Technology Explained

Does Your Wi-Fi Speed Drop? Here’s Why and 7 Tips to Fix It

James Frew Updated 30-12-2018

One moment you’re dominating the latest online game while streaming a movie, but the next you can barely load a simple website. Maybe the connection is worse on one device or in a particular part of the house.


You can’t seem to get full internet speed through your router. If you rely on Wi-Fi for your home network, then it’s important to optimize Wi-Fi reception in your house.

1. Test Your Internet Connection

Screenshot Of Speedtest By Ookla Running A Speed Test

Before investigating your Wi-Fi network, you should rule out whether the problem lies with your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

If you have a laptop, computer, or games console, test your internet connection by plugging your device directly into the router with an Ethernet cable.

Using this setup, if the internet still doesn’t work, then it’s likely a problem with your ISP. Many providers can perform remote diagnostics, so it’s worth contacting their support team to try and get to the bottom of the issue. However, if the internet works then, you may have a problem with your Wi-Fi network.


If you were trying to access a particular website, use a site like to see if the website is down for everyone or just you. While still connected via an ethernet cable, run a speed test How to Test Your Wi-Fi Speed (And 7 Mistakes You Should Avoid) Wi-Fi speed tests can tell you how fast your wireless speed is. These tips will help you check Wi-Fi speed accurately. Read More .

This will help you get an idea of the average Wi-Fi download speeds you should be getting on your network. Keep in mind that cabled connections will have higher speeds, so you should expect a small drop on Wi-Fi connected devices.

2. Update Your Firmware

As with other areas of your digital life, you should ensure that your router’s firmware is up-to-date. Along with essential security patches, these updates often come with many bug fixes which can make your Wi-Fi speed faster solve all connection issues.

Make sure to update your firmware before diving into any further troubleshooting, as it may save you hours of fruitless work. If you were already running the latest firmware, then reboot the router to clear the cache and reset the software.


3. Switch Wi-Fi Channels

Wi-Fi networks broadcast on many different channels and two separate frequency bands. In the US, there are 11 standard Wi-Fi channels, while worldwide there are usually 13. In the early days of wireless networking, routers only broadcast on at 2.4 GHz.

However, as more of us have come to have home Wi-Fi networks the amount of channels has needed to expand. Many modern routers can now broadcast at either 2.4GHz or 5GHz.

While this gives you more options, it’s always possible that another nearby Wi-Fi network or other electrical equipment is already broadcasting at your network’s frequency. Overcrowding a particular frequency may cause your network to slow down, and could be the root of your Wi-Fi problems.

To rule this out, make sure you pick the best Wi-FI channel for your router.


4. Check Bandwidth Consumption

If you find that your Wi-Fi speeds drop periodically or at certain times of day, then it’s possible software or other devices are eating away at your bandwidth. Large downloads, video streaming, or online gaming can be bandwidth-hogs so check for these first.

You can find out who’s eating your Wi-Fi bandwidth What's Using My Bandwidth? 5 Tips to Monitor Home Network Usage Is something draining your internet bandwidth capacity? Check and troubleshoot what is using your bandwidth with these tips. Read More directly from the router or a third party program. Delving into your router’s settings should let you find out which devices are connected to your network. If there are any you don’t recognize, then you should remove them.

Malware could also be to blame for your slow speeds, so be sure enable protection and run an antivirus scan.

5. Optimize Wi-Fi Router Placement

Wi-Fi Router Positioned Adjacent To Flower Pot
Image Credit: ronstik/Depositphotos


When first setting up your network, the position of your router is probably one of the last things on your mind. However, the environment around your router can cause a significant impact on the quality of your Wi-Fi network.

Although we can’t see them, wireless signals are passing all around us, but they can get slowed down or, in some cases, blocked entirely. Concrete and metal are so effective at blocking wireless signals that they are even used in Faraday cages.

So, if your router is in your concrete-walled basement, you should move it elsewhere in the house. You should also try to position the router in the center your home. Wi-Fi signals broadcast in 360 degrees, so it doesn’t need to be at one end of the house to get the best coverage.

Electrical interference from devices like microwaves and even Christmas lights could also be one of the reasons your Wi-Fi is so slow Why Is My Wi-Fi So Slow? Here's How to Fix It Need to download data fast, but have slow Wi-Fi? Why is this happening? Here's how to fix a slow Wi-Fi connection and speed it up. Read More .

6. Tighten Your Network’s Security

During your investigations, you may have found suspicious devices connected to your network. Although you’ll have removed them, they suggest that someone has gained unauthorized access to your Wi-Fi network.

This could be something an innocuous as a neighbor leeching off your network, down to something far more threatening.

