi speeds up to 1 Gbps (gigabit per sec), at the very least theoretically.

You should look for a Wireless AC router that supports 802.11n, also known as WiFi 4. These routers can theoretically support WiFi speeds up to 600Mbps.

The Wrong Place for a Router

You might consider moving your router if you still experience WiFi dead zones with your new router. Your router’s signals travel in an outward direction so you’ll get better coverage if it is placed in the middle of the room.

Based on the router’s location, mapping WiFi signal strength. (Image Source: Jason Cole)

WiFi signals can travel both vertically and horizontally. It’s a good idea for your router to be in a high position such as on top of a bookcase or mounted on a wall. Water and metal objects can block WiFi signals so keep your router out of reach from fish tanks and refrigerators. It takes some trial and error to find the perfect router location. Before you place your router, check how strong your signal strength is in different locations.

Our article explains the best location to place your router.

Your network drivers are out of date

Your computer needs a network adapter to connect to the internet. Network drivers are required to support this device. These network drivers enable your computer’s software and hardware programs to communicate with each other.

Windows Update automatically updates your network drivers. Sometimes, however, network adapter drivers can become obsolete, missing or incompatible with your system. This could cause WiFi to slow down.

Windows 10 users can manually update their network driver by opening the Windows search box (the magnifying glasses icon at the bottom-left corner). Type Device manager in the search bar, and then click Open. Right-click the network adapter that you wish to update in the Device Manager menu and select Update Driver.

Apple handles all your driver and system updates if you have a Mac. Click the Apple icon at the top-left corner and choose System Preferences to ensure your drivers are current. Next, click Update Now. If this option is not available, your Mac is already up-to-date.

You can perform a WiFi speed check from your smartphone or computer to determine how slow your WiFi is. Here’s how:

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