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It’s easy to take your high-speed Internet connection for granted. That is until you are staring at your screen waiting for your video to buffer or website to load. Slow Internet can be frustrating, but it may not always be your Internet service provider’s fault. There are several factors in your home that can adversely affect the speed and stability of your Internet connection.
As we discussed last month, when we refer to Internet speed, we are really talking about bandwidth, or capacity. It is the amount of data that can be transferred over an Internet connection in one second. It is important to know that bandwidth is a finite number for each Internet connection. The Internet connected devices in your home all share that bandwidth. That means the more devices you have connected at the same time, the less bandwidth each one will get, resulting in slower Internet speed for all. So, it is important to identify exactly how many devices are connected to the Internet in your home. And, note that just because a device is not being used, it can still be connected and using bandwidth.
Any Internet activity uses a variety of your computer’s resources. These include things like the processor, RAM, and the hard disk drive. The computer processor affects background tasks occurring on the Internet that you don’t see, and the RAM affects the loading speed of websites, especially if you have more than one page open at a time. The performance and speed of these items can impact how quickly your computer performs tasks on the Internet. Malware, spyware, viruses, and worms can also slow your computer down, so make sure you have up-to-date computer security software.
Just like you are supposed to shut down and restart your computers on a regular basis, you should also be doing the same for your modem and router. When modems and routers are constantly running, they can get overloaded and overheated, causing their performance to decline. It is recommended that you reboot your modem and router at least once a month. To reboot them, just unplug each one from the power outlet for a couple minutes and then plug them back in. This ensures they get the latest network and security updates, along with clearing out the memory and resetting tasks that may have gotten stalled.
While wireless networks are very convenient, they can also be very insecure. If your Wi-Fi network is not secure, you open the door for hackers to steal your information or for neighbors to hijack your Wi-Fi for their own use. Be sure your wireless network is locked down, so you are not sharing your Internet connection. Click here for more information about locking down your router.
While wired Internet connections offer the best performance and reliability, most people enjoy the freedom of a Wi-Fi connection. However, a bad Wi-Fi signal or a poor performing router can greatly affect your Internet speeds. Where your router is located can greatly affect the strength of your Wi-Fi signal and coverage area. Other devices in your home may also be interfering with your Wi-Fi signal causing it to slow down or drop completely. Some wireless routers can also drop their connections completely during times of heavy workloads, like doing online gaming or copying a large file.
The composition of the website you are visiting, including text, images, and videos, makes a difference on how fast the webpage can load. A website composed of mainly text loads faster than a website, such as YouTube, which is mostly pictures and movies. Also, where the website’s host server is located can also cause websites to load slower.
It is easy to forget that some applications and programs can run other processes in the background while you are using them. While these applications are designed to do useful work, they may be quietly slowing your computer down and consuming your Internet resources. Some of the most common applications that are guilty of this are video games or programs that have a lot of videos.