Why is my Internet connection so slow?

Updated: 06/06/2021 by Computer Hope
Slow Internet

Any number of reasons can cause a slow Internet connection. 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 to increase your overall Internet speed, and reading this helps you know why.

Tip

If everything on your computer is slow, including the Internet, this may be another issue. See: My computer is running slow, what steps can I do to fix it?

Slow Internet connection

If you're using a dial-up connection or a modem, it's much slower than any broadband connection. If you're using a modem, no matter how fast your computer is, the speed of the Internet is always 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 to give your connection even more speed.

Your Internet connection may also be slow due to connection issues. You can perform a speed test to determine if you're getting close to the speed you should be getting. If your download speed is significantly lower, contact your ISP and ask them to run a line test.

Note

Many connections (e.g., cable, DSL, and wireless broadband) have a slower upload speed than download speed (because they're asymmetric). If you have issues with uploading (e.g., doing a video chat), it's a slow upload speed and not the download speed.

Other users in the home or office

If your home or office shares an Internet connection and others use that connection, your available speed is decreased. For example, if others are watching Netflix and you're doing a Zoom call, it may be interrupted because of a lack of bandwidth. Ask the other users to stop what they're doing on the Internet to see if it improves your connection. If this solves the problem, your connection may not be fast enough for multiple users using high bandwidth features at the same time.

Site or download

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

Direct connection vs. Wi-Fi

Wireless (Wi-Fi) technology has improved since it was first introduced. However, it still cannot offer the same reliability as a direct connection. If the computer or wireless device has a poor connection, it decreases your Internet speed. If you're using Wi-Fi, move closer to the wireless router to ensure it's not a problem with the wireless signal. If you get a direct connection to the router, we'd also recommend using an Ethernet cable instead of using wireless when you can.

Time of day or day

Time

The day or time of day affects the overall speed of the Internet and your connection. When more people are online, servers and Internet connections can become overloaded and cause delays in the response time. Users who're using a 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, your speed decreases.

Times when people are at home (e.g., off from work or school) and weekends are often slow times.

Problems with browser

The Internet may also appear to be slow because of the Internet browser you are using to browse the Internet. To make sure you are not running into browser issues, try an alternative browser on your computer (e.g., Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox). If multiple browsers all seem slow, then you may have an issue with your computer or the network. If an alternative browser works, then the problem is with your primary browser, and we recommend troubleshooting that browser or sticking with the alternative browser.

Slow computer

If the computer's overall speed is slow or has performance issues with doing tasks (e.g., watching videos), it may appear as if your Internet connection is slow. You can connect another device (e.g., a smartphone or tablet) to your Internet to determine if it's your Internet or your 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're accessing a web page in a different country, it'll be much slower than a page hosted in your country.

Network or site maintenance

If your Internet service provider or website's host 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 slower and may not even respond or load.

If a significant event is occurring around the world, it may cause speed-related issues. During the tragic events of September 11, 2001, news sites were so overwhelmed with visitors that they would take several minutes to load or not load at all.

Virus or malware infection

Check your computer for a virus or malware infection. Internet speed can be reduced because viruses and malware are corrupting essential operating system files using up system resources (memory) that would otherwise be for Internet function.

Third-party programs and tweaks

No matter how many web services or programs you see advertised, there's no magic program or tweak that increases your actual overall Internet speed. Some tweaks help with the speed of downloading certain files or increase your local network speed (not Internet). However, no software program increases the overall speed of your Internet connection.

Some programs such as download managers 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

Although not a common situation, a slow Internet connection can also be caused when you or your ISP is attacked (e.g., a DoS attack). With a DoS attack, computers and routers become 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 your computer is under attack, one way to escape these attacks is to change your IP address.

Check with ISP for improved performance

Some broadband providers also offer different tiers of service. If your Internet has always been slow, call your provider and see if they offer a boost or business plan for increased speed.