In the months of the coronavirus crisis, many of us depend on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime to make them more livable than ever. This makes it all the more difficult when a show goes haywire and stops at the climax due to poor Wi-Fi. Mass groaning, Sansa held as a loading stall at 99%, children crying for Elsa or Moana to come back: all of these can be avoided if the internet just stagnates. But alas, stagnant Internet is rarely our reality, and in many areas, the monopoly or monopoly of Spectrum, AT&T, or other local providers only makes it difficult to switch companies.
What’s worse, with last year’s Supreme Court ruling to hear an appeal on Net Neutrality, ISPs can still throttle your internet legally if you want them streaming more YouTube or Hulu Can limit their broadband and provide a slow connection to the websites they own. Their competitor. Fortunately, some of these problems are solved: virtual private networks. Basically, ISPs need to look at your IP address to slow down your Internet, and a good VPN will shield that identity (although it comes with some downside, which I discuss below). Here’s how a VPN is found and is used to test whether your ISP is artificially slowing down your Internet.
Run through common troubleshooting methods
So your Wi-Fi is slow and you feel that your service provider is ending your connection. Before you jump to those conclusions, it is important to walk through the general troubleshooting list: check that your router is centrally located in your home, recycle its antennas, check your network security, and so on. If you want to read more ways to optimize your Wi-Fi, check out our suggestions.
If you go through the laundry list and your Wi-Fi is still cheating, move on to the next step.
Test your internet health
Once you make sure that there is no simple explanation of your Wi-Fi, you can deeply measure the health of your Internet in many ways. I would suggest starting a simple test through M-Lab. This will check the speed of your connection, essentially knowing if your ISP is delivering consistent performance, regardless of the content you are accessing. This measurement is not accurate, but it is a good start.
Find a trusted VPN
If you have done a basic first test on your Internet health, and you still feel that there may be something wrong with your ISP, then start researching VPNs. There are dozens of reasons to achieve one, and many factors have to be taken into consideration when searching for the best virtual private network, such as security, price, and server locations. Fortunately, we have done that for you. See our suggestions here:
CNET selected for best VPN
Compare your speed with a VPN.
Next, test your internet speed like Fast.com or Speedtest.net. When your VPN is active, compare the results with the same results. The use of any VPN should significantly cut your speed, so VPN-active speeds may show a discrepancy with particularly slow speeds compared to VPN-idle speeds. But a VPN also hides the IP address that providers use to identify you, so if your speed test is faster than a VPN without a VPN, it may mean that your ISP is on your side for throttling. Is targeting IP addresses.
Fix your internet
Okay, that’s the hard part. Even if you know that your provider is throttling your internet, you really can’t do that. Many people in the US live in areas with ISP monopolies or monopolies, so you won’t be able to find a better provider. But here are some useful responses:
If you have options, use the best provider in your area. The Measurement Lab provides a good resource for finding information specific to your area, and which can guide you to a more reliable ISP.
Use your VPN to maintain a more sustained speed. A VPN may not resolve a bad connection or other reasons behind your slow service, but it can reduce throttling from unscrupulous ISPs.
Call your provider and threaten to switch providers if they do not turn off your Internet. This may sound outdated, and I cannot guarantee permanent results, but providers have responded positively to such tactics when I have not used them.
Corrections, February 10: This article first rebutted last year’s Net Neutrality verdict, rather than the DC circuit court that decided the case. The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.