Tips on How to Improve a Slow DSL Connection

by Aeyne Schriber on January 31, 2010 in DSL

Updated: July 9, 2014

It is very easy to place the blame on your Internet Service Provider when the Internet speed provided by your DSL connection slows down. However, this type of problem sometimes reaches farther than your ISP service.

A broadband Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is one of the more common ways to connect to the Internet due to its versatility and wider availability. It is also one of the preferred ways to connect to the Internet as the result of new technologies and applications which demand higher bandwidth and data speeds in order to function properly. These are new technologies such as Smart TVs that are equipped with Internet capability, gaming devices, media boxes such as the Roku, Boxee, and others, as well as the increased use of VoIP applications like Skype and music streaming services such as Pandora.

Staying connected to the Internet at all times has become a way of life for most of us. So, what do you do when your DSL connection does not seem to be performing up to your expectations?

Well, if you currently have a DSL broadband connection from your phone company or cable provider and are experiencing slow performance, here are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem.

Slow DSL Connection Tips

A DSL connection that has poor speed performance can be the result of a lot of different factors and influences which may go beyond problems with your DSL service provider. Here we will focus on the most common problems that can cause a DSL connection to run slowly and provide you with a few troubleshooting tips.

Viruses or Malware

Before you spend time performing a series of tests, find out if your computer has been recently infected with a virus or malware. You can do this by running a scan with your antivirus program and deploying a malware removal program such as Superantispyware. In some cases, it is a good idea to run a second malware program such as Malwarebytes to double check for additional malware.

Malware infections are created by many different types of criminals that have extensive knowledge in computer programming. This means that for each type of malware program created, there is a different definition for that program. The definitions are entered into a database in which the anti-malware application uses as a reference for identifying specific malware infections. Each anti-malware program has a slightly different way of accessing definition databases. For this reason, what one anti-malware program may identify, the other may miss on an initial scan.

Regardless if you are tech savvy or not, following the scan it is also a good idea to check your PC’s registry to make sure it is free of malicious files that can hide within the registry. Even after a virus or malware is removed by your PC protection program, the chances of files that remain hiding in your registry are pretty high, especially with the stealthier types of malware.

Some of the programs are even capable of replicating themselves after removal the next time you boot up your device. The files will run quietly in the background and draw on your PC resources which can significantly slow down your DSL Internet connection.

This is why a trustworthy registry cleaner is an important contributor toward complete malware removal. A good registry cleaner will clean out old, broken, corrupt, and any leftover malicious files, and place your PC back in proper working order.

Do your homework and make sure you are choosing a registry cleaner that is developed by a trustworthy source. There are many fake registry cleaners out there that will do more harm than good. If you are not knowledgeable about your PC’s registry and how registry cleaners work, enlist the help of someone who is.

Ask the DSL Provider to Run a Speed Test

Once you are sure your PC is free of any malware or viruses, contact your DSL provider and ask them to conduct a speed test. This can be accomplished right from your DSL provider’s location to determine whether the problem is on their end or yours. If the problem is on their end, they can take the necessary measures to correct the problem.

On the other hand, if the problem does not appear to be on their end, there are steps you can take on your end of the connection to determine the root of the problem. You can begin by running a speed test online which is outlined in the next paragraph of this article.

Run a Speed Test Online

There are a number of websites online that will allow you to test the speed of your current DSL connection to compare it with other types of DSL connections. This is a good way to learn how close your connection is coming to what your DSL provider promised when you subscribed to their service.

Keep in mind that what the DSL provider advertises is the maximum speed you can achieve with their service. This does not guarantee you will be able to reach the maximum speed, especially during peak hours. However, the speed of your connection should at least be within a reasonable range of the advertised maximum speed.

That said, there are a number of services online that will help you test your DSL connection. Some of the services include Speakeasy Speed Test, XFINITY Speed Test, and AT&T Broadband Internet Speed Test, to name a few. Included is a short video on how this type of service works and how to find the one that is right for your needs.

 

Reset the Router

If your DSL provider did not discover any complications on their end and the online speed test still indicates there is a problem, try disconnecting the router and then resetting the router to the factory default settings. You can do this by turning off the router, unplugging it, waiting a few seconds, and then powering it up again.

Once the router is up and running, press the Reset button on the side of the unit and hold it down for at least 10 seconds. Make sure that the LED light for the power is blinking when you use the Reset button. This ensures that the router is being properly reset.

Keep in mind that when you reset the router, the password will be changed back to the default password which is usually admin or something generic like that. This means you will need to go back into the web interface to reset the password back to the original password you selected.

The following video will provide you with an overview of different methods you can use to reset a router.

Resetting the router will cause it to forget any issues which may have developed over the course of time and are causing a slow DSL connection.

