We all pay a lot of money for our internet access and blazing fast internet speeds. What's worse is a vast majority do not check to see if they are getting the speeds they pay for. The reason being is most users will not realize they have an issue because the internet just works when browsing the web. People will take notice when trying to watch YouTube or Netflix and they get stuck buffering more. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have instilled "heavy usage" hours that most people will write of issues as that. You should not do that and you should always ensure that you are getting what you pay for.
One of the first things you need to do when testing is check your bill and see what you are speed package you are paying for. Most ISPs will also state that your package are for "speeds up to XYZ Mbps." This gives ISPs some wiggle room on the speeds they provide to you. Typically, most ISPs will state that 20% speed difference is normal, especially during peak hours. Once you know the speeds your are paying for, you can now run some tests to ensure you do get those speeds. For this article, we will assume you are paying for speeds up to 150 Mbps.
When testing your internet speeds it is best you use a desktop or laptop with a wired connection. Most modern day desktops and laptops will have a gigabit connection. You will want to also check that your router supports a gigabit connection as well, which most modern day routers do. It is best to consult your owners manual for both devices you use during your tests. If you do have to test via wireless, make sure your router supports wireless-ac and that your wireless device supports that connection type too. Wireless-n devices speeds tests are not reliable for internet speeds over 150 Mbps, because they only support up to that speed.
There are several factors that could impact your internet speeds. Maybe your router does not support gigabit speeds? The wire for your network is bad? Your ISP truly has some network congestion? The speed test website is having issues? The point of all this testing is to attempt to find slow spots in your network and to see if they stay constant or only occur during certain times / days of the week.
Point and case would be if you are paying for up to 150Mbps and your speed test results are showing you are only get around 80Mbps, then there is a problem. And you need to address it with your ISP, especially when you are paying a small fortune for speeds than that.
At this moment, let us assume you are currently getting speed test results close to what you pay for. A week later your speed tests start to change.
You should do weekly speed checks for your network to ensure you are always getting what you pay for. There is nothing worse then not getting your money's worth.
After a speed test, compare it to what your ISP's plan states you should be getting. Is it with in 20% of that speed? If you are paying for 150Mbps, your 20% margin is 120-150Mbps. If your speed test results are within that range, then that is considered normal. Note this in a report that you keep. Now you can perform the same type of test again in about a week or so, and note any changes. When you do see come noticeable drops in speed, think about the following items to help troubleshoot:
If you determine the fault is with your ISP. Give them a call and talk to them about your findings. One thing that goes a long way is to remain calm and be respectful about it. Screaming and yelling will get you nowhere. Ask them how they are going to help resolve the issue for you. Maybe they have an area wide issue? The line from the tap to your modem is bad? There are several factors that could cause the issue, but a tech on site or over the phone should help track that down. Remember, the data you have collected from your speed tests can go a long way. Never just talk about one speed test, always include several speed tests from more than one day.
Now, if the speed problem is on your end, troubleshooting can be easy or difficult. The difficult depends on you and your knowledge of the devices and equipment that makes up your network. Maybe the modem is old or does not have the rating to handle the speed your ISP provides. If that is the case, you will need to purchase a new modem. Maybe a network cable in your home is bad? Sometimes a firmware update for your router will resolve the issue.
In the end, you do not want to waste money on your internet service if your ISP is not providing you with the speeds you pay for. Troubleshooting is never a fun task, but wasting money is not fun either. Many people do not pay attention to their internet speeds, just as long as "it just works." Do not be one of those people, and always ensure you are getting the performance you are paying for.
Having a poor Wi-Fi signal can be a real bummer. Thankfully, most people have plenty of options that can fix Wi-Fi issues. One of the best options is mesh routers. Before you make that upgrade, take a moment to see where your current Wi-Fi is failing you. From there you can develop a better solution.
First things first, run some speed tests to see your download and upload speeds. Once you have those numbers, compare them to the plan you have with your Internet Service Provider. Ookla's Speedtest (Android, iOS) or Netflix's Fast.com (Android, iOS) can help you here. Both will provide you with results on your download and upload speeds. Both are also very simple to use. If your speeds are dramatically different than what your service states you have, give your service provider a call.
Load a speed test app to your phone and start checking speeds around your home. This is the most basic troubleshooting you can do. Run a speed check at least three times to get a more accurate average of speed for that area. This will help you find the trouble spots, including ones you may not know about.
Now that you know where the trouble spots are, you can use an analyzer app to see what is happening. We recommend Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android. With most analyzer apps you will be able to Wi-Fi strength and channel usages. Wireless channels being used by multiple devices can cause issues with speed.
Another area to check is signal strength. This is the other culprit of wireless speeds, next to channel congestion. Signal strength is measured in dBm or decibel-milliwatts. The key is that lower negatives numbers are better than larger negative numbers. For a perfect connection, you will want -30 dBm. As long as the signal is around -60 dBm you should be fine. Anything greater than -80 dBm is bad.
While analyzing channel congestion, you might find some channels that have less activity than others. Keep in mind that 2.4GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi options have a different set of channels. Log into your router and make some adjustments. Most routers are set to automatically pick a channel, but they tend to all use the same channel. Because of this, neighborhood routers can start over lapping and cause congestion for that channel. 5GHz offers more channels than 2.4GHz, which helps with congestion. But, 5GHz does not have the same range as 2.4GHz.
In addition to switching channels on your router, you can reposition your router to help with signal strength. Ideally, you will want your router out in the open, not in a closet, and centrally located in your home. After a reposition, be sure to go around with your Wi-Fi analyzer and check to see how things improve.
Switching channels not enough? Or Cannot move your router to a better spot? Then it may be time to look into some additional hardware. Wi-Fi boosters or repeaters are still an option and are relatively cheap. Place these with in good range of your main router, and they will create an additional network for your devices to join. Your mileage with a booster or an extender will vary. These devices are not ideal for streaming services.
Another option are powerline adapters. These devices will take your network and send the signal through your house electrical system. This system tends to be more costly, but is a much better option. The reason for this is the extenders in this setup will have a hard line connection to your router.
One final option is a mesh networking system. This system uses multiple Wi-Fi routers setup across your home to juggle multiple devices on your network. These devices all act as one router, but because you have more than one the coverage in your home is better. Boosters and Extenders all acts as separate networks, with separate network names. Mesh networks eliminate that problem.