I keep having friends ask me what they can do about their internet speed. “How do I fix my slow WiFi?” they ask, or “I’m starting a new job, and I’ll be working from home. How do I know if my internet will be sufficient?” or fill in the blank with your own questions!
First, to fix your slow WiFi, what is your actual internet speed?
Head over to SpeedTest and run some tests.
|Distance from Router
|Date & Time
|Computer with WiFi
|Computer plugged into the modem
|Phone with WiFi Next to Router
|Tablet or Phone with WiFi Away from Router
|Phone with cell signal
Does Your Internet Speed match what you expect?
Do you know what speed you are paying for? Look at your internet bill or call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to find out. While you are on the phone with them, also ask what the maximum speed that is available for you and what the additional cost would be to upgrade.
For example, the maximum that our ISP can provide us at our location is 12 Mbps. If your computer is connected directly to the router, you should receive the speed you are paying for. Using WiFi, the speed will be degraded somewhat. For me, using WiFi, both my computer and phone averages between 9 and 11 Mbps.
Of course, you always want it to be blazing fast, but a small decrease in measurable service of 10% or so is acceptable.
If your speed is well below 15% of the rate you are paying for, do the test numerous times. Keep track and write down your results, time of day, distance from the router, etc. If it persists, call your ISP, report your results, and ask them to get it fixed.
Remember that with more people working from home and with kids learning at home, overall connection speeds are down. Try to negotiate for a discount if your ISP can’t provide the service speed they promised last year.
What Your Results Mean:
If your WiFi speed is adequate next to the router, but not so good as you move away from it, you may need to get a new router with a wider range. For a larger home, consider a mesh router. Keep in mind that brick, stone, and metal are not good conduits for the WiFi signal.
If your WiFi speed is bad, regardless of where you are in your house, you’ll need to call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) for help.
If your internet speed is terrible while connected directly to your modem, it’s definitely your ISP.
You can also check Downdetector to see if your ISP has run into more widespread service issues.
Technology has changed a lot in the past few years, so if your router is more than 4 or 5 years old, it’s probably time to get a new one. If you’ve determined with the activities above that the problem is with your router, it is definitely time to get a new one. (Here’s a link to Chris’ recommended routers and modems.)
If you’ve determined that it is a problem with your ISP, get them on the phone. And if the data shows that your router is fine, don’t let them blame your slow WiFi on the router! (Yes, they will try that.)
If you have an off-brand modem, your ISP will also blame any problems on that as well. Chris recommends getting the router that your ISP will sell to you. For example, our ISP is CenturyLink, and we purchased our modem from CenturyLink. This gives them one less thing to blame your WiFi speeds on.
When you call your ISP, give them the data you’ve collected. Let them know how long the problem has been going on. And be prepared to wait on hold for a while. If they do need to send someone out, be prepared to wait a week or more for your appointment.
Other Hints for slow WiFi:
- If your WiFi isn’t working at all, check out this article: Why Doesn’t My WiFi Work?
Watch Out For Scams:
- Remember to stay clear of shortened links unless you know without a doubt where that link will take you. That includes most bit.ly and owl.ly links. Here’s a recent article about short links.
- Right now there are a lot of scams out there. Read our article about Covid19 scams.
Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.
Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.
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