Several reasons can contribute to a slow download speed on your PC, from network congestion to hardware limitations. And this can be a major source of frustration, especially when downloading an important file, streaming a high-definition movie, or eagerly awaiting the latest software update on your PC. By understanding the underlying issues, you can optimize your PC’s download speed and regain a seamless online experience.
Here are key reasons why your PC’s download speed is slow and how to quickly fix the issues. But before that, here is something you need to understand;
Difference Between Download Speed and Internet Speed
So, what’s the difference between download speed on your device and internet speed? Well, the two terms are often used interchangeably but refer to different aspects of your online experience. Here are the key differences:
1. Download Speed
A download speed is the rate at which data is transmitted from the internet to your PC. The download speed is measured in megabytes per second (MBps), KBps (Kilobyte per Second), or GBps (Gigabyte per second).
The download speed is determined by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and your Internet plan/package. Other factors that affect your download speed include;
- Your type of internet connection-fiber, cable, DSL, cellular, or satellite
- The quality of your device- PC, router, or modem
- Demand on the network at any given time- the number of people using the internet at a go.
2. Internet Speed
Like the name suggests, internet speed refers to the rate at which you can download and upload data to the internet. This speed is in Megabits per second (Mbps with a lowercase “b”), Kbps (Kilobit per Second), or Gbps (Gigabit per Second).
Internet speed encompasses both download speed and uploads speed. Since internet speed represents your internet connection’s overall capacity or bandwidth, it will affect your overall browsing experience.
The internet speed is also referred to as Connection speed or Internet Bandwidth.
So, what is a good internet and download speed?
Determining a “good” internet and download speed depends on your needs. Different activities require varying levels of internet speed. On average, a good internet speed should have at least a 3 Mbps upload speed and a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps. That being said, let’s get back to answer why your PC download speed is slow.
Why is My Download Speed So Slow on PC?
Your PC is taking ages to download because of two primary issues:
a). Network-related issues
b). Computer-related issues
1. Network-Related Issues
Network problems will negatively impact your computer’s download speed. Some network issues are easy to fix, while others are beyond you. Let’s begin with the things you can change;
i. Multiple Files Downloads
Downloading multiple files simultaneously can slow down your PC’s download speed regardless of whether you are downloading them from the same site. And this is because multiple downloads at a go will take more resources:
- Network resources
- Processor resources
- Motherboard transmission lane resources
If you’re downloading several files simultaneously and witness slow download speeds, here are some quick fixes that you can undertake to get things working smoothly again;
- Prioritize the most critical or time-sensitive downloads.
- Pause or cancel non-urgent downloads to allocate more resources to urgently needed files.
- Use a download accelerator/manager. Download accelerators/managers can split files into multiple parts and download them simultaneously faster.
The above tips are super-helpful if your PC is old or slow.
Latency is the delay in communication between your computer and the download servers. It is essentially, the time it takes for each of the components in the transmission chain established between your computer and the download server. That also includes devices in the middle of the chain. You can reduce network latency by:
- Moving closer to your router (for wireless connections) or using a wired connection
- Selecting your preferred download server
- Adjust your DNS settings
If even after tweaking all the above, the download speed doesn’t seem to improve, then it’s possible that the slow download speed has little to do with latency. You might want to talk to your ISP, just in case the issue is on their end.
iii. Network Congestion
Every device on your network has a unique IP address that allows it to connect to the internet. Depending on how your network is set, you might have a limited number of IP addresses. If your connected devices hit the limit, they will be vying for a slot of the addresses. If this is the case, your PC’s download speed will halt and resume when it reconnects after obtaining an IP address. That will result in slow PC download speeds due to network congestion.
To resolve the network congestion issue;
- Shut down network-connected devices not in use to free up IP addresses.
- Adjust DHCP settings. DHCP allocates IP addresses to internet-accessing devices on your network. Set your DHCP lease time to be short. Shorter lease times will help release IP addresses more quickly, allowing other devices to connect without waiting for expired leases.
- Increase IP address pool: If you consistently encounter an IP address shortage, expand the IP address pool on your network.
iv. Website Traffic
Sometimes the website you’re downloading files from might experience a surge in visitors, making it slow to transmit data and thus lowering download speeds. This occurs during special events such as movie releases or highly anticipated software launches.
While you cannot directly fix the website’s traffic issue, you can:
- If possible, download during off-peak hours, either late at night or at dawn.
- Check out alternative download sources.
- Be patient and persistent in trying to download
v. Internet throughput
This has to do with the amount of data allotted to and which is successfully moved between the resource server and your PC. Often, network throughput is measured in bits per second (bps) e.g. Megabits per second (Mbps) or Gigabits per second (Gbps). That said, your network’s throughput will depend on among other factors, the package option you are on. It could be a 1 or 2 Gbps package in which case, you can only do so much. For instance, on a 2 Gbps package, you will be able to connect just a couple of home devices. However, if your usage gets intensive like is the case when you stream videos, games, etc. the network resource allocation will be strained thus leading to slow connectivity.
The remedy is a case of strained internet throughput is to consider removing some devices from the network. Alternatively, you can simply limit the amount of resources used by devices on the network. That way, more resources will be made available for other critical operations such as content downloads on your PC.
2. Computer-Related Issues
Besides network issues, various computer-related factors can contribute to slow download speeds on your PC. They include:
i. Insufficient Hardware Space
Hard disk drives (HDDs) and Solid-state drives (SSDs) require adequate free space to function efficiently. If your storage drives are nearly full, it can slow down your PC’s download speeds. To address this issue:
- Check available storage: Open the disk management tool on your computer to check the available storage space. If the storage is nearly full, free up some space by deleting unnecessary files, uninstalling unused programs, or moving files to external storage devices.
- Disk Cleanup: Remove temporary files, system files, and other unnecessary data that may take up space on your hard drives.
ii. Malware or Viruses
Malware or viruses can consume system resources, affect network connectivity, and slow down your computer’s download speeds. Do a thorough scan with reliable antimalware software to clean up your PC. If you are running a windows PC, Windows Defender is one antivirus tool that saves your PC from potential malware and virus attacks. However, some types of malware or viruses may escape its detection. In such instances, you might want to consider a premium alternative, and there are plenty of them out there. Be sure to do you research to know which one suits your particular case.
iii. Outdated Operating System.
Outdated operating systems can impact your PC’s download speeds. Try updating your OS and drivers with the latest updates and recheck the download speed. Point is, if you are using Windows, Linux, or any other operating system, it’s recommended to always keep them up to date.
iv. Background Processes and Applications
Running resource-demanding applications or numerous background processes can consume system resources and impact download speeds. Close unnecessary programs and processes while downloading to ensure optimal performance.
Your PC download speed can be slow because of network and hardware issues. Network issues that can slow your PC download speed include latency, congestion, downloading multiple files, and website traffic. At the same time, hardware problems such as insufficient hardware space, attacks by malware and viruses, or may be outdated operating systems and drivers. Try fixing these issues as outlines above. However, if the issue persists, consider talking to an IT specialist to figure out what other solutions are best for you.