Fast Wi-Fi is more important than ever. Either you need it for work purposes or just streaming the latest show on Netflix or watching last night’s NBA highlights on YouTube. Sluggish Wi-Fi can be frustrating, coupled with eternal loading screens and the buffering of video and audio. This situation can be confusing, as there are multiple reasons why your Wi-Fi may be working at a speed slower than intended. It could be the strength of the Wi-Fi, your device or router, the wireless channel, or even the network itself. In this article, we’ll be looking at what may be causing your slow Wi-Fi.
Why is Your Wi-Fi slow?
There can be several factors slowing down your Wi-Fi speed. We will look into them one by one to understand and fix those. Here are the most common problems that slow down the Wi-Fi.
1. Your frequency band
Frequency bands affect how fast and how far data can travel over Wi-Fi. There are two main frequency bands: 2.4 GHz (gigahertz) and 5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz frequency band gives you slower speeds at a longer distance, while the 5 GHz frequency band gives you faster speeds at a shorter distance. 5 GHz band is the way to go for faster Wi-Fi, but with multiple devices on one band, this will make your Wi-Fi speed slow.
2. Your device is far from your Wi-Fi router/modem
Wi-Fi signal comes from the router. The greater the distance between the router and your device, the weaker the signal, and this makes the Wi-Fi speed slower. The weak signal will negatively affect your device’s performance. This scenario is usually a problem associated with big homes. For bigger homes, you’ll need a Wi-Fi extender to increase the Wi-Fi coverage.
3. Presence of Blockers
Blockers block or interrupt Wi-Fi signals from passing through. Placing the router behind cabinets or walls provides an obstacle for the Wi-Fi signals. Wi-Fi signals have a hard time passing through metals, cement, or concrete. The more obstacles, the weaker the signal gets. Similarly, microwaves and other devices that run on the same 2.4 GHz frequency as your Wi-Fi network can cause the Wi-Fi speed to reduce if these devices are nearby.
4. The strain on the bandwidth usage
Bandwidth is the highest rate of data transfer across a given path. You may be sharing the Wi-Fi connection with other people such as friends, roommates, or family members. How many Wi-Fi devices do they own – smartphones, laptops, tablets, video games, etc? Moreover, they may be taking part in bandwidth-consuming activities such as playing online video games, streaming Netflix, or downloading huge files.
These actions can greatly put a strain on the bandwidth and reduce your Wi-Fi speed. There’s also a chance a background program/app is using your bandwidth without your knowledge. For example, Windows Update is a notorious culprit that downloads updates in the background. Some apps hog the connection and slow the Wi-Fi speed. They constantly refresh or continuously use data in the background
5. Out-of-date routers
Your Slow Wi-Fi can be a result of using an out-of-date router. Older routers may not have the latest standards or provide dual-band support for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Newer routers provide much better connectivity and broad range compared to older routers. Out-of-date routers may not support bandwidth-preserving features or automatic channel switching.
Old routers that use only the 2.4GHz frequency band are susceptible to Wi-Fi interference. Bluetooth devices and microwave ovens use the same 2.4 GHz frequency range, which can cause overlapping of Wi-Fi. As a result, this will cause interference between two routers broadcasting on the same channel and frequency. This can be a problem in apartments or buildings with many routers nearby.
7. Slow internet connection
If you have a slow internet connection coming to the Wi-Fi router, it is obvious that you are going to get slow data flow to your Wi-Fi devices. So make sure that your internet connection does not have any issues and works as expected. Even though you have stable, fast internet, at times due to various problems, it can get slow. So, run an internet speed test to make sure everything is working perfectly and the issue is something else.
Additional Tips to Make Wi-Fi Faster
In addition to the reasons provided above, you can use one of these methods to try to fix the issues with your Wi-Fi speed.
1. Reboot your router
An easy yet efficient solution to fix a sluggish Wi-Fi speed problem is to restart your Wi-Fi router. Sometimes the modem has to be updated, or the router’s firmware may have a fault.
2. Use a Wi-Fi Extender
A good Wi-Fi extender (sometimes called a repeater or booster) can help significantly extend the coverage of your network if you’re encountering poor Wi-Fi speeds in some areas of your house or workplace. A Wi-Fi extender picks up the Wi-Fi signal from your router and rebroadcasts it to areas with less signal strength. By carefully placing a Wi-Fi extender, you can minimize Wi-Fi dead zones and enhance overall network performance.
3. Making your Network Secure
In order to maintain peak network performance and safeguard your data, it is essential to secure your Wi-Fi network. If unauthorized users are using your Wi-Fi it might slow down Wi-Fi performance and gobble up bandwidth. To protect your connection, make sure your Wi-Fi network is password-protected and use WPA2 or WPA3 encryption.
4. Enhancing Router Configurations
It’s possible to improve Wi-Fi performance by adjusting other settings on your Wi-Fi router. Depending on the router’s model and manufacturer, these settings may change. The signal transmit power can be increased, beamforming (a method that enhances signal directionality) can be used, and you can enable or disable particular features like guest networks or parental controls. You can find instructions on how to do this in your router’s manual.
This article has provided information on different issues that may cause your slow Wi-Fi speed. Once you can identify the problem, you’re halfway there to solve the problem.
Do you want to find out why your Wi-Fi is slow? Here is an article on how to test your Wi-Fi speed on your computer or smartphone.