Does your ISP raise your speeds? How to check

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Websites seem sluggish and downloads take forever. It’s frustrating – especially when you pay for high speed internet.

First, make sure it’s not just you. When I’m not sure if slow speeds or timeouts are part of a larger issue, I press Down Detector to see if others report the same issue. Tap or click for a direct link and a few other tricks if a site does not load.

If that’s not the problem, it could be a moocher. Yes, your neighbors or someone else can pull away from your connection. Tap or click here to check what’s connected to your network.

Person using computer.

Person using computer.
(iStock)

There may be another sinner you may not have considered. Your ISP may limit your speed. Here’s a smart way to check out what’s going on behind the scenes. All you need is a VPN.

First things first: Finding the right VPN

A VPN creates a secure bridge between your device (s) and the Internet and encrypts your online traffic from all forms of interference, snooping and censorship.

Usually a free VPN will sell your data and collect everything – and I mean everything – as you do when you use it. And a free VPN will slow down your connection while collecting all your data. It’s free for a reason. You pay with your data, and boom, it starts. You get more spam, targeted ads and maybe even more robocalls.

You want a VPN that does not harvest and sell your information and works across multiple devices. Most of all, it should be easy to use. I use and recommend ExpressVPN, a sponsor of my national radio program.

Is your ISP blocking you?

Before turning on your VPN, check your internet speed. You can search on Google for “speed tests in your browser, but I use Speedtest.net.

  • Go to Speedtest.net and click “Go” in the middle of the screen. It will automatically detect test servers near your location.
  • For the first test, use the server it selects. Afterwards, you can try other servers around the country if you want.
  • It will quickly tell you the ping, upload and download speed of your connection. Write this down.

Now that you know your internet speed, turn on your VPN. Run Speedtest.net again and compare speeds with and without an active VPN.

In most cases, internet speeds will be a bit slower when connected to a VPN. A VPN hides the IP address that ISPs use to see who is connected. Here’s the clue: If your internet speed is slower without a VPN asset, your ISP will most likely throttle you.

In the photo, a man is using his iPhone and laptop at his desk.

In the photo, a man is using his iPhone and laptop at his desk.
(iStock)

I suggest you do tests when you and your neighbors are not on video calls or streaming. Avoid the morning where everyone holds meetings, or the evening where we all fire up Netflix. Repeat this test several times over a few days to find an average.

If you find that your speeds are much better with a VPN, call your ISP to find out what’s going on. In many cases, they can speed up your connection without even making a house call.

How to make your internet faster if you are not throttled

If your speed test shows faster speeds without VPN, it’s time to start improving your connection.

First, try updating your router’s firmware. You will get additional features and enhancements of the new firmware and your router will receive important security updates.

Usually you have the option to check, review, download and install your router’s new firmware on its administration page. The exact steps depend on the make and model of your router, so check the router manufacturer’s support website for detailed instructions.

Not sure how to access your router’s administrator settings to perform the update? Tap or click here for the easiest way to find your router’s password and IP address.

Close-up of a person using a computer

Close-up of a person using a computer
(iStock)

That’s just the beginning. Tap or click here for 9 more steps to speed up your Wi-Fi. I will show you how to detect interferences, where to place your router and more.

Bonus tip: Stop Facebook tracking, secret camera tricks and why you see ads when you stream

In this podcast, I help three callers who are in difficult situations. You want to protect your son from malicious players. Another wants expensive cameras at cheap prices. I share a few technical tricks you can use to save money and protect your privacy. I also got scooped on a secret Facebook setting that stops tracking.

Check out my “Kim Komando Today” podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you now get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Command.”

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio program and press or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or click or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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Learn about all the latest technology at The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim accepts calls and advises on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacking. Visit her website at Komando.com for her daily tips, free newsletters and more.

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