We’ve all seen the telltale signs of an internet connection that’s struggling to keep up. Maybe your last round of War zone was late, or Disney+ keeps buffering while you’re trying to binge The Mandalorian. Next time you find yours Home Internet connection hindering your enjoyment, please take a few moments to fix it. A good place to start is by checking your internet speed.
Amplifying any perceived connection problems from your internet service provider is that many of us still work remotely, at least some of the time. Combine that with your roommates or other family members working, going to school, playing games, and streaming video, and your internet speed can start to falter.
The fix could be as simple as restarting your modem and router, which should always be the first step, or else upgrading to a mesh network as a last option. Below, we’ll show you how to check the speed of your Internet connection and offer advice when it comes time to troubleshoot.
Run a speed test on your computer, phone or tablet
There are many apps and websites that will test your connection speed. Some more popular speed test services include Speedtest.net, Fast.com or CloudFlare.
Whether you install an app or use a website, it’s a good idea to run the test a few times to get an idea of how well your connection is performing. Each test will take less than a minute to complete, offering download and upload speed results.
The Federal Communications Commission has published a guideline for home broadband speeds based on the number of devices and people connected to the same network. The basic service ranges from 3 megabits per second to 8 Mbps and will be sufficient for light use (browsing, email, video calls, HD video streaming, etc.). Medium service is rated at 12-25 Mbps and is best for up to three users or devices simultaneously, with medium to high usage depending on the activity. Finally, Enhanced Service is any connection speed over 25Mbps and is best suited to those with more than four users or devices using the connection at the same time for more than light usage.
The speed of your Internet connection varies based on the time of day, the number of devices connected and in use, and other factors. I suggest running multiple speed tests over a day or two, monitoring the results, to measure the true speed of your connection.
(For our tech-savvy readers, you can use a Raspberry Pi to run speed tests on a set schedule and upload the results to Google Drive for you to monitor by following this handy guide.)
Ideally, you should connect your computer directly to your ISP’s modem with an Ethernet cable to run a speed test, but that’s not always possible. But there’s another option for running a speed test: Use your wireless router’s app.
Run a speed test on your wireless router
Depending on your wireless router, you may be able to run a speed test using the dedicated app. For example, Google’s Nest Wi-Fi can run a speed test in the app or ask Google Assistant how fast your internet connection is.
Eero, Linksys AND Asus Zen Wi-Fi routers also include the same functionality, although not all of them support asking a smart speaker to run the test. It’s best to start by looking at a dedicated app.
Using your wireless router’s speed test may prove to be more accurate, at least in theory, because the router is connected directly to your modem.
You don’t need to rush to buy a new router if the speed test results are lower than you expect or are paying for. However, that may be the case, depending on how old she is. Router technology, like any other technology, changes often and this can lead to performance issues. If your router was purchased within the last couple of years, chances are it’s fine and the problem is with something else.
What to do if your speed is slower than it should be
I recommend turning off your modem and wireless router, leaving them off for about 60 seconds, and then turning them back on. Most of the time, this fixes any speed issues for me. CNET’s Ry Crist has more tips on how to get better and faster Wi-Fi to help you make your network work as it should.
The answer isn’t as easy as calling your Internet service provider and informing them of the poor service. It’s a frustrating fact, but ISPs are allowed to limit your connection speed. However, there are steps you can take to determine if this is the case or if there is another problem at fault.
You can also check your provider’s app or website for an outage. The first thing I do when my Comcast Xfinity the connection behaves unstable is open on Xfinity My account app and look for any service issues. The app will give you an estimated recovery time when there is one. Knowing that the problem isn’t something on your end means you can opt out of any troubleshooting.
Finally, you can call your provider to make sure your modem supports the speed of your plan or to see if there are any plans or promotions it’s worth upgrading, so you can get the speeds you need to get through a stress-free work and play day.
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