Everyone experiences Internet issues. It is when your connection becomes consistently slow over time that there may be a problem that needs addressing. The Internet is a series of very complex systems that include countless different types of software and hardware components.
Fortunately the Internet is constructed in a way that a great deal of it can be damaged and it will still work well. This means that slowdown issues become a bit easier to identify.
More often than not the problem is on the user’s side. While this can be aggravating it is good news because the user can actually fix the problem in some cases. A little virus here, some spyware there or faulty hardware and the Internet will begin to crawl. If this problem is intermittent it becomes more aggravating and difficult to diagnose. As it would take many articles such as this to troubleshoot every possible component of a user’s computer that might be causing an issue, here we will look at the most common culprits:
- Wireless Issues
- The Router
Viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, adware, worms, and more all fall under the heading of malware. Basically any script or software that helps a hacker control or extract information from your computer. Although most malware is deigned to go undetected if enough of it piles up you can experience internet slowdowns and other erratic computer behavior. Some of the more malicious of these programs will interfere with the installation of anti-virus software so it becomes even more difficult to identify or remove it.
Malware uses the resources of the computer it is installed on to do whatever it is doing so computers with limited memory or a ton of worms will slowdown. It will appear as if the internet has slowed but it is the computer’s ability to process information that is the issue. Computers with a lot of RAM can have all kinds of crazy stuff running and not see any problems for a long time so this can sometimes be a bigger problem.
If you already have anti-virus software installed open it and make sure it is fully updated. After this do a complete system scan. This will take a while but it must be done. Once this is done, or if you do not have anti-virus software, visit the Symantec free online virus scan here.
If you don’t use a wireless connection then of course skip ahead but it seems that more users today have a wireless network at home than don’t. Wireless connections are notorious for intermittent slowdowns even when all the components are working correctly. This is due to the many sources of signal interference in a typical household. Appliances, outlets, walls, or even a neighbor’s network can cause wireless internet slowdowns. Fortunately this is the easiest issue to diagnose.
Take one of the computers off the wireless network and plug it directly into your modem. Cable companies usually refer to this as a Gateway as it acts as a modem and router. Once plugged in surf around and see if your connection is still slow. If it is then the problem isn’t the wireless network. If your connection problem is fixed then you need to troubleshoot your network.
In Windows 7 right click the wireless icon in your system tray and select “troubleshoot”. This will scan your network and look for some of the more obvious problems. If this finds nothing reposition your wireless router in the house. It is possible that the router is too close to a source of interference and by putting a wall between the two you can increase the effectiveness of the network. Another solution is a wireless repeater. These devices extend the coverage of a wireless network and may help overcome interference issues. Before spending a lot of money call your internet provider and let them know you are having wireless issues. If they support it then let them handle it.
The router is a likely culprit for slow internet. If configured poorly then network performance can be adversely affected. The first step is the same as troubleshooting a wireless network. Plug your computer directly into the modem and check the speed. If the slowdown is fixed you know you have a router issue. Be sure that the router is set to its default settings. If it isn’t return the setting to default and test the speed again.
If you identify the issue is the router and you rent the device from your provider it is time to get them involved. Give them a call and schedule a service visit. If you own your own router the easiest next step is to purchase a new one and try it out. Make sure to purchase the hardware from a store with a good return policy. If you set up the new router and still have issues you can always return it.