Internet Troubleshooting

Table of Contents

There are various guides on the web for diagnosing slow internet speeds, and one of them may suit you better than this one. However, here's what works for me.

Let's assume that you live (as I currently do) in a fairly urban environment, with good headline internet speeds, and lots of neighbours. You've noticed that your internet feels slow, or unreliable. Here are some questions to ask yourself, and experiments to try.

Internet or Device?

Have you noticed the problem on one particular device, or on every device in your home? If the problem only occurs on one particular phone or laptop, it's probably not your internet connection that's at fault. The problem is probably that particular device. Check it for bloatware, malware, etc. Maybe do a factory reset or OS-reinstall if you're comfortable with that kind of thing.

If your problem occurs on every device, read on.

Whole internet, or one website?

Are you noticing problems with one particular site or service? Or with everything you do?

One good way to check is to use an online speed test site, such as this one from Which. For a first check, I'd use whatever device I first noticed problems on. If I'm running the test on a laptop, I'll sit wherever I would normally sit while using that laptop.

If the speed test says your speeds are adequate for the thing you're trying to do, then the problem is probably not your internet connection. It might be that the site or service you're using has problems. Or the person you're video-chatting with might have internet problems. Or the software you're using might be running out of memory on this machine.

If the speed test says that your internet speed is slow enough to explain the problem you're having, then read on.

Wifi or Wired?

If you did your last speed-test using wifi, then do a fresh one with your wifi turned off and your laptop or computer plugged directly into your router.

If you get a much better speed with wired than wireless internet, the problem is probably not your internet connection, it's your local wifi environment. See below.

If you have a low speed-test result even when you're plugged directly into the router with an ethernet cable, then try rebooting the router. If the problem persists, then it may well be with your ISP. At this point it might be worth phoning them up.

Can I make my local wifi environment better?

Consider using a wifi analyzer app (I've used this one) on your phone to measure the following things:

  • The signal strength of your wifi, at various places in your home
  • The signal strength of everyone else's wifi, at various places in your home

To get good wireless network speeds you need the following:

  • Your wifi signal strength should be high
  • There should be no other networks with strong signal in the same radio band as your network

If you find that your wifi signal strength is high in some places, but low in others, then you might be able to make things better by adding a repeater somewhere.

If you find that your wifi signal strength is high, but there are also lots of other networks in the same band with high signal strength, then adding extra repeaters and access points is unlikely to help you. In this case, all I can suggest is using ethernet cables for important video calls.

Author: Gareth Smith

Created: 2021-06-23 Wed 10:36