What Causes Slow Internet Service?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Regardless of the type of service that is used to connect with the Internet, there are several factors that can bring even the most robust connection to a crawl. Some of the most common include malware like viruses, Trojans, spyware, and adware, and technical issues.

Slow Internet service can sometimes result from viral attacks, spyware and adware.
Slow Internet service can sometimes result from viral attacks, spyware and adware.

Perhaps the most common situations that can result in slow Internet service is the present of a virus on your hard drive. Computer viruses can be transmitted in a variety of ways, most commonly through an attachment to an email. The virus will integrate itself into key programs on the hard drive and silently use up a great deal of resources. By diverting some of the resources to running the virus, an Internet service slow down is inevitable. Fortunately, installing virus protection and removal software will help to remove these programs from the hard drive, as well as prevent new ones from infecting the system. Antivirus software should be updated regularly.

Problems with a modem can cause slow Internet service.
Problems with a modem can cause slow Internet service.

Along with viruses, there is a wide range of programs created to grab control of software on the hard drive and use it without the knowledge of the system owner. Programs of this type are often referred to as Trojans, since they can creep in before they are ever detected. Along with worm viruses, Trojans use up resources and create an Internet slow down that will be noticeable. They are typically acquired by opening email attachments, allowing the program to grab the address book and begin to send out more infected attachments to every email address on the hard drive. Antivirus software updates usually identify new Trojans and viruses, and can remove them from the system, provided that the malware is not configured to shut down the system if removal is attempted.

Router problems can slow down Internet service.
Router problems can slow down Internet service.

Spyware and adware are relatively innocuous programs that silently download when web sites are visited and are used to track the Internet activity of the user. The collected data is normally used in developing marketing campaigns and creating email texts. Unfortunately, these programs also use up resources that can slow the system down a great deal. Removing the programs will often help speed up Internet service.

Removing potential viruses can help speed up Internet service.
Removing potential viruses can help speed up Internet service.

Not all reasons for slow Internet service are due to clandestine programs and viruses infecting the hard drive. In some cases, the Internet service provider (ISP) is the origin of the slow down. Routers and servers used to provide the service may be overloaded or experience a technical issue that temporarily slows down the speeds provided by the Internet Service Provider. This is true for high-speed solutions as well as for dialup service providers.

At other times, slowness may be caused by the local phone connection. Depending on the number of connections that the local phone company multiplexes on the wires that make up the system, there may simply not be many resources available to establish the connection. This is often the case in rural areas, where there are limited options when it comes to Internet connectivity.

One other reason for a slow loading of a web site will have nothing to do with the speed of the connection or the programs running on the hard drive. If the current level of traffic volume to the site is very high, and the server hosting the site cannot handle the traffic, it can seem like the Internet as a whole is running slowly. This is not really a case of a slow Internet connection, however, but an overwhelmed server. Generally, if the user will simply back off and visit the site at a later time, the site will load much faster on the follow up attempt.

In some cases, the Internet service provider's routers and servers become overloaded, leading to slow Internet connections.
In some cases, the Internet service provider's routers and servers become overloaded, leading to slow Internet connections.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including EasyTechJunkie, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


As someone that used to work in the industry I can tell you that 60 percent of the time your speed issues will be related to an oversold node, 20 percent due to a virus or other malware and the other 20 percent to issues between your roadside connection and your computer.

IPS's intentionally oversell nodes to save money knowing that most people are too timid to complain and not knowledgeable enough to know when the ISP is flat out lying to the customer when they do complain.


I have trouble detecting the reason for slow internet. The speed is unstable and drops (really low) every two to three days. My service provider (MWeb) has re-authorized my account numerous times and claims that everything on their side is in order. I have also done numerous port resets on my line (form telkom) but problem keeps appearing. Telkom has been out previously to check the lines and says everything is in order. I don't know where to start looking for the problem next.

Telkom: 2Mbps line

MWeb: 1Mbps Uncapped ADSL account

My computer works fine on other lines (at work) so the problem is not there.

We stay on a plot, so there are no other close-by services interfering with wi-fi. (wi-fi and direct connection over ethernet is slow)

We have only one telephone line, connected to a Billion 810VTGX and a second router (NETGEAR DGN2200 connected with ethernet cable) acting as a signal enhancer.

We experience no problems on the telephone as we are talking.

We have an alarm connected to the telephone line as well, but almost never turn it on.

Please help! Any suggestions will be appreciated.


My internet is so slow, that it's beyond a joke. I tested the speed and the down load speed is 0.5MB and the upload speed is 0.3MB. So I phoned AOL, and they were less than helpful. I tried to cancel, but they said I'm on a contract with them, so I can't cancel. I was offered a half price package last year and apparently this is why I have a contract. I said I didn't know I was agreeing to a contract and they said write to the billing department.

I asked the customer services operator to email me the address, but she said they couldn't do that. I really struggled to understand the address she gave me over the phone and then she said I'd have to send a check for £10.00.

Paying for a service that is virtually useless and having to pay ten pounds so that they can listen to the recording of the conversation of the half price package they offered me last year, which doesn't finish according to them until next June is outrageous. I'm very annoyed that I have to pay for something that is far from satisfactory. Bit of a moan, I know.


