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Why is my WiFi slow? How to fix a slow internet connection



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Tyler Lizenby / CNET

At this point in the coronavirus crisis many of us rely more on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, making it all the more annoying when a show stutters and stops at the peak due to poor Wi-Fi. The collective groans, the bated breath while the cargo space gets stuck for 99%, the children crying when Elsa or Moana come back: all this can be avoided if the internet just remains stable. But, unfortunately, stable internet is rarely our reality, and in many areas, ISPs' options are too limited to solve the problem.

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

Read more: The best Wi-Fi extender for almost everyone

Step 1.

Go through the usual troubleshooting methods

So your Wi-Fi is slow and you think your service provider is your connection limited. Before coming to those conclusions, it's important to go through the usual troubleshooting list: keep your router central to your home, move the antennas, check your network security, and so on. If you want a full list of ways to optimize your Wi-Fi, check out our list.

If you have gone through the laundry list and your Wi-Fi is still chugging, go to step 2.

Step 2.

Test Your Internet Health

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

Once you're sure there's no simple explanation for your Wi-Fi woes, you can go deeper into measuring the health of your internet in a number of ways. I would suggest starting with a simple test through M-Lab. This will check your connection speed, essentially probing whether your ISP delivers consistent performance regardless of the content you are using. This measurement is not perfect, but it is a good starting point.

Step 3.

Find a Reliable VPN

Norton

If you have done an initial basic internet health test and you still think there is something wrong with your ISP, go on search for VPNs. There are dozens of reasons to buy one, and just as many factors to consider when looking for the best virtual private network, such as security, price, and server locations. Fortunately, we've already done that work for you. View our suggestions here:

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

Step 4.

Compare your speed with the VPN.

Screenshot from David Priest / CNET

Then test your internet speed somewhere like Fast.com or Speedtest.net. Compare the results with the same test when your VPN is active. Using a VPN should lower your speed significantly, so the speed tests should show a discrepancy, with the VPN active speed being significantly 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, it could mean your ISP is targeting your IP address for limitation .

Step 5.

Fix your internet

Screenshot from David Priest / CNET

OK, this is the hard part. Even if you find out that your provider is suppressing your internet, you may not be able to do much. 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 comments:

  • If you do have use the best provider in your area. Measurement Lab provides a good resource for finding information specific to your region that can lead you to a more reliable ISP.
  • Use your VPN to maintain more consistent speeds. A VPN can't fix a bad connection or other reasons behind your slow service, but it can reduce the limitation of unscrupulous ISPs.
  • Call your provider and threaten to change providers if they don't stop restricting your internet. This may seem old-fashioned, and I can't guarantee lasting results, but providers have responded positively to such tactics when I used them.

Correction, February 10 : This article misrepresented last year's net neutrality. decision before the Supreme Court, rather than the DC Circuit Court, which decided the case. The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.


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