If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why your internet connection is slow on your computer but seems perfectly fine on your phone, you’re not alone. This issue can be quite puzzling, especially when both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. In this article, we’ll explore the multiple reasons that could be causing this discrepancy, and we’ll offer solutions to get your computer back up to speed. From hardware limitations to software issues, we’ll examine every angle to help you solve this frustrating problem.
Check for Hardware Limitations
One of the first aspects to consider is the hardware capabilities of your computer and phone. Older computers might not have the hardware necessary to handle high-speed internet, whereas modern smartphones are generally designed to accommodate fast network connections.
Your computer’s network card might be outdated or not functioning correctly. A network card built a decade ago won’t be able to match the speeds of the latest Wi-Fi protocols. This is often overlooked but can make a significant difference in your internet speed.
Solution: Consider updating your network card drivers, or if your computer is particularly old, you might want to install a new network card that supports the latest Wi-Fi standards like Wi-Fi 6.
If you’re using an Ethernet connection, the quality and category of your Ethernet cable can also impact speed.
Solution: Make sure you’re using at least a Cat 5e Ethernet cable for optimal performance. If you’re still experiencing issues, try replacing the cable to see if it solves the problem.
Linked issue: Ethernet Internet Speed Capped at 100 Mbps (Fix)
Software Conflicts and Background Activity
Software running on your computer can significantly affect your internet speed. Unlike smartphones, which have more streamlined operating systems, PCs can run a wide range of software that may use up bandwidth without your direct knowledge.
Programs running in the background can consume a surprising amount of bandwidth. Automatic updates, cloud syncing services, or even malware could be using up your internet speed.
Solution: Open your computer’s task manager to check for any background applications that are using your network. On Windows, you can do this by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc and then clicking on the “Network” column to sort by network usage.
On macOS, open the “Activity Monitor” and go to the “Network” tab to see a list of processes and their network usage. End tasks that are unnecessarily using up your bandwidth.
Browser Extensions and Add-ons
Certain browser extensions can also slow down your internet experience by adding extra data to web pages or running background processes.
Solution: Consider disabling browser extensions to see if this improves your speed. You can usually do this by going to your browser’s “Extensions” or “Add-ons” settings and disabling them one by one to identify any culprits.
Wi-Fi Interference and Placement
When considering Wi-Fi speed discrepancies between your phone and PC, the physical positioning of the devices and the router can make a difference. Here’s how:
Distance and Obstacles
Wi-Fi signals degrade over distance and can be obstructed by walls and other physical barriers. Your phone might be experiencing better speeds simply because it’s often closer to the router.
Solution: Try moving your computer closer to the Wi-Fi router or removing any physical barriers between them. Alternatively, you could invest in a Wi-Fi extender to increase the range of your network.
Related resource: Router to Modem/PC Auto-Negotiation at 100Mbps (not 1Gbps)
Interference from Other Devices
Other electronic devices in your home, like microwaves and cordless phones, can interfere with Wi-Fi signals. The effect is generally less noticeable on phones due to better optimization and mobility, but it can still slow down your computer’s internet connection.
Solution: Identify any potential sources of interference and move them away from the Wi-Fi router and your computer, or switch them off when not in use.
Network Configuration and Settings
Improperly configured settings on your PC can also lead to slow internet speeds. These settings may differ from those on your phone, causing a discrepancy in internet performance.
Your computer might be using a slower Domain Name System (DNS) server, which translates website names into IP addresses. This could slow down your browsing experience.
Solution: Change your DNS settings to a faster server like Google’s (126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52) or Cloudflare’s (184.108.40.206). You can usually do this by navigating to your “Network and Sharing Center” on Windows, or “System Preferences” > “Network” on macOS, then modifying the DNS servers for your connection.
Incorrectly Set MTU
The Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) size can affect the speed of data transmission over the network. If set too low or too high, it can result in inefficient data packets and slow speeds.
Solution: Adjust your MTU settings through your computer’s network settings or your router’s admin panel. The optimal MTU size can vary, but it’s commonly set at 1500 bytes for many connections. You may need to experiment to find the best setting for your network.
Operating System and Driver Updates
Outdated operating systems or network drivers can introduce inefficiencies or incompatibilities that slow down your internet speed on your PC, but not on your phone, which usually stays updated automatically.
Outdated Operating System
An outdated OS may not be optimized for newer network technologies, resulting in slower speeds.
Solution: Regularly update your operating system to the latest version available. For Windows, go to “Settings” > “Update & Security” to check for updates. On macOS, navigate to “System Preferences” > “Software Update”.
Outdated or Incompatible Drivers
Old or incompatible network drivers can cause slow internet speeds or even connectivity issues.
Solution: Make sure that your network adapter drivers are up to date. You can usually find the latest drivers on the manufacturer’s website, or you can update them through the Device Manager on Windows. On macOS, software updates usually include any necessary driver updates as well.
Suggested read: How to Update Realtek Drivers in Windows 11
Summary and Final Thoughts
The issue of slower internet on your computer compared to your phone can be due to a variety of factors, ranging from hardware limitations to software conflicts, and from network settings to physical placement of devices. By methodically troubleshooting each area, you can pinpoint the reason for the speed discrepancy and take appropriate measures to resolve it.
Modernizing hardware, updating software, optimizing network settings, and considering the physical aspects of your Wi-Fi network are all effective approaches to equaling or even surpassing the internet speeds on your phone. Technology is ever-evolving, so it pays to stay updated and periodically review your settings to ensure optimal performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
While the main sections of this article have covered the most common reasons for internet speed discrepancies between PCs and phones, you may still have some questions. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions that might offer further insights.
Why is my internet slow only on my desktop?
If the issue is exclusive to your desktop computer, it could be due to an outdated network card, a damaged Ethernet cable if you’re not using Wi-Fi, or perhaps even an outdated operating system. Make sure to run through the hardware and software checks outlined in this article.
Is it possible that my router is prioritizing my phone over my computer?
Some modern routers have Quality of Service (QoS) settings that can prioritize traffic for specific devices. This could potentially result in slower speeds for other devices on the network. Log into your router’s admin settings and look for QoS options. If you find that your phone is prioritized, you can change the settings to either prioritize your computer or treat all devices equally.
Can a VPN slow down my computer’s internet speed?
Yes, VPNs can slow down your internet speed due to the encryption and routing process they use. If you’re experiencing significantly slower speeds on your computer, disabling your VPN might improve your connection. If you require a VPN for security reasons, consider switching to a VPN service known for fast speeds, or only enable the VPN when absolutely necessary.
Why is my laptop slow but my phone is fast when using public Wi-Fi?
Public Wi-Fi networks are generally less secure and more crowded, which can result in slower speeds. However, laptops often have more background processes running than phones do, which can further slow down your connection. Limit the number of applications and processes running on your laptop while connected to public Wi-Fi to conserve bandwidth.