My internet used to be pretty good, now I can't load anything. Youtube won't load on my Dells, but does just fine on my Mac. Sometimes my download speed is around 100Kpbs and other times its down to .1 Kbps.

The main desktop in the house never gets turned off, and the modem (with the four lights on it?) is really warm all the time.

I've been dealing with it for about two years, but now it's really bad. I was wondering if it's a virus, or maybe i need to replace the modem. Also, my paid internet speed is 1.5mbps, in case the matters.


Great article! I was suffering from slow Internet for months before figuring out it was being caused by my neighbor's wireless signal interfering with my own. I found some steps on how to fix the issue online. By logging into the router and changing the channel, it was good as new and super fast! Thanks for the article.


if you've been downloading movies or other things then you may not have enough memory capacity and that will cause your computer to slow up. Well if it's not a virus.


I live in Palmdale, CA and have Time Warner for everything. Mid Sept. all of a sudden my internet connection became unreasonably slow. Even simple web pages would only scroll in about 3/4 of the way, never finishing the download.

Checked my speed via one of many speed test sites, and verified I'm running at only 0.72 mbps for downloads, and only 0.22 mbps for uploads-completely unacceptable. Called TW-They did all the checking, no problem with my Airport. I was told there's a problem somewhere with TW's modem losing packets. The rep was extremely concerned and wanted to schedule a service guy to come out to check it.

I have a MAC so don't bother telling me it's a virus because Mac computers do not get them. I agree with the guy in Hollywood: this happened very very suddenly, and continues up until this day. I will hopefully get modem replaced soon. Time Warner is the absolute worst! Be forewarned: TW neglects to tell you when you sign up that if anything goes wrong with your cable, well then everything goes wrong. My phone has been messed up over this thing too.

Whenever the cable goes out (which is very frequently) the phone goes dead-no 911 service or anything! I hate TW!


The internet is very slow for a few days. I ran two different antivirus/antispyware programs - nothing came up. I did a trace route twice, checked the browser and firewall settings, rebooted at least five times, called Time Warner cable three times, updated my browser software, cleared the history, yadda yadda yadda, and page loads are still taking four or five seconds for a simple news site.

I am wondering if it's a webwide problem or if I have a virus that the programs don't detect. I no longer get logged into some sites automatically. They seem not to recognize my computer.


We have satellite internet and use a wireless connection to connect 3-4 computers throughout the house. One roommate uses AOL and many chat programs at once and it is usually during this time that Internet speed will decrease. Will having that many chat programs running at once decrease bandwidth speed significantly?


I've been downloading movies considerably for the past few days at 400-500 KB/s and all was fine until yesterday. i started off a a new movie and i was downloading at 8KB/s. i called my ISP(etisalat) and tell them about the problem, and they tell me that 4mb internet is just not possible in my area, whereas that's what i have been paying for for the past two years. So what am i to do about this?


If your Internet is slow for days and you still have a slow connection, and you think your computer is clean, you might want to check your provider to see if your provisioned speed is within what you pay for. there are times that you may not on be on your provisioned speed.


My internet used to be really fast but has recently started running really slowly. I know its not my computer because I just bought a new one and scan it for viruses every day, but I recently downloaded a lot of stuff (like 5gb of stuff in a small time span) so I'm wondering ifs that's the reason my internet is slow now.

I have unlimited internet access so I know I haven't used up my monthly allowance, and I'm wondering when it will go back to normal because its been around four days now and still no change in speed.


I believe it is the internet itself that is slow in many parts of the country for the last two days. I'm in California using Comcast and it has been very irritating to have to reload every page a few times.


I have time warner cable in North Hollywood. In the past two days the internet has become suddenly slow. in a fashion where most websites will take *way* too long to load, and major ones like myspace end up presenting themselves in text only fashion. It's not my computer -- I have a new mac -- it's the provider. I had gone to their chat forum and ironically/suspiciously during the chat, my connection sped up back to normal, but this lasted no more than a few minutes after I ended the tech chat. This issue frustrated me so bad I broke my own chair. Its equally slow whether I use the wifi or plug it in to the modem via ethernet. Why?


hey, check out your memo space. it seems that a lot of resources is being used up by some malware. is your antivirus updated? the other case would be that your computer has used up too much space. You might not have enough RAM, which would make it slow, and have you emptied your history? Check out and post if it works


hey nice people, i just have a problem in entering websites, like i'm entering youtube but videos won't open. music sites i'm entering also won't open.

could it be a virus? every couple of minutes a recent attempt has been blocked. i'm receiving this message. can anyone help me with that? my antivirus didn't pick up anything, and i have ran virus scan too. nothing seemed to help. help plz.


Probably not a virus if your virus protection didn't pick it up. How's your memory capacity? It could be the saved movie is eating up a lot of your resources and slowing down everything.

Check your RAM and see if it is kind of low. If so, try storing the movie on a CDR if it will fit or maybe use an external hard drive that you can connect to your computer when you want.


hey guys, i was recently downloading a movie and everything was going fine. Then after a day or two my internet started running very slowly. Because my 2 laptops are also connected to this same internet via bluetooth, there internet is also running very slowly.

I have run virus scans but nothing has come up. Could there still be a virus or could it be something else?

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