10.Review your speeds (and your plan)
You seldom achieve anything like the maximum speed available to your connection and you need to have realistic expectations of what is possible. ADSL is slower than ADSL2, which is slower than most NBN connections. Another thing to consider is the shape. Many plans will slow your connection speed after using your monthly bandwidth tolerance.
If you’re stuck in an area where pair gain means ADSL is your only option, slow speed is going to be a fact of life. If your connection promises ADSL2 but it never goes above 1Mbps, it may be time to complain to your provider.
9. Troubleshoot your hardware
First basic stop: give your modem and router a quick reset (i.e. turn them off and on again) and see if that helps. Check the other computers in your house to see if the internet is also slow. If the problem occurs on only one computer, the problem is with that computer, not your router or modem. Follow these troubleshooting steps to determine if the problem is hardware. Once you’ve repaired (or replaced) your router or modem, you’ll be back to browsing quickly. For more router tips, see our complete guide to knowing your network.
8. Correct your Wi-Fi signal
When using Wi-Fi you may find that your router and internet are fine, but your wireless signal is weak, causing a slowdown. If so, you may need to use a few tricks to reposition, tweak, and improve your router. There’s more than we could divide in a skimpy paragraph – in fact, we have a whole top 10 list just to fix Wi-Fi. Check this if you suspect the wireless signal is the problem.
7. Disable bandwidth hogging plugins and apps
If your hardware appears to be in good working order, check to see if other programs are interfering with the connection. For example, if you download files using BitTorrent, your regular web surfing will slow down. You can also try installing extensions like AdBlock Plus or FlashBlock that will block some of the bandwidth-intensive ads, animations, and videos that can strain your connection. They won’t solve all of your problems, but they can at least help make a slow connection feel more user-friendly.
6. Try a new DNS server
When you type an address like lifehacker.com.au into your browser, your computers use DNS to look up that name and translate it into a computer-friendly IP address. Sometimes the servers your computer searches for information on can have problems or fail completely. For more information, see our guide on Finding the Fastest DNS Servers. If your default DNS server are not If you’re struggling, you probably won’t see that much improvement with an alternative server – but it could at least speed up your browsing by a few milliseconds. As a reminder, if your provider offers unlimited browsing of services like iView, be careful when changing DNS details as it can mean these services will be measured and counted towards your download eligibility.
5. Optimize your web for a slow connection
Troubleshooting slow internet can take a while, and you’ll still need to surf in the meantime. Or maybe you’re in a coffee shop or on a plane and can’t do anything about your slow speeds. In that case, it’s time to optimize your web for a slower connection: use mobile or HTML versions of your favorite websites, turn off images, and use features like Opera Turbo. In fact, we recommend setting up a secondary browser on your laptop for such a situation – this can really make a difference when you’re working on a slow connection.
4. Work smart
When you need to get your slow connection done, you may need to prioritize tasks differently. Divide your tasks into bandwidth-intensive and bandwidth-poor tasks. Do the easy tasks when you’re on a slow connection and group all the bandwidth-intensive tasks together so you can do them when you get faster access. If possible, work outside of your browser. If you’re doing basic writing, do it in your favorite text editor, not your browser. Planning your work ahead of time can at least make the most of a bad situation.
3. Call your ISP
If you tried all of the necessary troubleshooting steps and your internet is still slow, then It’s time to call your ISP and see if the problem is resolved. Remember: don’t automatically assume that something has been done wrong and treat your customer service representative with respect. You are much more likely to get good results. Check out our guide to better customer service for tips on how to deal with the situation.
2. Find a new provider
If your ISP can’t help you (maybe they don’t offer the speeds you want or you are just fed up with terrible customer service), it’s time to look elsewhere. Your choices at a given address will vary. If you are really lucky you have the option of an NBN connection. In urban areas, you may be lucky enough to have a variety of ADSL providers and the option of cable. However, you may only have a single ADSL connection option (although you may still be able to choose who will provide you with that connection). Using a 3G or 4G hotspot is another option, but data is much more expensive in this context.
1. Use your time productively
If you’re lucky, you can get your internet speed back on snuff quickly and stress-free. If not, you can at least try to find a good phrase: as long as your work isn’t too bandwidth-intensive, slow internet can actually make you more productive. If Facebook takes a minute to load, the chances of you taking a “quick break” (which turns into an hour-long photo feast) when you’re supposed to work are much less.
This article has been updated since its original publication.
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