How do I fix my home network’s inconsistent download speeds?

It’s time to roll up sleeves and get our hands dirty once again when we study wireless networking. I realize that the readers often complain with regards to the wifi connections at Lifehack.

Gareth writes:.

I am a part-time schoolteacher working from home. It was not possible for me to utilize my personal laptop in teaching since it’s so unreliable. Luckily for me, I got a different laptop which runs well. I have had a fast and efficient connection with my laptop before. I presently receive 125mb download and 10mb upload speeds. At that moment, some tests regularly come in under 5mb. Then my ps4 isn’t completely functional at all. Speeds of under 5mb usually are the norm. Often less than 1mb. Although I bought a wifi extender and lan cable, I have still been under 5mb in speed although in the same room as the PS4 which was on a lan connection.

If you need any help, I can provide it for you. I tried to change the dns but this did not change anything. I feel that the speeds should be good but in other devices. I know the PS4 does not have 2.4 GHz but surely that won’t limit the speed as drastically as it is thought to be?

Now is probably the time to buy a new router.

My intention is to thank you for giving me a chance to read your problem as it will allow me to send to the client without interruptions. While I have some great troubleshooting ideas in mind, I got to a part in your letter where you shared that connecting devices via Ethernet cable didn’t work at all. It complicates things a lot.

When people experience difficulties with their devices, the three basic troubleshooting tips I always suggest to them include:

  • Reboot the router.
  • Upgrade the firmware in your router.
  • Attempt switching to Ethernet where possible.

Maybe trying the second idea will help with any networking problems. Then I might even recommend a complete factory reset of your router. All that you have to do is set up the wifi again. Then all your problems will just vanish. I’m also assuming that you are using a fairly modern Ethernet cable to do it (Cat 5E or Cat 6). You might want to try testing out a different Ethernet cable, in case.

I find it hard to understand how your PlayStation 4 is struggling so much on an Ethernet connection and I also believe you will experience the same thing if you connect your old laptop to your router via an Ethernet cable. You could try connecting back to your PS4. If you’re still having slower Wi-Fi speeds, try connecting with your new laptop. The goal is to determine whether there’s something wrong with your router or if it’s your devices. It’s likely that there are also some technical issues with the router when everything is set up.

For example, maybe your newer laptop is connecting over your router’s 5 GHz band which is a more robust connection than the other older computer is capable of. The Ethernet topic is perplexing but there’s a possibility that you will see a normal performance if you use a different Ethernet cable, as mentioned, or try testing it on your router.

If your router is actually provided by your ISP, I think it’s time to call up and get a replacement (or an upgrade). If they remain unmoved, or you dislike confronting the issues, find out if they can provide any firmware updates. (Or try reboot your modem to see if this forces any updates.).

Or maybe you could buy a wireless router of your own, I recommend something cheap and simple, given your speeds—and turn your cable modem/router into bridge mode. Essentially, you want to remove the smart features from your modem and make it dumb.

It might be worth taking a look at a new router if you already have this setup. Go for something lightweight and fast, like TP-Link Archer A7, and switch it with whatever you’re using as at the moment. That should solve your data and wireless signal troubles.

Generally speaking, I generally avoid using wireless extenders if at all possible. Since lack of coordination between extenders can effectively make your broadband unusable. You need to select a wireless adapter that uses the 5Ghz band to connect to your router and emit a 2.4Ghz network, or a wireless adapter that uses the 2.4Ghz band to connect to your router and output a 5Ghz network. If your extender is operating at the same frequency as your router, you’ll experience reductions in speed.

I give you appreciation for taking steps to troubleshoot your router. You don’t need to mess with port forwarding, as that won’t affect your download/upload speeds, but rather your network speed as you’re accessing an online gaming site, for example.

If you really want to stick with this router, you could set up 2.4GHz and 5Ghz wireless networks separately. That might at least allow you to limp along with whichever phone model gives you reasonable access (if any). This is just a stop-gap measure, nothing more. If all of these techniques don’t work, then perhaps I should consider shopping for a new router. That’s normal! Internet routers get disconnected because of the silliest problems.

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