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Home / Tips and Tricks / How do you know if your service provider restricts your internet?

How do you know if your service provider restricts your internet?



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Tyler Lizenby / CNET

There is little worse than a Netflix show that stutters and stops at the peak thanks to poor WiFi. The collective moans, the breathlessness when loading stands at 99%, the children scream for Moana to come back: all this could be avoided if the internet just remained stable. But unfortunately, fixed internet is rarely our reality, and in many areas the options of internet providers are too limited to solve the problem.

What's worse, with last year's Supreme Court decision to refuse to invoke net neutrality, ISP's can still nip your internet, limit your broadband if you YouTube or Hulu streams more than they want and offers slower links to websites owned by their competitors. Fortunately there is a solution for some of these problems : the virtual private network. In short, ISP's must see your IP address to slow down your internet, and a good VPN will protect that identity. Here's how to find one and use it to check if your ISP is artificially slowing down your internet.

Step 1

Test your internet health

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

You can measure the health of your internet in a number of ways, but I would suggest starting a simple test via M -Lab. This checks your connection speed, basically measuring whether your ISP delivers consistent performance regardless of the content that you have access to. This measurement is not perfect, but it is a good starting point.

Step 2

Find a reliable VPN

Norton

If you have performed a first basic test on your internet status and you still think something is wrong with your ISP, start investigating VPN & # 39; s. There are dozens of reasons to get one, and just as many factors to take into account when looking for the best virtual private network, such as security, price, and server locations. Fortunately we have already done that work for you. View our suggestions here:

CNET & # 39; s choices for the best VPN & # 39; s.

Step 3

Compare your speed with the VPN.

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

Then test your internet speed somewhere such as Fast.com or Speedtest.net. Compare the results with the same test when your VPN is active. Using a VPN should significantly lower your speed, so the speed tests should show a deviation, with the VPN active speed considerably slower than the VPN inactive speed. But a VPN also hides the IP address that providers use to identify you, so if your speed test with the VPN is faster than without the VPN, this may mean that your ISP is focusing your IP address on limitation .

Step 4

Confirm your internet

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

OK, this is the difficult part. Even if you find out that your provider is limiting your internet, there may not be much that you can actually do. Many people in the US live in regions with ISP monopolies or duopolies, so you may not be able to find a better provider. But here are a few helpful answers: If you have options, use the best provider in your area. Measurement Lab offers a good source for finding information that is specific to your region and that can lead you to a more reliable ISP.

  • Use your VPN to maintain more consistent speeds. A VPN cannot resolve a bad connection or other reasons behind your slow service, but it can reduce the throttling of unscrupulous ISPs.
  • Call your provider and threaten to change providers if it does not stop smothering your internet. This may seem old-fashioned and I cannot guarantee lasting results, but providers have responded positively to such tactics when I have used them.
  • Originally published February 8, 8:00 AM EST.

    Correction, 10 February : In this article, last year's net neutrality provision was incorrectly assigned to the Supreme Court, rather than to the DC Circuit Court that decided the case. The Supreme Court did not handle the appeal. The item has been corrected.

    Update, February 12 : A few readers have reported problems with a link for speed testing, so we have replaced it with another verified test.


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