Why is my Internet connection so slow?

Slow InternetA slow Internet connection can be caused by any number of reasons. Below is a short list of some of the more common reasons your Internet connection may be slow. As mentioned at the bottom of this page, there is no magic program or tweak that will increase your overall Internet speed, but this page can give you a better understanding of why it may be slow.

Tip: If everything on your computer is slow including the Internet, this may be another issue.

Slow Internet connection

If you are using a dial-up connection or a modem, this will be much slower than any broadband connection or connection you may be using at work or school. If you are using a modem, no matter how fast your computer is, the speed of the Internet will remain the same or very close and can cause some users to believe their computer is slow.

If a broadband connection is available in your area and you would like a much more enjoyable experience on the Internet, we highly recommend getting it. See the broadband definition for additional information on this term and the broadband available.

Tip: If you are using broadband consider an alternative broadband solution if available. For example, Cable is much faster than DSL. Also, Cable companies such as Comcast offer boosts in some areas that can give your connection even more speed.

Your Internet connection may also be slow due to connection issues. You can perform an Internet speed test to determine if you are getting the speed you should be getting. If your download speed is significantly lower than the speed you should be getting contact your ISP and ask them to run a line test and any diagnostics to determine the cause of the speed loss.

Note: Many connections (e.g. Cable, DSL, and wireless broadband) have a slower upload speed in comparison with the download speed. If you are having issues with uploading (e.g. doing a video chat) it is a slow upload speed and not the download speed.

Virus or malware infection

Check your computer for a virus or malware infection. Internet speed can be reduced due to viruses and malware that are corrupting operating system files used during Internet usage, using up system resources (memory) that would otherwise be used for Internet usage, or just wreaking havoc on the computer so that it cannot function properly.

Site or download

Depending on the web page or website you are visiting or the download you are receiving, your Internet connection may appear to be slow. The composition of the page or site, including text, images, and videos make a difference on how fast your Internet speed appears to be. A site such as Computer Hope, which is 90% composed of text documents, will load much faster than a website such as YouTube, which is mostly pictures and movies.

Downloading while browsing

If you or someone else in your house is doing more than one thing on the Internet your Internet will appear to be slower. For example, if you or your kids are downloading a game, movie, music, or playing online games your browsing experience will be slower.

Time of day or day

The day or time of day affects the overall speed of the Internet, as well as your individual connection. When more people are online, servers and Internet connections can become overloaded and cause delays in the response time. In addition, users who are using broadband cable to connect to the Internet share an individual cable with neighbors who are also subscribed. If all your neighbors are on at the same time, you will notice a decrease in your speed.

Times when people are at home, e.g. off from work or school (after 3PM) or weekends (Saturday and Sunday), are often slow times. Sites like Internet Traffic Report report the flow of data around the world. This site can give you a rough idea of busy times.

Slow computer

If the overall speed of your computer is slow or has performance issues with doing tasks such as watching videos it may appear as if your Internet connection is slow. If you have more than one computer or another device (e.g. a smartphone or tablet) that can connect to your Internet you can test the Internet on another device to make sure it is not the computer having the problem.

Server or website location

The location of the web page you are visiting can also determine the speed of the Internet. If you are accessing a web page that is in a different part of the world, it will be much slower than a page that is hosted closer to your location.

Network or site maintenance

If your Internet service provider or the host of the website is performing maintenance on their network, computers, or network equipment, this can cause speed related issues.

Amount of visitors on a site

A server and website can only handle so many users at once. If hundreds, thousands, or millions of people are trying to visit the site at the same time, that page will be much slower and, in some cases, pages may not even respond or load.

For example, if a major event is occurring around the world, it may cause speed related issues. During the tragic events of September 11, 2001, where terrorists attacked the United States, news sites were so overwhelmed with visitors that they would either take several minutes to load or not load at all.

Third-party programs and tweaks

No matter how many web services or programs you see advertised, there is no magic program or tweak that is going to increase your actual overall Internet speed. There are some tweaks that can be done and some programs that can help with the speed of downloading certain files or increase your local network speed (not Internet). However, no software program will increase the overall speed of your Internet connection.

Some programs such as download managers can help get downloads faster by downloading bits of the downloaded file through different connections. However, this does not increase your Internet speed or browsing experience and will not work with all Internet web pages.

You or your ISP is under DoS or being attacked

Finally, although not a common situation, a slow Internet connection can also be caused when you or your ISP is being attacked, e.g. a DoS attack. When this kind of an attack is performed, the computer becomes so overwhelmed with requests that it causes your connection to be slow or time out. If you believe you are under such an attack, contact your ISP for additional recommendations. If it is your computer that is under attack, one way to escape these attacks is to change your IP address.