Time for a Reboot? How to Fix Slow Download Speeds at Home

There are a range of reasons why household Internet speeds can run slow. In most cases, consumers can determine the cause on their own and make changes in equipment or online usage to address the issue. However, there will be some situations in which an expert technician will need to update outside wiring. In addition, some people may find it necessary to upgrade their Internet package to obtain higher speeds.

There are few things more annoying than paying for high-speed Internet only to continually struggle with slow download speeds. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to improve your home download speeds. These range from doing a quick check of your devices to making use of ethernet cables and updating your firmware.

In most cases, you will need to identify the cause of slow download speeds: Once you do this, you'll know which action or actions you need to take. Below are some common reasons why your Internet speed slows down, along with suggestions for handling the problem.

Check your speed

Before concluding that your speeds are slow, it's a good idea to actually check them to make sure that they are in line with what you are paying for. Many Internet providers host a free online speed checker, and there are several other websites that will also allow you to try a speed check. Once you have your Internet speeds, review your current broadband plan to see if your speeds are within the range that you are paying for.

Check your device

Slow Internet speeds may be due to issues with your computer or mobile device, particularly if you have multiple browsers or apps open. Try closing out apps and browser windows, then turning the device off. When you get back online, you may find that your speeds are just fine.

Another thing to consider is that your device may be getting old or it needs better maintenance. Be sure to clean your cache regularly, and take the time to remove old, unused applications. If necessary, Bring your device into an authorized service provider to check to see that it is running optimally.

Check your Wi-Fi connections

Even if you thank you should have superfast Internet, multiple devices connected to your Wi-Fi network will slow your speeds. Check your Wi-Fi connection to see how many devices are connected to it. Keep in mind that it's not unusual for household members to have anywhere from two to four connected Wi-Fi devices. These include desktop and laptop computers, phones, tablets and e-readers.

If you find that your problem is primarily the overuse of bandwidth, you have some decisions to make. You might ask family members to make a habit of disconnecting from Wi-Fi, or turning their devices off, if they are not actively online. All of this will require a change in online behavior for everyone in your household, which can be challenging particularly if you've already cut the cord and are using your Internet connection for video and television streaming.

Unauthorized users

Another possible issue is that someone outside your household is logging into your Wi-Fi and using up bandwidth. This sort of thing happens more often than you might realize.

In some cases someone has hacked into your Wi-Fi network and is making use of your data. If this is the case, you will want to change the password for your Wi-Fi network regularly and monitor it to make sure that no unauthorized persons are using your Internet connection.

Another possibility is that your Wi-Fi password has been compromised by a friend or family member who came to visit. In many cases, visitors will ask about Wi-Fi passwords so that they can stay connected without using up their data plans. The trouble with this is that they are logging into your network and have your household password, which could be compromised through their own carelessness or through malware that is on their devices.

An easy way to address this problem is to provide guest access accounts rather than your own household password. Check with your Internet provider to learn how you can set up guest accounts so that you can accommodate visitors without compromising security. An easy way to address this problem is to provide guest access accounts rather than your own household password. Check with your Internet provider to learn how you can set up guest accounts so that you can accommodate visitors without compromising security.

Check your connectivity

If you can't find any evidence of overburdening your current Wi-Fi network and bandwidth, you might want to consider the possibility that your home is not getting full Wi-Fi coverage. Bring your device into the same room as your Wi-Fi: if your speeds improve, it may very well be that your connectivity is the issue.

If this is the case, you have some options. If your primary device is a laptop or desktop computer, and it is practical to do so, you could connect your machine to your router using an ethernet cable. However, this isn't always a very practical situation. If you are already using an ethernet cable, check to make sure that it is in good condition. Cables can deteriorate over time, and that will affect your speeds.

You may, instead, have to use "extenders," devices that you can plug into outlets around your home to increase your Wi-Fi coverage. These can be purchased from your Internet provider or online through places like Amazon.

Check your router

If the problem doesn't seem to be with your device or your Wi-Fi, the slow down may be due to issues with your router. Keep in mind that routers aren't designed to last forever: if you've had the same router for more than a couple of years, it may be nearing the end of its life and you'll need to get a replacement.

If you are currently renting a router from your Internet provider, call customer service and ask about the status of your current equipment. Before calling, take a picture of the serial number at the back of the router, so that you can provide the customer service representative with the information that he or she will need to determine whether your router needs to be replaced.

Another possibility is that you will need to update the firmware for your router. The process for updating router firmware varies: if you own your own router, you may need to update the firmware on your own according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you rent your router, your provider may automatically perform these updates for you. Check with your provider to make sure.

Other actions that you can take

If you are unable to determine the reason for slow speeds, there are still a few other things that you can do:

Arrange a technician visit

First, contact your Internet service provider to see if they are tech support staff can run a test remotely. You may need to schedule a visit from a technician to check your setup at home. Ask about whether there will be a charge for this service. In some cases, your provider may waive all or part of the fee, particularly if you've been a long-time customer, or if the technician notes that the problem is with the provider's cables and connections.

Upgrade your speeds

If the problem is that your household use of Internet service exceeds the capabilities of your current package, and it is unlikely that family members will be able to change how much bandwidth they use, you may need to pay for an upgrade in speed.

While the thought of paying extra for your already high Internet bill may be upsetting, keep in mind there are some options for negotiating lower prices for better service. Check to see what competitors are offering in your area as far as introductory specials for new customers. You may find a package that gives you the speeds that you want at a cost that is significantly less than what you're paying now for slower speeds.

Armed with this information, call your current provider and ask them to match the offer. If they refuse, tell them that you will be discontinuing your service and moving to the competition. This may be enough of an incentive for the customer service representative or retention specialist to offer you a better deal. If not, you'll have to decide whether the hassle of moving to a new provider is worth it.

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After thousands of Comcast customers came to GetHuman in search of an answer to this problem (and many others), we decided it was time to publish instructions. So we put together Time for a Reboot? How to Fix Slow Download Speeds at Home to try to help. It takes time to get through these steps according to other users, including time spent working through each step and contacting Comcast if necessary. Best of luck and please let us know if you successfully resolve your issue with guidance from this page.

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Asked 5 months ago
Updated 5 months ago
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