Slow Internet Troubleshooting

I’m reposting this from my “Intermediate Internet Troubleshooting” article as I think the subject deserves a post of its own. You’ll need to know what speed internet you are paying for before this article will be of any use at all to you.

Some Terminology

Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) will sell service based on download and upload speeds. When you are talking to a tech guy or girl about your internet speed, many times you’ll hear them say something like, “I get ten over one with Suddenlink”. What they are referring to is the download and upload speed of their connection. Ten is the download in megabits per second (mbps), and one is the upload speed in the same. Sometimes you’ll see it written like this: “10/1”. It’s the same thing, 10mbps download, and 1mbps upload.

If you have some fractional upload speed, which is normal you might hear someone say, “Three over point seven five”. This just means they get three megabits per second download and three-fourths of a megabit per second upload speed (.750 mbps or 750 kilobits per second).

How to find out what you are paying for…

Most of the time you can find out what you are paying for by checking your bill. Some ISPs will only show the download speed, or have something like “Standard” or “Pro” level accounts. You can usually go to their website and find out what speeds your type of account gets.

If you can’t figure it out from the bill, don’t be afraid to call them and ask. The tech support guy will be so happy you aren’t calling about broken internet he’ll probably give you a tip or something to make calling in again easier. At least I did.

One tip I can give you is to call the sales line when you call  your ISP. They will typically have no hold times. You can ask them. If they transfer you to tech support or billing your hold times will usually be shorter.

 

Troubleshooting

Let’s assume you are getting 3mb download speed, and 1mb upload. This is a common plan across the US for DSL service.

Step 1 – Go to speedtest.net.

Step 2 – Click the “Begin Test” Button. Wait for the test to complete.

When it completes, as long as you aren’t streaming videos or have some other device using the internet heavily, you should get something within 10%-15% of your speed back. So if you have 3meg/1meg, your download speed should show something like 2.7 at the lowest, and your upload should be .8-.9 at the lowest.

If it is lower than that your ISP may be having a problem, or it can be a device on your network.

You can eliminate your own hardware as a cause by running a speed test on another device. If it shows the same, turn off all internet using devices except the computer you are on, your router and your modem. Run the test again, see if it is still the same.

If it is, the best thing to do is hook a computer directly to your modem. Reboot the modem by unplugging the power and plugging it back in. Do the speed test again and see if it’s any better. If it is, the problem is likely your router, or some other device hooked in to it.

Using the process of elimination you can figure out which device it is. Hook your router back up, plug your computer back into it. Then turn on your first device, run the speed test. If that wasn’t what was causing the problem, turn it off and turn on the next device. Repeat the test until you figure out which one it is. Do this for everything as it might be more than one device causing an issue.

If nothing makes the speed better, then call your ISP and see what they can do to help. One cause is if you have DSL and you are a bit too far from the central office you won’t get the speeds you are paying for no matter what. If this is the case you can either switch to another type of service with another provider, or demand they lower your rate to match the speed you are getting.

Don’t pay for something that is impossible to obtain.