What to Do When You Have a Slow WiFi Connection

If you find yourself connected to a slow WiFi connection, here’s what you can do to make the most of it.

There’s nothing worse than connecting to a hotel’s WiFi or another WiFi network in your area only to discover that it’s slow as molasses. Websites load slowly, mobile games lag or just don’t connect at all, and streaming any kind of media is out of the question completely.

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Everyone has most likely experienced a slow WiFi connection at one point or another, especially at a hotel, where you might get free WiFi, but it’s probably not that great in the first place unless it’s a really nice hotel where they actually care about their guests enough to provide at least half-decent WiFi.

A slow WiFi connection is pretty discouraging, but perhaps the worst part is that you can’t do anything to fix it. You can’t reboot the router or anything, so what do you do?

You’re not completely out of luck, as there are some things you can do to deal with a slow WiFi connection. Here are a handful of things you can do to hopefully improve a disappointing situation.

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Restart Your Computer

It might not work, but it also might work. Wireless networking and networking in general is pretty much black magic. No one really knows how it works — it just works, and when it doesn’t work, you can the simplest of things to get it working again.

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Restarting your computer is one of the first things you should do to fix any issue, especially if your WiFi connection is acting up. Like I said, it may or may not work, but it’s possible that a reboot can be all it takes to get the WiFi to start properly working again.

This will really only work if the problem is on your end. If the WiFi is just slow in general, restarting probably won’t help, but if you discover that your connection is slow, it’s always a good idea to restart in order to rule out anything on your end.

Make Sure Cloud Services Aren’t Syncing

One reason that your WiFi may be slow is because Dropbox, Google Drive or some other cloud service is syncing files in the background. This happens when you add files to Dropbox (from your phone, for instance) and thenĀ open up your laptop. The Dropbox app will automatically begin syncing those added files.

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This can use up your bandwidth and make general web browsing slow. Usually the Dropbox icon in the system tray on Windows or up in the menu bar on Mac will have a circular arrow icon saying that it’s syncing files.

Either wait until it’s done syncing or close the apps to prevent them from taking up bandwidth. From there, try your internet connection again to see if it’s still slow. If so, move on to these next fixes.

Use Ethernet

If you’re in a hotel, there’s a chance that your room has an ethernet hook-up, for which you can easily use that instead of WiFi, which will significantly improve your internet connection.

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Ethernet is essentially just the wired version of WiFi. Instead of getting your internet wirelessly, you get it by plugging in a special cable that looks similar to a telephone plug. It’s much more reliable than a WiFi connection.

However, not all hotels (or wherever you’re at) will have ethernet hook-ups, so this fix won’t work for everyone, but if you have the chance to connect to the internet via an ethernet cable, take it without hesitation.

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Go to the Lobby

If you’re in your hotel room and the WiFi is not cooperating, you actually might have better luck in the lobby.

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As weird as it may seem, it’s more common to get a better signal down in the lobby rather than in your room because hotels usually make it a priority to deliver better WiFi service to their lobby, andĀ some hotels only have WiFi in the lobby anyway.

While you’re down there, it also might be a good idea to try the computers in the business center, which is basically a fancy way of calling the small room that has a couple of crappy computers and a printer. These computers are most likely connected to ethernet, so the internet connection is probably faster than what you could get on your own laptop.

Go to a Coffee Shop Nearby

Perhaps a last-ditch effort would be to find a place nearby in order to get a better WiFi connection. Usually you can find that pretty easily in a bigger city.

Most coffee shops, fast food restaurants, and libraries will have decent WiFi connections with speeds that might be much better than what you were getting before. These connections are probably much less congested than a hotel, where a lot of people are connected to the network at once.