There are plenty of ways to configure your router to make your home network really secure How to Configure Your Router to Make Your Home Network Really Secure Default router settings put your network at risk, allowing freeloading strangers to squeeze nadwidth and potentially commit crimes. Use our summary to configure your standard router settings to prevent unauthorized access to your network. Read More . However, at a minimum, you should change your router’s default admin login. This is often set to user: admin and password: password. Because nearly every router uses these default credentials, they are easy to exploit.

You should also ensure that your Wi-Fi network is secured with a wireless password. Most routers have this enabled by default with the password stuck somewhere on the device itself.

However, if you want to change this, log in to your router with your newly created credentials, and you can manually set a new wireless password.

7. Upgrade Old Router Hardware

If you’ve had the same router for more than a few years, it may be time to consider an upgrade to boost your Wi-Fi signal. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend considerable sums to see a dramatic improvement.

One of the easiest is to upgrade your router’s antenna. Most routers come fitted with standard antennas that only have a limited range. You can buy an aftermarket antenna for as low as $10, so it doesn’t have to put a strain on your bank balance either.

Router Attenna On A White Background Pointing Towards The Ground
Image Credit: Garry518/DepositPhotos

If you find that the Wi-Fi signal is weak in certain areas of your home, then it might be worth investing in a Wi-Fi extender The Best Wi-Fi Extenders: Which One Is Right for You? What are the best Wi-Fi extenders out there? We've rounded up three of the best performing, cheapest, and best value wi-fi extenders for 2016. But which one is right for you? Read More . These reasonably affordable devices connect to your network and rebroadcast the signal so that you can get additional coverage in those hard-to-reach spots.

If these upgrades don’t remedy the situation, then it’s time to upgrade your router 6 Reasons to Upgrade Your Wireless Router Is your wireless router old and outdated? You may be missing out on several newer features that can improve your connection quality and make your life easier. Read More .

Get Your Wi-Fi Speed Under Control

It’s not always straightforward when it comes to creating the optimal Wi-Fi setup, but it is well worth the effort. The next time you want to play an online game, stream Netflix, or browse the web you’ll be thankful you put the time into optimizing your network.

Keeping your router’s hardware and software up-to-date, positioning it well, and selecting the best channel will make a world of difference to your Wi-Fi speed. We’ve looked at Windows tweaks that can help speed up your connection How to Speed Up Your Internet With 7 Windows Tweaks Here's how to improve your internet connection speed in Windows with simple tips and tweaks anyone can use. Read More if these don’t do enough. Meanwhile, you should also know what to do if your computer slows down when you connect to the internet If Your Computer Slows Down When Connected to the Internet, Try This Finding that your computer slows down when connected to the internet? Here are common reasons and fixes for this. Read More .

Related topics: Bandwidth, Wi-Fi.

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  1. george christoforou
    January 26, 2018 at 10:18 am

    It may be caused by malware of software conflicts. The way round this is to put the computer in safe mode with networking.

    This is the only thing that worked for me

  2. Tim
    March 18, 2017 at 3:24 am

    I experience major download speed fluctuation on a wired network!

  3. Nancy
    September 11, 2016 at 2:48 am

    I wish I could figure out why our laptop is suddenly losing internet connection. I've done allowed the updates and still it drops Internet, while remaining connected to the router. We have to physically walk the laptop to the router where it connects again and is usable back in the family room for awhile, until it drops again. It is connected to the 2.4ghz band and the only device on it. All other devices are on the 5ghz and work well, with no internet loss. The laptop has only 2.4 capability. I've used a wifi analyzer and there really seems to be very little drop in signal throughout the house. I've done speed tests. With the desktop connected via Ethernet to the router, I get good ping and speeds. With the iPad on 5ghz wifi, it is slower and jerky, showing drops to nothing and then back up several times during the test.
    Does this sound like a router issue? It's just over a year old. Belkin N600. Thanks.

  4. Adel
    May 8, 2016 at 1:30 am

    Thank you

  5. guest
    May 3, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    If you gaming you shouldn't even bother be using wifi, it's not as fast as Ethernet.

  6. SURG3ON
    February 4, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Is it possible to keep my speed constant even when others are online using my network without kicking them off?

  7. Anonymous
    June 24, 2015 at 4:53 am

    went though many of the step in you article and thanks for all the info. However, even though working with all the info I jumped my wifi from 1meg dn to 4meg dn. I was thinking I needed to replace my old router. But decided to try one last thing, I blew the router out with canned air.
    The down load speed jumped to 25megs down. So don't forget cleaning, sometimes it works wonders!

  8. ned
    March 16, 2015 at 3:32 am

    I find my download speed gets slow often but when i switch off the wifi on my computer it speeds it up instantly. does anyone know what's slowing it down?

