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Why Is My Download Speed So Slow?

BY Phillip Tuckwiller

You’re in a hurry and your computer is struggling to download a crucial document you need for your next meeting. You want to bang your head against the wall as the download hovers and stalls and you ask yourself why is my download speed so slow? We’ve all been there. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so straightforward.

A lot of things factor into your download speed, including the age of your computer, what internet plan you have, the connection to the website you’re using, website traffic, viruses, and outdated software. For mobile use or wifi connections, your signal could be obstructed.

Assuming your computer is less than two years old, let’s go over what you can do to speed up your downloads.

For a quick fix, try connecting your computer directly to the internet via an ethernet cable. A direct connection can speed up downloads if congestion, viruses, and outdated software are not a factor.

If you’re using a wireless network (wifi), check what gigahertz connection you’re using. If you’re on 2.4 GHz, try not to place your cordless phone next to your device. Your phone can cause interference with the signal.

How Your Internet Plan Affects Speed

Let’s say your local Internet Service Provider (ISP) is advertising speeds of 40 megabits per second. You’re trying to download a file and notice you’re getting about 4 megabytes per second. What gives?

The answer is in the name. Your ISP is advertising 40 megabits (Mb) per second, which translates to about 40,000,000 bits per second. However, your computer stores data using bytes, not bits. So if you see your computer downloading a 5 megabytes (MB) per second (not megabits).

HowToGeek broke down how to find out if you’re getting what you’re paying for. Divide your connection speed (megabites) by 8. In this case: 40 divided by 8 is 5, which matches the number of megabytes you’re able to download per second.

If you did the math and you’re not getting numbers where close to where you should be, contact your ISP. There may be an outage in the area, maintenance work, or onsite issues with your internet hardware and connection.

Website and Server Connections Slow Down Speeds

The easiest troubleshooting solution for slow server speeds is to switch the server you’re using. If you’re downloading a game through a client such as Steam, you have the option to change to a server closer to you or one that is more stable. The closer and more stable the connection, the faster the download speed should be.

The more probable issue would be website and server congestion. The internet slows down as more users connect to it, no matter how fast your plan is. The type of internet you use is the determining factor for your connection speed, according to Microsoft. You can be using dial-up, DSL, and cable. Using cable is fastest, while dial-up is traditionally the slowest option.

A normal wide area network (WAN) connection will not prioritize your browsing needs over that of the person next to you.

There is a solution. Think of the internet and your server as a highway. During peak times, the congestion is similar to rush hour traffic. You could widen the highway to add more lanes by increasing your speed, or you could prioritize which traffic uses what lane.

Upgrading to SD-WAN allows you to do just that. It’s like creating an HOV lane that is exclusively for websites of your choosing. This way, your employees connecting to a video conference call won’t be interrupted by your employees who are streaming music or doing research. Traffic on the HOV lane will continue going 70 miles per hour, while those on the regular lanes will experience the regular bottlenecks caused by new users entering the highway.

Outdated Software Causes Internet Lag

Outdated software can slow down your device, including downloads. If your drivers are too old for your current operating system, it’s likely your PC will run slower to compensate. Updating them manually or automatically may help.

If your computer is running an outdated version of a program that is required for your download, it is possible your download will stall and fail due to it as well.

The most common problem is that updating software often increases the amount of space they take up on your computer. This can lead to slower load times and failed downloads as your computer runs out of memory for more downloads. Removing older apps and replacing them with newer ones can solve this issue.

Viruses Can Slow Down Your Computer

Viruses and malware bog down your computer’s operating system. They can cause sluggish performance and crashes, which can stall downloads.

If you’ve ruled out everything from viruses, older technology, and congestion, then contact your ISP to ensure you’re receiving. The problem could also be caused by your router, internal internet connection wires, or a defective product such as a splitter.

Make sure your computer is protected before going online. If you’re interested in faster downloads with additional protection, check out SD-WAN Platinum from SimpleWAN. SD-WAN Platinum uses next-generation technology to protect, optimize and improve your network.

Beyond upgrading to SD-WAN, ensure your antivirus is up to date and providing you with top tier protection.

For more information on SD-WAN, SimpleWAN today to learn how SD-WAN Platinum can help speed up your business’s network.