Slow Wi-Fi: What Causes It and How Can You Fix It


  • NetSpot
  • #1 NetSpot
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting

  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting

  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews

Fortunately, there are ways how to fix slow Wi-Fi, and we explore them in this article.

Why Is My Wi-Fi So Slow?

To understand what makes your Wi-Fi slow and how to fix bad Wi-Fi, you first need to understand what Wi-Fi actually is. Essentially, Wi-Fi is a technology that allows various internet-enabled devices to connect to the internet over the air. A Wi-Fi network is created using a wireless router. Not all wireless routers create the same Wi-Fi network, however.

Here are some of the most common reasons for slow Wi-Fi:

  • The router isn’t able to transmit the wireless signal sufficiently far away.
  • There are too many clients connecting to the internet at the same time, and the router doesn’t have enough capacity for all of them.
  • The router broadcasts on an overutilized channel, which causes issues with signal interference.
  • The placement of the router is not ideal, preventing the signal from evenly traveling in all directions.
  • The router is too old, or it hasn’t been updated and restarted in a long time.

Continue reading to learn how you can avoid these and other causes of slow Wi-Fi so that you can enjoy the internet without any limitations.

The Strenght of Your Wi-Fi Signal Is Too Weak

Like any signal, the Wi-Fi signal has a limited range. There are several factors that influence how far from a wireless router a device can be and still have a good signal strength, and the router itself is one of them.

Low-end routers tend to have weaker, often internal, antennas that are not nearly as powerful as the antennas found on high-end wireless routers. What’s more, high-end routers support MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) and MU-MIMO (multi user-multiple-input multiple-output), which are used for sending and receiving more than one data signal simultaneously over the same radio channel by exploiting multipath propagation.

MIMO and MU-MIMO are often used in conjunction with beamforming, a signal processing technique that allows for directional signal transmission or reception. In other words, a wireless router with support for beamforming can focus the signal to the device that needs it the most, which results in a longer transmission range and higher maximum transmission speeds.

Wi-Fi 6 introduced OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access), a wireless frequency modulation technology that provides a significant boost in performance when data are transmitted simultaneously to and from multiple clients.

But even the most state-of-the-art router equipped with all the latest and greatest technologies is limited in terms of its range to a certain degree. And when solid obstacles and large metal appliances are thrown into the mix, the limitation can be quite severe.

use NetSpot to make a WiFi signal strength visualization

That’s why it’s always a good idea to use NetSpot’s Survey Mode, which allows you to make a Wi-Fi signal strength visualization by walking, marking your position on the map, and giving NetSpot a few seconds to collect data samples.

NetSpot Survey Mode

To use it, simply open NetSpot and click the Survey button. Then upload or create a map of the area you wish to survey and let NetSpot guide you through the process. After you’re done, you will know exactly what the range of your wireless router is and how to fix slow Wi-Fi.

The Capacity of Your Network Is Exhausted

Any Wi-Fi network is like an invisible party venue. When you’re on a Wi-Fi network alone, you can go wild and crazy and use it to its full capacity. When you invite just the right number of friends to join you, everyone can still have fun without bumping into one another too often. But when too many people come in, the network quickly becomes crowded and the options how to have fun become severely limited.

The total capacity of the invisible venue is determined mostly by your internet connection and the kind of specification for implementing WLAN computer communication you’re using. If you pay for fiber optic internet, you can naturally expect higher speeds than with a broadband internet services.

The problem with many Wi-Fi networks is that they are held at the same party venue as other networks. The Wi-Fi signal is transmitted on five distinct frequency ranges: 2.4 GHz, 3.6 GHz, 4.9 GHz, 5 GHz, and 5.9 GHz. Each of these five ranges is divided into several channels, with some channels overlapping others.

In practice, if your wireless router and your neighboring’s router both broadcast a Wi-Fi signal on the 2.4 GHz frequency band and the first Wi-Fi channel, it’s like two parties being held at the same party venue simultaneously.

Being a professional wireless analysis application, NetSpot can help you discover all nearby Wi-Fi networks and determine which of them might be interfering with your Wi-Fi network.

NetSpot Inspector Mode
Analyze your Wi-Fi on Android

Optimize your WiFi network for maximum performance. Inspect, compare, survey, and analyze WiFi networks with NetSpot.

