Troubleshooting your Connection to the Internet
Your connection to the Internet is vital to your success at teaching remotely and working from home. When your Internet is slow, or your Wi-Fi drops out, it impacts everything. You can’t teach, you can’t get work done, and you can’t communicate. That’s why it’s so important for you to really own your connection to the Internet and test it regularly. Troubleshooting your connection to the Internet can seem overwhelming. We get it and you're not alone. IT is here to help.
To help aid in troubleshooting a slow Internet connection IT has put together these 11 handy tips.
Tip #1 Know What Internet Speeds you are Supposed to be Getting
A critical piece of information is to know your Internet plan. Your Internet plan contains information about your maximum download and upload speeds. Both speeds are equally important. Speeds are measured in Megabits per second (Mbps). For example, a Spectrum Internet plan can be along the lines of 200 Mbps Down and 20 Mbps Up with no data caps and extra fees.
Down is how fast your computer is downloading or receiving information from the Internet and Up is how fast your computer is sending information to the Internet.
Internet speeds are shared by the entire household and are not dedicated to each device. If one device is using 125 Mbps down, then the rest of the devices in your household can only use the remaining 75 Mbps.
You pay for your Internet connection each month and you need to hold your Internet Service Provider (ISP) accountable for the successful delivery of this service.
If you're unsure of what Internet plan you have, try checking your latest ISP statement or calling them directly.
Tip #2 Test your Internet Speeds
Now that you know what Internet speeds you should be seeing, it's time to test. For the most accurate and complete test, you’ll want to hardwire your laptop directly to your router with an Ethernet cable.
If you can’t hardwire, you can perform the test over Wi-Fi, but just know that there are other factors that are at play like Wi-Fi interference, distance from the router, etc. that can interfere with your test results.
Open a browser, go to http://speedtest.net and click GO. Record the results of your Ping, Download Mbps, and Upload Mbps. If they match your Internet plan, you are good to go. If they don’t, take note and continue reading.
Tip #3 Try a Different Device
Sometimes a slow connection to the Internet is due to your device. The best thing to do is rule it out by using a different device to test your Internet connection. If it’s fast on the other device, try to figure out what the difference is between them.
Tip #4 Competing Devices
There are so many devices and apps in your home that are bandwidth-hungry and compete for your connection to the Internet. By devices, I mean every laptop, desktop, phone, tablet, printer, blue-ray, TV, video game console, thermostat, baby monitor, security camera, doorbell camera, and streaming media device (e.g. Apple TV, Roku). Any one of these devices can considerably slow things down.
Aside from actively using your Internet connection, i.e. streaming a movie, these devices run updates in the background, and communicate information to cloud services. All of these devices compete for your Internet bandwidth. It’s very tough to tell what each device is doing by just looking at it, so the best thing you can do is power these devices off when you not using them or when troubleshooting your Internet connection.
Tip #5 Reboot Your Modem and Router
Sometimes a simple reboot of your modem and router can fix slow Internet problems. Please let everyone in your household know if you are going to reboot first, as it will knock everyone off. Pull the power cord(s) and wait 60 seconds then plug them back in (just like a short power outage).
Tip #6 Distance to Your Router
If your computer is on the other side of your home from your router, the distance could be too far to get a good signal. Every wall, door, and bookcase that a wireless signal must pass through from the router to your device degrades the signal.
Try moving your router to a more central location in your home, or if that’s not a possibility, it’s time to consider an upgrade to a newer router with better range or a wireless mesh router system.
Tip #7 Wi-Fi Interference
Wi-Fi has a certain amount of radio channels that can carry a signal. Everyone has a Wi-Fi router in their home, and they all compete for the clearest radio channel. However, sometimes there are not enough open channels to have a clear signal and multiple Wi-Fi routers must then compete for the same channel. When this happens, you get Wi-Fi interference.
The best way to describe Wi-Fi interference is like driving in your car across the state listening to jazz on the radio, then suddenly rock music cuts in over the jazz music. Soon, you can't make out either song. That is Wi-Fi interference.
Wi-Fi Interference is tough to troubleshoot without special software, but you have a few options. First, you can reboot your router, so it auto-selects a different channel. Second, there is a channel setting on your router that you can manually adjust to change to a different channel. Lastly, you can purchase a new router that has a stronger Wi-Fi signal than your neighbors.
Tip #8 Time to call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) for a Technician Visit
Sometimes there is a problem with the line, the modem, or a piece of ISP equipment that is outside your home. In order to get this fixed (or rule this out) you must call your ISP and schedule a technician to investigate the cause of slow Internet speeds.
Tip #9 Upgrade to a Faster Router
Using an older router could be the culprit of slow Internet speeds. With so many new devices and apps competing for bandwidth, an older router just can’t keep up with the demand. Instead, try upgrading to a new router or even better, install a wireless mesh router for large homes and apartments. When searching for a new router, look for ones that support current technologies like Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax).
Currently, IT recommends a NETGEAR Nighthawk router or a NETGEAR Orbi (Mesh) that supports Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6.
Tip #10 Upgrade your Internet Plan
There is a limited amount of bandwidth shared with your entire household. Perhaps the cause of your slow speeds is due to a family member or a roommate’s device(s) taking up much of your bandwidth. If this is the case, it’s time to upgrade your Internet plan.
You can test this by running speed tests with all devices turned off and then run periodic speed tests throughout the day while everyone is online. If the speed tests are good with all the devices powered off, but are slow when devices are online, upgrading your Internet plan is your best bet.
Tip #11 Request a MiFi Wireless Hotspot from IT
If you ran through all these tips and are still not getting better results, reach out to IT to request a MiFi Wireless Hotspot. These devices are small, fast, and good in a pinch, but they rely on Verizon’s cellular signal. If Verizon is not strong in your area, this may not be a solution that fits. Please note that IT will need some information, including your speed test results and Internet plan details, before we can move forward with a MiFi request.
If you have any questions or concerns, please submit an IT ticket to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 213-738-6762.