Why does the Internet lag?

Restricted to our homes for months now, many of us have been putting up with the persistent annoyance of a terrible Internet connection. Sounds familiar!

The Internet is an informal term for the worldwide communication network of computers. The Internet is used to send information quickly between computers around the world. It has millions of smaller domestic, academic, business, and government networks and websites, which together carry many different kinds of information (facts and details) and services.

Connectivity drops, lagged content streaming and downloads, and slow speeds are all common problems with home Internet services and it may not be the fault of your Internet Service Provider (ISP). So much traffic and stress on Internet networks have slowed the speed of downloading web pages and apps. 

If you are suffering from slow Internet at home, these may be the reasons why and how you can improve your connection.

Modem and wireless router: In the same way that a computer sometimes needs a refresh, routers and modems sometimes do, too. To solve this, try unplugging your router, leaving it off for 10 seconds or so, and restarting. Sometimes, the simplest explanation is the right one.
If you are using traditional hardware, such as a default router provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), you need to keep in mind that the further away you are, the higher the risk of connection problems, slow speeds, and dropouts. A simple solution is to move your router closer to the place where you are using the Internet or invest in a Wi-Fi extender to boost signal strength. 

A slow VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) is software that adds a layer of encryption to connections made between your device and servers, as well as masks your Internet Protocol (IP) address. 
You can either subscribe to a VPN as a paying customer or opt for a free service. Paid options are usually faster but can still slow down your Internet as you are using a relay for traffic and if the VPN service is being used at peak times, there may also be congestion which slows your Internet. 
A quick fix is often to try a different location option offered by your VPN. For example, London users set to a New York server could try using a different server located in the UK. Not all VPNs, either, are created equal and there can be substantial differences between the speeds on offer. 

Malware: Another reason your Internet may be slow which has nothing to do with your ISP is malware. Kids can click on pop-ups appearing in the web browser which results in the computer being infected with malware. It may be that the program is deteriorating the overall performance by taking up memory reserves. 
To avoid this problem, parents can advise their kids to run an antivirus scan just to make sure that their system is not infected with malware.

Check your background usage: Some mobile apps and PC programs with heavy resource demands or streaming requirements may take up bandwidth that you otherwise need without you realising it. While modern computers are sufficiently powerful in most situations, devices can slow down if too many applications run simultaneously. 
Often kids have multiple tabs open which cause the Internet to slow down. Advise your kids to shut down any software that they don’t need to be active.

Latency: Latency is a delay, measured in milliseconds (ms). It’s the time it takes for information to move from one end of the pipe to the other. It’s also called the ping rate. High network latency can dramatically increase webpage load times, interrupt video and audio streams, and render an application unusable. 
To avoid latency issues, use a wired connection instead of wireless. Kids who are often involved in online gaming often prefer to run their devices over wired Ethernet (traditional technology for connecting devices in a wired local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN)) instead of Wi-Fi because Ethernet supports lower latencies. While the savings are typically only a few milliseconds in practice, wired connections also avoid the risk of interference that can result in significant lag.

The impact of lag depends on what you are doing on the network and to some degree, the level of network performance that you have grown accustomed to. It is important for parents to talk to their children about these issues which causes the Internet to lag.

Look out for warning signs, understand the risks, and take an active interest in your kids’ daily browsing of the Internet.

“I use Google to check if I have Internet connection more than I use Google to Google.” – Bill Clinton

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