These days with all the video streaming services, multiple WiFi devices, and WiFi security cameras, many of you are probably experiencing slow internet at times. So here’s how to troubleshoot slow internet at home.
Most of you probably think your internet is slow just based on the speed of your service with your Internet Service Provider (ISP). That can be the case, but more often than not, it’s actually something else.
Bottleneck #1: Internet Service Provider Speeds
Many ISP companies actually start their plans with a decent amount of speed. Here in the Los Angeles area, Spectrum Internet starts at 300mbps, which is more than enough for a small family with some streaming services.
I would say that if you have a family of four that primarily watches only streaming services and not cable or satellite TV, and you also have a few WiFi security cameras, then I would probably upgrade your service up to 500mbps.
Also, keep in mind that while they state that your service is rated at 300mbps, you may not get the full bandwidth due to low-grade modems or other bottlenecks that I will get into later.
If you want to test to see if you are getting the full speed you are supposed to get, one website you can use is speedtest.net. However, to truly test this, you need to do it on either a desktop or laptop that is directly connected to the router or modem with a network cable.
If you’re not seeing numbers that are at or higher than the speed you are paying for, unplug your router and modem for 30 seconds and then plug them back in. This does a power cycle that may reset the connection with your ISP and I tend to do this every so often.
Testing through your WiFi on your laptop or smartphone will not allow you to see the full bandwidth available. You must do the speed test with a direct wired connection to your router or modem.
If your ISP speed is only 100mbps and you use any type of streaming service, it’s time to upgrade to at least 300mbps.
Bottleneck #2: ISP Standard Modem
When you sign up for cable modem service with your ISP, they’ll give you a standard modem that they have rated for the speed you are signing up for. What they don’t tell you is that the standard modem is crap and isn’t rated for continuous high-speed usage. You’ll need to power cycle your ISP-provided modem quite often just to maintain the speed you are paying for.
Your ISP can also provide you with a WiFi router/modem combo device if you don’t already have your own WiFi router system. This is also crap. If you have more than a few WiFi devices in your house that may be used all at the same time, don’t use the WiFi router/modem combo device provided by your ISP.
I like to keep my modem and WiFi router devices separate and I’ll go into details about why in the next section. For now, if you use cable modem service, I recommend purchasing your own modem and returning the modem provided by your ISP.
The top-of-the-line brand for cable modems is the ARRIS Surfboard brand. I have used several of these devices over the years and have never regretted using them. I have also helped my family and friends to switch over to using these and they have also seen a better performance.
If you are using fiber internet services, then you will need to use their modem. Fiber modems are usually much more reliable than the standard modems provided by cable modem companies.
Bottleneck #3: WiFi Routers
WiFi routers are actually the biggest culprit when it comes to slow internet speeds at home. Traditionally, each house will have a single WiFi router for all WiFi devices to use. These days, it’s not enough.
Each WiFi router can handle up to a certain number of devices. So, if you have several heavy users such as multiple people watching video streaming services, you’ll quickly see slow internet speeds.
Mesh WiFi router systems are the way to go. A mesh router system is actually multiple WiFi points spread out across your house to provide you and your devices with multiple connection points.
Many people tend to think you need a big house to need a mesh router system. This is not true. I recommended to a friend of mine who lives in an apartment to upgrade to a mesh router system and they saw immediate improvements in their internet speeds.
This is one of the reasons I tend to keep my WiFi router system separate from the modem. I can upgrade each system as needed and with a router/modem combo, you only have that one single WiFi connection point which will be your bottleneck.
There are many brands that offer mesh WiFi router systems. The brand that I have personally used in the past is the Google Nest WiFi Mesh Router system. Unfortunately, they have not released a new version that supports WiFi 6.
Many others I know have a great experience with using the Amazon eero brand of mesh routers. They do have a version that supports WiFi 6 so that is perfect for all new devices.