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Tips for Troubleshooting Slow Home Internet Connections

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This checklist describes common causes for slow Internet connections from homes. A poor-performing connection can be caused by broadband router configuration issues, wireless interference, or any of several other technical issues with your home network. Follow these steps to diagnose slow Internet connections.

1. Broadband Router Settings

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As the centerpiece of a network, a broadband router can be responsible for slow Internet connections if configured improperly. For example, the MTU setting of your router will lead to performance issues if set too high or too low. Ensure your router's settings are all consistent with the manufacturer's and your Internet Service Provider (ISP) recommendations. Carefully record any changes you make to your router's configuration so that you can undo them later if necessary.

2. Wireless Signal Interference

Wi-Fi and other types of wireless connections may perform poorly due to signal interference, which requires computers to continually resend messages to overcome signal issues. Household appliances and even your neighbors' wireless networks can interfere with your computers. To avoid slow Internet connections due to signal interference, reposition your router for better performance and change your Wi-Fi channel number.

3. Internet Worms

An Internet worm is a malicious software program that spreads through computer networks. If any of your computers are infected by an Internet worm, they may begin spontaneously generating network traffic without your knowledge, causing your Internet connection to appear slow. Run antivirus software regularly to diagnose and remove these worms from your computers.

4. Running Background Applications

Some software applications you install on a computer run in the background, quietly consuming network resources. Unlike worms, these are programs designed to do useful work. Peer to peer (P2P) programs in particular can heavily utilize your network and cause connections to appear slow. It's easy to forget these applications are running. Always check computers for any programs running in the background when troubleshooting a slow network.

5. Faulty Network Equipment

When routers, modems or cables fail, they typically won't support connections. Certain technical glitches in network equipment, however, adversely affect performance even though connections are maintained. To troubleshoot potentially faulty equipment, temporarily re-arrange and re-configure your gear while experimenting with different configurations. Try bypassing the router, swapping cables and changing network adapters to isolate the slow performance to a specific component of the system.

6. Service Provider Issues

Internet speed ultimately depends on the service provider. Your ISP may change their network's configuration, or suffer technical difficulties, that inadvertently cause your Internet connection to run slow. ISPs may also intentionally install filters or controls on the network that can lower your performance. Don't hesitate to contact your service provider if you suspect they are responsible for a slow Internet connection.
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