A slow internet connection can be very disruptive or it can even prevent you from doing what you need to do. If you’ve followed the instructions to set up your browser and you're continuing to run into connection issues, you'll want to follow these steps:
- Check your connection
- Check your hardware
- Reboot your network
- Call your internet service provider
- Check the other devices on your network
- Check your office
- Next steps
Check your connection
The first step to diagnosing an internet issue is getting a baseline reading of your internet speed. There are plenty of free internet speed tests available, but the easiest way to run a test is to use a search engine (such as Google) to search for internet speed test. Click the Start Speed Test and the test will run. It should take only a minute or so.
Your results will include 3 measurements: Mbps download, Mbps upload, and Latency.
- Mbps download measures how quickly information can be sent from other websites or computers to yours. In SimplePractice, you’ll need a download speed of 10 Mbps (megabits per second) or higher.
- Mbps upload measures how quickly information can be sent from your computer to another. In SimplePractice you’ll need an upload speed of 10 Mbps (megabits per second) or higher.
- Latency, measures the roundtrip time it takes for information to be sent between two computers. Unlike upload and download, you want this to be as small as possible. We recommend connections with a latency of 300 milliseconds or lower.
Internet connections can vary widely throughout an office or a house. One room might have lightning-fast speed, yet moving into the next room could lead to dropped connections. Try testing your speed in different spaces.
After running the test in various locations you can tailor your next steps based on whether the connection was consistently slow or sporadically slow:
- Is the connection consistently slow?
- Check your hardware - focus primarily on the modem and computer
- Restart your modem
- Call your internet service provider (ISP)
- Check the other devices on your network
- Is the connection sporadically slow?
- Check your hardware - focusing on the router
- Check your office
Check your hardware
Now that you've checked your internet speed, it’s time to try some solutions for slower connections. If you notice the speed is slow throughout your office, you'll want to check your computer, modem, and router.
Older computers will not be able to take advantage of the full speed of your internet connection. The standard lifespan of a computer ranges from 3-4 years for laptops and 5 years for desktops. After that, the computer will begin to experience degraded performance on even basic tasks.
Have you noticed that your computer is taking longer to boot up? That it overheats? These are signs that it’s time for a new one.
If your computer is still only a few years old but is still slowing down, you can free up RAM on your computer to speed up your internet connection. To free up RAM, uninstall all applications you no longer use and make sure you’re not running multiple programs simultaneously. Here's how:
Like computers, older modems will be also be unable to process the full speed of your internet connection, and the parts are prone to degrade over time. For example, the latest modems can support download speeds of 160 Mbps or higher. This is 4 times faster than modems from even one generation earlier. If your network provider has not updated your modem in a while, it would be worthwhile to give them a call and ask about updating your hardware.
To prolong the life of your modem, keep it in a well-ventilated area away from heaters, wireless phones, microwaves, and televisions, and regularly remove dust from the components with a can of compressed air.
Many modern modems have router functionality built in. If not, you can identify the router as the device with the antenna which is connected to the modem, not to the wall itself.
Routers should be kept away from other devices that emit signals (e.g., cordless phones, televisions, and microwaves) and ideally they should be at least 3 feet off the floor.
Like modems and computers, if you have not upgraded your router in the past few years, consider investing in a new one. You’ll be able to take advantage of modern features like 5G connections, better network monitoring, and more.
If your router is relatively new but still needs a boost, you can purchase additional antennas for it. Consider a directional antenna that points towards the area where you do most of your work.
Reboot your network
Rebooting your network can speed up a sluggish connection by purging old data, much like unclogging a shower drain. To reboot your network, follow these steps:
- Unplug both your router and your modem
- Wait at least 1 minute
- Plug only the modem back in
- Wait at least 2 minutes
- Plug the router back in
- Wait at least 3 minutes
Call your internet service provider
Although you pay for fast internet speeds, you might not be getting all that you're paying for. If you notice that your speed is much lower than the speed you are paying for on your current plan, it’s recommended you call your internet service provider to discuss why your speed is slow. Here are some common reasons:
- You might have hit a data cap
- Some plans limit how much data you can use per month. After that limit is met, your ISP will dramatically slow your internet. If this is the case, you might consider looking into a new plan with a higher limit.
- They might not be delivering their promised speeds
- Keep your internet speed results handy when you call your ISP so that you can make sure you receive the speed you’re paying for going forward.
- You might need to upgrade your plan
- If you are using Telehealth and other data-heavy services, like video streaming, it could be time to discuss a new plan to make sure you have a high-quality internet experience.
Check the other devices on your network
Your internet connection is a resource and like other resources, it needs to be budgeted for accordingly. Streaming audio and video and downloading large files require a lot of data, and that puts a heavy demand on your network. If you share a network with other users who are watching streaming content or downloading movies, this will leave you with a smaller budget to work with.
Network administrators can access your network’s Quality of Service (QoS) settings to view which devices are the most data-demanding. But if you’re not a network administrator, you can speak with the other members of your office to see if anyone has been performing data-heavy actions. If you find many people in your office are doing video conferencing or streaming, you might consider getting a network of your own so you can pay for only the data you use.
Check your office
Does your office have drywall or plaster? Metal support beams or wood? A microwave? All of these things can affect how the WiFi signal travels around your office or home.
If your modem is in a separate room from where you do most of your work, consider moving it into your office or purchasing a WiFi network extender to give your office better signal.
Microwaves operate in the same frequency as wireless routers. So if you have a microwave in your office, consider moving it to another room or as far away from your router as you can.
Finally, while it may not be the prettiest object in your office, placing your router in a central location away from walls and at least 3 feet off the ground can do wonders to speed up a lagging connection.
These are some of the best ways to address a slow internet connection without digging into the network settings yourself. If none of these steps addressed your slow internet speeds, consider reaching out to a network specialist or calling someone at your ISP who can take a look at your network settings to see if changing your channel of upgrading your router firmware might speed up your connection.