Are you working from home these days? Many people are. And, many families are struggling with bandwidth. As a father of two kids and having a wife that’s now also working remote, I’m experiencing the same challenges you are. Here’s four questions and two other points to consider when it comes to finding a fix to slow internet speed.Did I restart my router/modem?
This may sound too simple to make a difference but it actually can. Typically, we’ve got more devices connected to the internet or home network than we realize. Unplug the device’s power cord then wait 10-20 seconds before powering back up again. Leaving devices on for days on end can fill your device with "garbage" much like what happens when you do the same with your computer.
Action item: Restart your router/modem regularly. Also, reboot your home networking equipment once a month or more often if you experience issues.
Did I update firmware?
Like computers, the other devices you use that plug into the network tend to need operating system updates. Since all brands and devices have different update methods, always check your hardware manual for instructions.
Action item: Check for updates every few months unless your equipment is owned and maintained by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Don't forget to check the firmware on devices you don't often use. In this case checking every 6-12 months should keep things in good working order.
Are the kids’ toys affecting my Wi-Fi?
You might have heard parents talk about the bits of conversations from the neighbors that baby monitors sometimes pick up. (Or maybe you’ve experienced this yourself.) While this interference is becoming less of an issue, some electronic devices do interfere with Wi-Fi signals. Did you know items like microwaves, radios, and even children’s toys (gaming systems) can affect the quality of your Wi-Fi signal? They can cause disconnection too.
Action item: I recommend using a "hard wire" connection to your modem or router. Make sure to use a certified CAT5, CAT5e, or CAT6 Ethernet cable instead of a wireless (Wi-Fi) connection when you can.
Do I have any "zombie" devices eating up my bandwidth?
This is one my household struggles with quite a bit since the kids are now attending school through online learning and my wife is now working remotely too. When you think about the gaming systems, wearables, smart appliances, cell phones, and home computers, it is easy to forget you might have some devices connected to your Wi-Fi that you don’t use or need. An old gaming system, DVD player that needs updates, or a kid’s toy can eat up more bandwidth from your home router than you realize.
Action item: Make an inventory of all of those electronic devices in your house. Choose what needs to be connected and unplug what doesn’t.
Have I ensured my home computers is as up-to-date as my work computer?
If you're using a personal computer to work from home, this is an excellent time to check for Windows updates. Yes, I had to spend a good couple of hours updating my kids' laptops with updates before they could do all this "work from home-schooling" but keeping your internet connection in top shape isn't going to do you much good if your slowness problem is on your computer itself.
Action item: Update Windows on not just your home computer but any other computers your family uses.
Two more thoughts to consider...
Remember, any "wireless device" is essentially a radio source and if it is malfunctioning, can put out interference that will slow down your Wi-Fi. That includes things like keyboards, mice, some video game controllers, security cameras, etc. Also, if you notice that you're getting a better connection in one part of the house than another, there could be something interfering with the signal.
For more resources on how to keep business going while we deal with COVID-19, check out this link.
For tips on working remote – from setting up your office to communication expectations, read this.