  9. rammurthy
    February 25, 2015 at 8:00 am

    i have using public wifi 801.2n there is a status spped is 13mbps but i have download speed is 1mbps ..once i have got 13mbps but now its not reach to that speed is there any prblem in nmy pc

  10. Anthony
    February 17, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    My question is how can I set my router so that it gets closer to the 105 mbps download speed I am paying for. With a direct connection to the modem, it pulls 105+. Once I switch to Wi Fi only, it only gets around 25 to 26 mbps. Is there a setting which will allow a faster speed?

    • Drew
      July 22, 2016 at 10:15 pm

      Could be your wireless card or wireless adapter you're using. Might be slow or old. Try purchasing a gigabit network adapter and using it. I max out my connection

  11. MH_A
    December 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    by laptop when i connect using wifi i every thing is ok but when i connect the phone using wifi the speed getting too low that i cant use net

    my router is d-link dsl-2730u v1

  12. Scott T
    January 17, 2014 at 6:18 am

    That was a great read! thank you for this.

  13. Annie B
    December 31, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Great article. Now I have a clue on how to find out what's wrong with my wifi! Thanks for giving me a place to start.

    • Danny S
      December 31, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      I'm glad I could be of help, Annie! :)

  14. Nicolas L
    December 31, 2013 at 10:35 am

    If only my neighbours knew about this...

  15. Wally
    December 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Geeez . . . first I have to figure out what my password is!

    • Danny S
      December 31, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      Once you do, reset it to something that you can actually remember. :P Just be sure that it's still a strong password!

  16. Stayz
    December 28, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    We used to have bad wifi signals because our wifi setup was far from where the room we usually do the wireless internet surfing and all the walls blocking. But we recently changed the place of our wifi and did a DIY windsurfer from youtube tutorials cantenna is also effective but my mom preferred the windsurfer and it did a good job we get the maximize wifi full bar signals. Another thing we used a name of a virus for our wifi so neighbors wouldnt even dare do piggybacking or leeching. Our internet connection problem though is our provider themselves because of the poor service they give not the wifi router's fault. But I would do the checking of wth is eating my bandwidth. XD

  17. dragonmouth
    December 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    "Of course, MAC address filtering is time consuming and therefore not ideal if you have guests visiting regularly."
    If by "guests visiting regularly" you mean the same guests repeatedly, then you should add them to your white list. That's what I do. I have added the two or three people who visit us regularly to my white list.

    If by "guests visiting regularly" you mean a steady stream of different guests, such as the student body of the nearby state university, then maybe you should set up a separate network for their use. /grin/

    • Davespur
      December 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      I think he means one night stands

    • Danny S
      December 31, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      dragonmouth got it right. Sorry if there's any confusion on how that sentence could be interpreted. I meant the latter, but the former is correct as well.

  18. Vs V
    December 28, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Modem connected to router, WiFi works
    Modem connected to desktop, connection works
    But when modem is connected to router which is connected to desktop, no connection. Earlier it used to be fine. Why is it happening so?

    • pceasies
      December 28, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      When you say Wifi works, do you mean LAN or internet access?

    • pceasies
      December 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      If you have Tomato or DD-WRT it's not too difficult to setup a guest wireless network that's isolated from your regular network. You setup a VLAN for guests and one for your regular network and ensure both have internet access and can't communicate. There are guides online and one should theoretically work for both firmwares if it's based off cli commands.

    • Vs V
      December 29, 2013 at 6:44 am

      Thanks pceasies, but I am not very familiar with the terms that you used. I think I will get someone more knowledgeable to get this fixed.

    • Danny S
      December 31, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      How do you know that WiFi works when the router is connected to the modem? Wouldn't that be connecting your desktop to the router? Because otherwise you might have some strange issue with your Ethernet.

    • Vs V
      January 1, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Hi Danny S, I will explain: I have a modem- connected to router- router connected to desktop; with this set up my home was Wifi and the desktop had the wired connection. It used to work well until recently when "ethernet" light on the modem stopped glowing with this connection and both wifi and wired connection was disrupted. I tried giving a direct connection from modem to desktop, the wired connection worked well. Then I disconnected the desktop and tried with the modem connected to router and my home was wifi again. But when I try to establish both wifi and wired connection as I was doing all this time, the ethernet light wont glow and both wifi and wired connections are lost.

    • Oron J
      January 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      If the ethernet light on your router has stopped shining, there's a problem in wired connection between the router and the modem. It could be a fault with the modem or router, but most often it is the cable. Get a cable that you have tested elsewhere and know to be working, and use it. If everything works, problem solved. If not, test the router and the modem separately (against the PC), and identify the culprit.

    • Vs V
      February 11, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks Oron J, checked the cable, its working fine...have to test both the modem and the router now.