How to Troubleshoot Slow and Laggy WiFi

So, your home WiFi is lagging. You’re supposed to be getting triple-digit Mbps, but your home WiFi connection drops to the low double digits (or worse). Netflix won’t stay at 720p, and your games experience massive lag that makes competitive online play impossible.

Before calling out a technician, follow these basic steps to see if an easy adjustment on your end will solve the problem.

1) Move your device near the router

How to Troubleshoot Slow and Laggy WiFi

Though you may have become used to WiFi penetrating walls, ceilings and floors, it is possible for any solid object to block or slow down a WiFi signal. The WiFi in buildings like hotels and offices is usually running on a system of commercial routers and repeaters that is much stronger than the lower-end equipment commonly used in home networks. If you haven’t yet tried bringing your computer or device close to the router to see if it’s a blocked signal issue, do that first. The denser the material the more likely it is to cause problems. Reflective materials and objects containing a lot of water (like large aquariums) are also a unique trouble point for WiFi signals.

2) Check for overlapping WiFi networks

How to Troubleshoot Slow and Laggy WiFi

The more WiFi networks are in your area, the more likely it is that you are overlapping with a number of others, which causes interference that slows down all of the networks involved.

Your WiFi router will broadcast on either a 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz signal. Each type offers you a range of channels to use, but there are only certain channels that don’t overlap with other networks. If you’re on a 2.4 GHz router, you’ll want to use channel 1, 6 or 11. A 5 GHz router adds an extra 20 non-overlapping channels. The process for changing your channel varies by individual router, but it almost always involves logging into the router through its unique URL in your web browser.

3) Check the source

How to Troubleshoot Slow and Laggy WiFi

If you don’t have a computer already plugged directly into your wireless router, plug one into it with an ethernet cable to determine if the problem is there. If you’re getting low speeds directly out of the router, plug directly into the modem to see where the source of the problem is.

If the modem doesn’t appear to be the issue, plug two different computers with different wireless cards (or temporarily swap wireless cards in your primary computer) to rule out a bad card as the problem.

Router settings can also cause speed issues. The default settings out of the box should not cause a problem, but if you bought the router secondhand it may have old settings that need to be tweaked. Look up the manual for the router online if you don’t have it to see what the settings are supposed to be, and you might also call or email your ISP to see if they have any recommendations.

4) Check for malware

How to Troubleshoot Slow and Laggy WiFi

If everything is fine up to and including the router, it may be a problem localised to your computer or device. The most likely source is malware that has installed quietly in the background and is hogging up your bandwidth. We recommend paid AVG for Windows users, once you purchase the software you can run a full system scan within AVG. Furthermore MalwareBytes is also recommended to protect against malware on your computer.

Time to call for help?

If you’re still stumped after all of these checks, it’s probably time to call your ISP and schedule a visit from your internet provider.

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