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Don’t settle for a slow internet connection
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a Zoom meeting, desperately trying to stay calm while your internet connection crawls at a pace that would make a snail seem speedy? Trust me, I know the toll it can take on your patience and productivity. I’ve lost count of how many times slow internet speeds have left me staring at my buffering screen and wondering, Why is my internet so slow?!
Whether it’s lagging video while you’re binge-watching your favorite show or the dreaded spinning wheel when you need to submit an important work report, we have all experienced the frustration of a slow Wi-Fi connection. But the fix that worked last time—like rebooting your router or checking your internet speed—won’t necessarily work the next time. What gives? “Slow internet speeds can be caused by a lot of different things and can be tricky to troubleshoot,” says Erich Kron, a security awareness advocate at the online security platform KnowBe4.
That’s why we’ve enlisted the help of tech pros to spill the beans on the culprits responsible for sabotaging our internet speeds, from the sneaky devices hogging bandwidth to the mysteries of our Wi-Fi signals. Here’s what you need to know to have a strong signal every time you log in. And after you get your internet back up to speed, find out the other reasons why your phone is slow.
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Other devices are interfering with your signal
One of the most common factors behind slow internet speeds? Nearby Wi-Fi routers and other internet-connected devices vying for the same connection. Like radios, Wi-Fi signals connect to different frequencies or channels to stream and download content. But when too many devices are trying to use one or more of these channels, they can become overcrowded and cause slowdowns. “This can really be an issue in high-density buildings, such as apartment buildings,” or when using public Wi-Fi, says Kron.
What to do: Kron recommends switching to other, less crowded channels on your Wi-Fi router. To do this, go to your device settings and search online for the instructions for changing channels on your modem. (The steps will vary depending on your provider and hardware.) Any of the 11 available channels will be safe to use, but Kron recommends selecting channels 1, 6 or 11, which do not overlap with one another as other channels do. Changing your wireless connection from 2.4GHZ to 5GHZ could also help because the latter is used much less often and therefore is less crowded.