Is there an internet problem at your end?
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The super-fast 100Mbps broadband connection you signed up for a few months ago just isn’t as stable as it should be. Is the internet service provider (ISP) to blame? Not necessarily—it could be a bottleneck at your end.
A sudden drop in speed is a common problem. Do a speed test (www.speedtest.com; free apps for Android and iOS) to begin with, to understand what kind of speed dip you’re suffering from. And try restarting your router—the problem could be something as simple as connectivity issues with the nodes of the ISP, or firmware issues in the router.
If that doesn’t work, check to see if your PC, phone or tablet is acting up. Android or iOS devices are smart enough to clean out most of the temporary clutter or sort out app issues but there are some steps you can take. On an Android phone, head to settings -> Connections -> Mobile data -> Access points and select “restore to default” from the sandwich menu at the top right corner of the screen. On an iOS device, head to Settings -> General -> Reset -> Reset network settings.
Things can be a bit more complicated with Windows PCs. First, clean the temporary files and web browser cache with the help of a popular app called CCleaner (free to download). This will remove the junk that may have accumulated over time. Then, check if there is any spyware, malware or virus that is hogging system resources. For this, you can either download Malwarebytes (free to download) or run a malware check scan (Eset has a free online scan—www.eset.com). Malware and spyware tend to transmit their own packets of data without the user realizing it, and that can affect connectivity.
If none of this works, it could be a hardware issue. The best option would be to check Windows Update and the PC maker’s website for any driver updates for the hardware installed.
Sometimes, it could be something quite simple. Your phone, tablet or PC could be downloading the latest albums to your Apple Music library, a large Windows Update file or the latest episode of a TV show that you watch on Amazon Video or Netflix, in the background. That download would take up bandwidth and slow down the speeds for other connected devices during that period.
If your computer is old, it may not have enough RAM or storage to keep up with the amount of data transmitted on a high-speed connection. Or the network interface card (NIC) or Wi-Fi adapter installed in the PC may be old, unable to keep up any more.
Then, of course, it could be that there are multiple walls between you and the Wi-Fi router, or the router is not placed high enough. This can lead to significant signal loss—but repositioning the router can help.
If you are living in an apartment complex, your neighbours will also have their own Wi-Fi networks. In such a scenario, Wi-Fi networks tend to step on each other’s toes far too often. This congests the frequency your router and connecting device operate on, influencing signal quality and speed. Consider each channel as a particular road—the more the number of people using that road at any point, the more cluttered it will be. The inSSIDer (free trial available for Windows and MacOS) app can map the airwaves around you, detecting all the networks within range of your Wi-Fi, and the channel they are on, allowing you to switch manually to the least congested channel on your router.
If you still haven’t been able to resolve the problem, check the wires installed by the ISP. They may be damaged, or they may have reached the end of their life.