Install a POTS Splitter

POTS stands for Plain Old Telephone Service and is a splitter which is applied to telephone lines to improve the quality of voice and data. When a POTS splitter is applied to the network interface device, its purpose is to separate voice and data signals and route them to the appropriate devices in your home. Although a POTS splitter seems like a necessary part of DSL service, we have found many instances where the POTS splitter is absent, especially with older configurations.

Depending upon the line setup, a POTS splitter typically connects to the area where the DSL line enters your house or in another part of the DSL line configuration. A POTS splitter can be obtained inexpensively at any electronics store offline or any electronics provider online.

Once you install a POTS splitter, place your DSL modem as close as possible to the POTS splitter to assist with speeding up your DSL connection.

Try a Shorter Cable Line

If possible, try using a shorter line where it leads from the cable modem to the telephone jack. Sometimes longer lines will create more interference which will slow down the speed of the DSL connection. This problem is similar to issues that can occur when you use a long cable to connect a printer to your PC. More often than not, the printer will fail to work properly using the longer cable. Once you install a shorter line, go back and test the speed of your DSL connection using one of the methods we described earlier in this article.

Install a DSL Filter

A DSL filter is also commonly referred to as a micro-filter and is a small device that helps to reduce the line interference when a landline telephone shares the same line as your DSL Internet connection. It basically acts as a barrier that prevents telephone signals which are typically low frequency from interfering with a high frequency DSL connection.

Install a DSL filter at the end of each phone line before it is connected to the wall jack. This process is very easy and does not require the help of a qualified service technician. The filter is equipped with a jack on either end. All you have to do is plug one end of the filter into the wall jack and then connect the phone and modem into the jack.

This will help to reduce line interference and speed up the DSL connection. It is also important to mention you should not install a DSL filter if you have a modem and a phone sharing the same wall jack as this will make the situation worse instead of improving it.

If the phone and modem are sharing the same wall jack, it may be possible to improve your DSL connection by locating a jack that is closest to the location where the phone line enters your house. If possible, connect the modem to that jack to help improve DSL connection speed.

If the above method is not possible, connect a dedicated line to the jack that is closest to where the telephone line enters the house and run it to the phone jack that is located the closest to the cable modem. This method is known to help speed up a DSL connection.

If the above method is unsuccessful, it may be necessary to remove the old telephone wiring and replace it with a new line. Although this sounds like a major project, it is actually rather inexpensive and makes a significant difference in the speed of your DSL Internet connection.

Check Hardware and Software

Run a diagnostic tool on your computer hardware and check your software applications for any errors. A lot of times hardware conflicts, failures and software issues can cause your DSL connection to run slowly.

Most of the newer PCs on the market offer an included diagnostics tool that will check for hardware issues or failures. The following video will provide you with an idea of how a hardware diagnostics tool works.

A software diagnostics tool works similar to hardware diagnostics and is not complicated to use. Here is an example of how a software diagnostics tool works.

Keep in mind the above videos are just examples to show you how diagnostics tools work. The types of diagnostics tools will vary according to the brand of your device and the operating system being used.

Reduce Interferences

Observe the devices around your home and how they are situated near the cable modem and your wireless router. If you have any appliances, wireless electronics, furniture, or metal objects within close range, this could potentially cause your DSL connection to slow down.

Install a Wireless Repeater

If you are trying to access the Internet from a location in your home where there are multiple walls or ceilings in between your device and the router, this can cause the DSL connection to run slowly. In this case, it may help to install a wireless repeater in your home.

A wireless repeater is an inexpensive device that can be purchased at any electronics retailer. The device sits in between your router and the device you are using to connect to the Internet and helps to extend the range of the signal in your home, even when there are walls and ceiling obstructing the signal.

These are a few ways you can try to speed up a slow DSL connection. If the connection does not improve and your DSL provider claims to have done all they can, you may want to pursue other options that will help you achieve high speed Internet connectivity.

Some of the options include satellite broadband Internet, 3G or 4G connectivity with your wireless carrier, or a portable Internet connection that is typically used for RVs, to name a few options. You will find more information on this type of Internet connectivity using the search function on this website.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous April 30, 2010 at 1:13 am

Very nice post to read and very informative too. Yes, slow in DSL connection may be due to certain factors like virus found in the system. The hardware are not compatible with the DSL connection and many more. So, in order to protect the system for virus and worms, we need to update the antivirus daily and do system scan at a particular time for daily. Moreover, the post also contain many ideas and tips too. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Shirley Wojcik June 8, 2011 at 1:55 am

There used to be a speed test that I could run myself. What happened to that ? It was a big dial and we could check the speed of our DSL . Please let me know how I can find that again.
Thank you
Shirley

admin June 8, 2011 at 2:02 am

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