As many are aware, not all internet users are blessed with the same internet speed. The speed of your internet depends on many factors from how many tabs and programs you currently have open to whether or not your computer is loaded with viruses. The speed of your internet can also depend on your location and other environmental factors.
However, your internet speed primarily depends on the services your provider is offering. Different internet service providers and packages those providers offer feature varying internet speed rates. Not surprisingly, the faster the internet, usually the more you will be paying each month for service. Many find these extra costs worth it.
However, these extra costs are only worth it if your internet service provider is truly providing you the internet speed that you’ve opted for. If they aren’t, your provider might be intentionally slowing down your internet, often to get you to upgrade your plan. This is called data throttling. Throttling data can be legal, but it can also be illegal.
You have the right to know whether or not your internet service provider is cheating you out of the internet speed you are rightfully paying for. Fortunately, there are many different tests you can run to see if your internet speed doesn’t match what your provider has promised.
Testing Your Internet Speed
Before assuming that your internet is too slow for what you’re paying for from your provider, it’s critical that you even know what your internet speed is to begin with and how it compares to the internet speed your provider has advertised for you. The following tests will help you figure this out.
- Run a speed test.
The first thing you should do when checking to see if your internet service provider is providing you a lower internet speed than what you’re paying for is run a simple speed test. These speed tests can be found online for free and only take seconds to complete. For the greatest accuracy, you might wish to take more than one speed test.
When performing these tests, it’s a good idea to close out all tabs and programs except for the internet speed test itself. This is because the more things you have running in the background, the slower your internet becomes.
If you aren’t sure if something is still running in the background, hit CTRL + ALT + DEL to access your task manager. From here, you can delete any processes running in the background like browsers or programs. However, do not close out of anything if you don’t know what it is or what it does.
For each speed test you perform, test your internet at least three to four times. Be sure to take the average of these three or four results to receive your “final” result. Taking the test multiple times is important as internet speeds can certainly fluctuate.
- Run a speed test after installing a VPN.
Installing a virtual private network (VPN) before running a speed test can help you decide if your slow internet is a result of data throttling or not. Fortunately, VPNs are affordable and legal, at least in western countries like the United States and Canada. There are many inexpensive VPN providers you can opt for. Some are even free.
Once you run an internet speed test before installing a VPN and well as after installing a VPN, you’re going to want to compare those results. If the results are quite similar, this is a good sign: it typically means that your internet is not being throttled with by your provider.
Do note that if there is network congestion on your wireless connection or LAN, this can affect your VPN speed. A large distance between you and your VPN source can also result in a slower internet connection. That said, make sure to select a VPN that is a closer connection prior to running a speed test.
- Use a wireless device? Plug it into your modem via an Ethernet cable before running a speed test.
Some people don’t realize that when you use wireless internet on your device, your internet is automatically going to be a bit slower. So, if you run a speed test on your device and wonder why your internet speed is slower than expected, it may be partly because you’re using a wireless internet connection.
This is a simple fix. Just plug your computer into your modem via an Ethernet cable to receive a wired connection. Try the internet speed test again. You should notice that your results are better than with wireless internet. While some devices run fairly smooth with a wireless connection, some are best with a traditional connection.
Apart from giving the Ethernet cable method a go, also think about other devices that might be connected to your network. This includes televisions, smartphones, gaming consoles, computers and laptops, and other smart technological devices. Remove any devices from your network that are not in use as this can slow your connection.
- Decide if the latter results match up to your advertised speed.
Your internet speed with and without a VPN might be similar, but how do you know for sure that you aren’t receiving the internet speed you were advertised? Well, it’s important to compare the latter internet speed results to the internet speed your provider advertises for your applicable package. Is it off a little, off quite a bit, or about the same?
By comparing the results, you might find that you’re paying for a 100 Mbps plan but might only be receiving 80 to 85 Mbps. However, do know that most internet service providers do not deliver the internet speed that they claim to offer, and in many cases, this is actually legal, but major differences are not something to take lightly.
Regardless, if the numbers are off, you can always get in contact with your provider. But before doing so, it’s always best to read the fine print of your internet plan. Why? Because the fine print might contain disclosures regarding your service provider’s rights to throttle your internet speed in certain scenarios.
What You Can Do If Your Internet Speed Isn’t As Expected
Once you know for sure that your internet speed is not matching the speed that you’re paying for through your internet service provider, it’s time to dig deeper. Why is your internet slower than it’s supposed to be? Can you put the blame on your service provider, or is there another reason for your slow internet connection?
Before jumping to conclusions, start by asking yourself how long you’ve been dealing with slow internet. Has your internet been slow since you opted for a new internet provider and/or service plan? Did your internet slow down after a certain instance like after downloading a file? Did your internet slow down seemingly out of the blue?
Next, begin by figuring out what else may be causing your internet to run slower than usual. Especially if your internet has begun slowing down after a certain instance, it might be a good idea to run a virus and malware check on your computer just to be on the safe side.
Apart from a malware scan, check to see how much space you have available on your device. You may need to delete some files and programs, which may help speed up your internet. Also, if you have limited internet data, check to see if your internet cap is nearing or surpassing its limit. If so, your provider might legally be throttling your data.
Once you’ve found out what the source of your slower internet is, take the necessary routes to resolve it. This might mean talking to your current internet provider, switching plans or opting for a new internet provider, clearing up space on your computer, or getting rid of viruses found on your device, for instance.
Apart from deleting stuff on your computer in terms of files and programs, also check your internet browser. Do you have any unnecessary apps, games, or extensions tied to your browser and/or computer in general? If so, delete the ones that you never or rarely use. If you need to re-download them later, be sure to write down their names.
Although your internet service provider promises to deliver the internet speed that you’re paying for, there are certain cases where your internet provider can legally slow down your internet like, for instance, if you’re nearing your data cap limit. However, there are also illegal cases of data throttling.
But before assuming it’s your internet provider that’s to blame for your slower internet connection, there are also unrelated reasons why your internet may be slow. One can have slow internet if they downloaded too many programs on their computer, have a problem with their modem or router, or if their computer has malware.
If you suspect your internet speed isn’t where it needs to be, start by testing the speed of your internet before drawing conclusions why your internet speed may be slower than anticipated. Engaging in trial-and-error, you can also discover what is or isn’t slowing down your beloved internet connection.