What to Do When Your Internet Connection is Slow

When web pages take forever to load, videos buffer for long periods and messages don’t transmit in real time, you may feel like there’s nothing you can do

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When web pages take forever to load, videos buffer for long periods and messages don’t transmit in real time, you may feel like there’s nothing you can do. However, that’s not the case. Whether you’re using the Internet at home, the office or in a public location, there are things you can do to either speed up your connection or be productive even when it’s slow.

Check your plan and run a speed test

Your Internet may be slow simply because you purchased a slow plan. Check with your Internet Service Provider to find out what speeds you should be expecting. If you think your Internet is much slower than it should be, run speed tests at different points of the day over a period of time to look for patterns. If you’re getting the speeds you should but you need something faster, you should get another plan or switch providers. If you don’t want to switch or you can’t afford it, consider some of the other tips below.

Troubleshoot your Computer, Modem & Router

Turn all your devices off for a few seconds and then switch them on again. Make sure all the cables are connected as they should be and that none of them are broken or frayed. Try using the router with a different device or connecting the computer to the modem via an ethernet cable. You may discover that your Internet is fine but one of your devices has a problem.

Boost Your Wi-Fi signal

Maybe you’re using an older 802.11g or 802.11n wireless router. If so, it’s time to upgrade to an 802.11ac device which facilitates faster speeds. You can also get an 802.11 ac adapter for your older laptop to boost your speeds, extend the signal of your router or add more access points. An even simpler solution is to move any objects that may be blocking the signal from your router. Walls, cupboards or furniture can all reduce the range of your wireless router. Place your router on a flat surface in an unobstructed location and try elevating it to see if that speeds things up.

Turn Off Plugins and Apps Which Hog Bandwidth

The tips mentioned above work if you’re at home or work. But what about if you’re a freelancer using the Wi-Fi in a coffee shop or another public place? Try installing ad-blockers to prevent ads, videos, and animations from using up your bandwidth. You can also pause file-syncing and sharing apps like Google Drive and Dropbox which run in the background. Another option is to prevent your computer from downloading and installing updates automatically. When you get an alert that an update is available, schedule it for a time when you will have a stronger signal.

Use the Mobile or HTML Versions of Websites

They won’t look as great, but in a pinch, they will do the job. Desktop versions of websites are often heavy on graphics and animations which means they require a decent Wi-Fi signal to be displayed optimally. If your signal isn’t great but you need to get information, a text-only version of a website will do the trick. You can set up a secondary browser on your laptop for this purpose so you don’t have to change the settings on your primary browser every time.

Use the Internet at Off-Peak Times

Internet connection speeds can slow down when there are lots of users competing for bandwidth. If you notice that the Wifi is slow at your neighbourhood coffee shop when the lunch crowds arrive, do your work earlier or later. If your office’s internet connection is always bad in the morning, download and upload large files before your colleagues get in or when they head out for lunch. When the Internet slows down, work on the tasks that don’t require a strong connection. You can even do things that don’t require an Internet connection at all. This is not an ideal situation but it helps if there’s nothing else you can do.

Consider That the Internet May Be Making You Less Productive

In this age of Internet-connected devices, e-commerce and online content creation, the Internet is a key part of many jobs. However, sometimes we underestimate how much of a distraction apps, ads and pop-up notifications can be. Think about whether you really need to be connected all the time or whether you would be better able to focus if you disconnected for a while. Maybe you can log on and pull all the information you need for a task and then work on it offline.

Look for a New Internet Plan if All Else Fails

If all attempts to optimize your Internet connection still don’t give you the results you want, you definitely need a new plan or a new provider. Contact your current ISP and explain the tasks you will need to do and how many people and devices will be connected. That way, they can offer the right plan for your needs. If you realize that their best product still won’t be right for you or it will be too expensive, feel free to shop around for an alternative.