NetSpot for Android (inspector banner)NetSpot for Android (inspector banner)

The Speed and Connection Type of Your Internet

Understanding why your Wi-Fi is so slow requires not only a look at your home setup but also the type of internet service you're receiving. Even with a perfect home network, you need to make sure that the internet service your provider is delivering can meet your needs. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case, especially if your internet is delivered via less reliable means such as:

  • Satellite: While satellite internet can cover vast distances, it's often slower than other types due to the significant distance the data has to travel.
  • Fixed wireless: This type of connection can be affected by various factors, including weather conditions, physical obstructions, and distance from the transmitter.
  • 5G: The high-frequency bands used by 5G have a shorter range and can be blocked by physical obstacles, like walls or trees. This means that if you're not in a direct line of sight with a 5G tower, your connection could be slower than expected.

Even if you have a more reliable type of internet access, such as fiber optic, your internet plan may still be too limited. This could be in terms of download and upload speed, or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) might be intentionally slowing down your connection, which is typically referred to as throttling and can occur for various reasons, such as exceeding your data cap or during peak usage times.

Some ISPs also throttle bandwidth during peak hours to alleviate network congestion, and they may even prioritize certain types of traffic (web browsing, for example) over others (like video streaming), a practice known as traffic shaping.

You’re Using an Old Wi-Fi Standard

Older wireless routers only support older specifications for implementing wireless local area network (WLAN) computer communication, such as 802.11g, which operates at a maximum transmission speed of 54 Mbit/s and was adopted in the market starting in January 2003.

Newer wireless routers, on the other hand, support 802.11n (capable of operating at a maximum transmission speed of 600 Mbit/s on both the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz bands), 802.11ac (capable of operating at a maximum transmission speed of 1 Gbit/s), and the latest models now support even 802.11ax (capable of operating at a maximum transmission speed of around 10 Gbit/s), which is referred to as Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E.

As you can see, it’s unreasonable to expect very high Wi-Fi speeds if you have an ancient wireless router. Similarly, it’s also unreasonable to expect high Wi-Fi speeds with a cutting-edge wireless router but old client devices that don't support the same modern specification for implementing WLAN computer communication.

determine whether your current wireless router is due for a replacement

If you know that your wireless router is past its primetime, you should consider upgrading to a newer model. While the other tips on how to fix slow Wi-Fi described in this article would be applicable even with a slow router, you might be wasting your time trying to implement them since the gains would likely be minuscule.

To determine whether your current wireless router is due for a replacement, we recommend you download and use NetSpot, a wireless network site survey application for Mac and Windows.

  1. Open NetSpot.
  2. Start a new site survey.
  3. Select the Wi-Fi network broadcasted by your wireless router.

NetSpot will accurately measure wireless network speed, sending queries to random servers and calculating the time it takes for them to be sent and received. Using the obtained information, which includes upload rate, download rate, and wireless transmit rate, you can then decide whether your wireless router still has some life left in it.

Moreover, NetSpot offers a Planning mode that allows you to "try" different access points and choose the one that fits best by simulating the expected performance of each access point in a virtual version of your environment before you make any purchase or change to your existing setup.

NetSpot Planning mode

Adjust Quality of Service (QoS) Settings

Most modern routers come with QoS settings that allow you to prioritize certain types of traffic over others. For example, you can prioritize video streaming over file downloads to ensure smooth playback.

It’s possible that you or someone else with access to your router’s settings has accidentally or intentionally misconfigured the QoS settings, leading to slow Wi-Fi speeds for certain devices or applications. To fix this issue, you can either disable QoS completely or make sure that the feature is properly configured for your needs.

10 Steps to Fix a Slow Wi-Fi Network

Dealing with Wi-Fi slowdowns is never fun, but there are many things you can do to improve the performance of your network. We recommend you go through the following steps in the order they’re written because you always want to try the most expensive and time-consuming solutions last:

Step 1

Diagnose the cause of the slowdown

Before you go any further, you should determine if the slowdown is caused by a local problem or your internet service provider. You can do that by running an internet speed test app like NetSpot on your Android and iOS device and comparing the results with the speeds advertised by your provider.

Android internet speedtest
Step 2

Turn your router off and back on again

Modern routers are basically small computers with fairly complex operating systems that are guaranteed to contain more or less serious bugs capable of causing all kinds of performance problems. A simple router restart is often enough to leave the buggy state and resume normal operation.

Reboot your router
Step 3

Find a better Wi-Fi channel

It’s always a good idea to find out which Wi-Fi channels are utilized the most in your area and avoid them. If you can find a non-overlapping Wi-Fi channel that’s not used by any other network, you can consider yourself lucky. If not, use the second least utilized non-overlapping channel available.

Switch Different Channel
Step 4

Optimize router placement

You can not expect your Wi-Fi network to perform great if your router is tucked away in some corner, far away from your devices. If you’re not sure where to place it, create a Wi-Fi signal heatmap first to gain better understanding of Wi-Fi coverage in your area.

