04 Feb What is Slow Internet Speed?
Slow internet can be defined in a lot of ways. Simply, YouTube videos take a long time to load, your video games lag or freeze, or you can’t load your music stream easily. Or maybe you’re having a problem with loading almost anything at all! But what is really meant by “slow internet”? And how do you fix it? There are real answers to these questions! I would like to break down a few key terms used in the “internet world” to help simplify what the problem is and help give some solutions.
What is Mbps and How Does it Affect Me?
“Mbps” stands for megabits per second. Bits are tiny units of data that a computer uses to communicate information, and a megabit is a million bits! Bits are represented as either a “0” or “1” (see binary). The speed that your device downloads information from the internet is typically measured by Mbps. The download rate of your internet connection is called bandwidth.
Simply, Mbps is a term that is used to represent how much information can be downloaded to your browser or device at once.
You can do an internet speed test to determine how many Mbps you are currently getting on your device. Try it here! Checking internet speed through a speed test is the best place to start when finding out if you have slow or fast internet.
Once you know how many Mbps you are getting, you can really start to narrow down your problem. If you have a lot of people in your home or business that are using the internet at the same time, this can greatly affect your internet speed. Download speeds of 25 Mbps or less are typically too slow to be used by a household with multiple members streaming video or connecting multiple devices at once.
Again, Mbps is how much data can be downloaded at a time (in a second). Netflix takes about 5 Mbps to stream and a game of League of Legends takes 6 Mbps. If you have a download speed of 25 Mbps for your household and one person is watching Netflix, another is gaming and two others are watching YouTube, you will have a collective usage of around 20 – 25 Mbps! This sounds fine, but in reality you end up with buffering videos, loading symbols and lag or worse—disconnections completely!
Here’s an analogy: Imagine driving down a four-lane road. If the lanes merge to one, all the cars would slow down and cause a traffic jam! This is just like what is happening when you have slow internet. In the above example, too many people are trying to drive down the same lane and are jamming up.
Here’s a common analogy for bandwidth: Imagine you need to fill up a swimming pool with water. A larger hose that puts out more water per minute will fill the pool a lot faster than a small hose. The same can be said for bandwidths.
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Hard Wired Connection vs WiFi—Which is Better?
I want to keep this as simple as possible so I’m not going to get into the different types of wired or wireless connections for internet in this article. If you’d like to have those explained, check out this article or some others.
Simply, when using the internet, you either have a hard connection through a wire, such as ethernet, or over WiFi. Depending on your situation, either could be better! However, if we are strictly talking about slow internet, I would almost always bet you are having slow internet problems with your WiFi.
This is because there can be a gambit of things that cause issues with your WiFi connection. Maybe you’re too far away from your router! Or your router is not good for your type of home network. If you have a smart home, you could have too many similar radio signals crossing each other and causing interruptions or “noise.”
I would say that if you want a for-sure connection that will have an extremely low chance of failing, use a hard connection (something like ethernet) if you can. If your preferred or only option is WiFi and you are having problems, read on and I’ll see if I can help you resolve it!
How to Fix Slow Internet.
Now that we’ve determined what is considered slow internet, let’s dive into a few solutions you could try at home without breaking the bank. Remember, we are only a phone call away if you need help!
- Are you paying for high-speed internet?
Not everyone has the luxury of grabbing onto Xfinity, CenturyLink or Ziply Fiber internet. But if you do, do it! It will make a big difference if you’re currently with a company that only has slower internet speeds than these bigger guys can offer (not to beat on the little guys, but if their internet is slow, it’s slow!).
- Move your router to a more centralized location.
If you are using WiFi in your home and are having slow internet connection or disconnecting completely at times, it is possible that you are simply too far away from your router! Try moving closer to it and see if that makes a difference in your connection. I usually try to watch a YouTube video close to the device, then further and further away until I have connection problems. You can also try the speed test that I recommended earlier in the article.
- Turn if off and back on again.
I know, I know. But this fixes TONS of problems! I have solved almost all of my home network internet issues with a simple reset of my computer or modem. Give it a shot!
- Call your ISP.
Your ISP (internet service provider) may be having an outage or problem on their end. Give them a call or Google if they’re having problems. If you aren’t normally having problems but it happened suddenly, you will normally find that they are having an issue and are working out a solution as quickly as they can!
- When all else fails, call in another professional.
Sometimes your ISP can’t resolve the issue and nothing you can find on the internet can solve your slow connection issues. Well, that’s what we’re here for! Contact us and we’ll go over some options for you. We specialize in Ubiquiti Networks solutions and are here for you, no matter what your internet problems may be.