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Internet service slow? What to check and how to get help

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Kick it up a notch

The internet provides so many conveniences, but it also has the power to create a lot of headaches, too. Few things are as frustrating as a slow internet connection. What should you do when yours is slow?

slow-internet
Is it your internet connection or your computer?

You'll have to do some investigating to find out for sure. Your computer, cables, router and other hardware may be malfunctioning or creating problems, but more likely than not, your equipment simply can't handle what you give it. Here are just a few examples of what might cause your hardware to run less efficiently:

  • Storing all of your login, password and form fill-in information online. Your computer can slow down if it contains registry errors, corrupt files, cookies and temp files.
  • Your computer may be infected by a virus. Running an anti-virus scan can help you identify harmful viruses.
  • Installing and uninstalling software affects your computer's speed. Using a download manager can help you weed out the bad stuff.
  • Surfing online -- and the browser you use to surf -- has a huge impact on speed (examples of browsers include Internet Explorer, Safari and Mozilla Firefox).

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Troubleshoot

In most cases, it's not the internet, but rather what you do to your computer with the internet, that can affect overall speed.

Try this: Connect your internet to a different computer. If the second computer runs at a normal speed, then it's your computer -- and not your internet service –- that's creating the problem. However, if the second computer runs as slowly as your regular machine, then your internet connection may be the problem.

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Why the internet connection slows down

There are countless reasons (more than we can list here) why your internet connection is running more slowly than usual:

  • Programs installed on your computer, such as anti-virus programs, may -- without your knowledge -- access your internet connections to update its software.
  • If you're accessing the internet via a wireless network, another unknown user may have managed to access your network and is using your resources.
  • Your internet connection may run slowly if your internet service provider changes its network's configuration or suffers internet technical difficulties.
  • Your provider may intentionally install filters or controls on the network that result in slower connection speeds.
  • Your provider may have capped your service. For example, after you reach a specified download limit, your ISP may cut your speed by up to as much as 50 percent!
  • Your provider may suffer slower connection speeds during peak times.

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What should you do if your internet connection is slow?

Contact your service provider. ISPs have technical advisors who can walk you through a troubleshooting process right over the phone or via live online chat. If necessary, your internet service provider will send a technician to your home to resolve the problem.

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