Create signal heatmap
Step 5

Kill bandwidth hogs

Bandwidth hogs are like vampires, sucking out the blood from your poor Wi-Fi router. To keep human bandwidth hogs away from your router, use a strong password. To prevent malware from taking advantage of your internet connection, install a reliable antivirus solution.

Wireless security
Step 6

Limit the number of connected devices

Some routers are not powerful enough to support a large number of simultaneous connections. To ensure that all users can achieve reasonably fast speeds, you can limit the number of devices that can connect to the router at the same time.

Connected devices
Step 7

Find a reliable VPN

A VPN can speed up your connection if there’s some kind of obstruction on the path your data packets would normally travel. Essentially, it provides an alternative route that may come in handy if the route provided by your ISP suddenly start to take up too much time.

Stronger Security (VPN)
Step 8

Upgrade your router

Sometimes, it’s simply not worth troubleshooting an old router that uses outdated wireless technologies and has very limited transmission power. Instead, buy a new one and instantly enjoy improved signal strength and faster download and upload speeds.

Buy a new WiFi Router
Step 9

Consider buying a Wi-Fi repeater or mesh system

Besides replacing your existing router with a newer model, you can also fix slow Wi-Fi speeds by adding a Wi-Fi repeater or mesh system to your network. A repeater is great for extending your signal further in one direction, while a mesh system can cover multiple additional zones with a strong, seamless signal.

Set Up Mesh WiFi
Step 10

Switch to a different ISP

If you’re constantly dealing with a slow Wi-Fi network, your internet service provider might be to blame. To verify that it really is, you want to perform an internet speed test using a wired connection and compare the result with the speed you’re paying for.
NetSpot WiFi SpeedTest online
Check your Internet speed

Run the Internet speed test to make sure you are getting the best WiFi speed.

speed Test Icon

Get a perfect WiFi speed with NetSpot

Don’t settle for a decent Internet connection, NetSpot ensures a consistent WiFi speed.


Wi-Fi slowdowns are among the most annoying problems internet users deal with on a regular basis. The good news is that learning how to fix slow Wi-Fi is seldom difficult, especially if you're familiar with the methods described in this article and equipped with a wireless network analyzer like NetSpot.


Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.12+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10/11) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax wireless network adapter.

  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews
  • #1
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting

  • 500K
  • Users
  • 10
  • Years
  • Cross-platform
  • Mac/Windows

How To Fix Slow Wi-Fi — FAQs

How do I make my Wi-Fi faster?

There are many different things you can do to make your Wi-Fi faster, including:

  • Turn your router off and back on again.
  • Use a more suitable Wi-Fi channel.
  • Find a better place for your router.
  • Protect your Wi-Fi network with a password.
  • Eliminate signal interference.
  • Upgrade to a high-end Wi-Fi router.
  • Limit the number of connected devices.
  • Switch to a more reliable ISP.
How do I fix slow Wi-Fi at home?

To fix slow Wi-Fi at home, you first need to figure out what causes it to perform so poorly. We recommend you use a Wi-Fi analyzer like NetSpot to determine your network’s configuration and coverage. Then, use the information provided by NetSpot and combine it with the tips from this article.

Why is my Wi-Fi so slow all of a sudden?

If your Wi-Fi network has suddenly become very slow, you might be dealing with the so-called bandwidth hog, a user or application that uses substantially more bandwidth than other users and applications on the same network. There’s also a chance that your ISP is experiencing issues, so take your time to analyze the problem and don’t jump to any conclusions.

How do I fix bad Wi-Fi?

You should start by determining why your Wi-Fi is performing poorly. For example, it's possible that your router is tucked away in a distant corner, or perhaps there's too much wireless interference in your area caused by other networks using the same Wi-Fi band and channel. Once you know the cause of your Wi-Fi issues, it's time to take the right steps to fix them, which could be as simple as moving your router to a better location or switching to a different channel.

How do I fix a slow Wi-Fi speed?

If your Wi-Fi speed is considerably slower than the speed advertised by your internet service provider, then you can do the following to speed it up:

  • Kick out all Wi-Fi leeches by changing your password.
  • Find a better place for your router.
  • Analyze your Wi-Fi environment and optimize your router settings accordingly.
  • Buy a more powerful router.
Why is my Wi-Fi so slow all of a sudden?

There are many causes of Wi-Fi slowdowns, including:

  • The router is positioned too far away from its clients.
  • Too many people sharing the same Wi-Fi.
  • High-bandwidth tasks such as torrenting and video streaming.
  • Wireless signal interference created by other Wi-Fi networks.
Have more questions?
Submit a request or write a couple words.

Get NetSpot for Free

Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.12+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10/11) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax wireless network adapter.