Why Is My Ethernet Slow: Understanding Main Causes Behind the Issue

Our complete guide answers the question of why is my ethernet slow based on key criteria and thorough tests. Some of the most common reasons for a slow ethernet include bad ethernet cables, broken network adapters, and network cards.

Why Is My Ethernet Slow

Fortunately, there are plenty of methods you can use to improve the ethernet speed issues, and we are here to explain them all. By the time you are done reading this article, you will know how to check network speed and fix any unnecessary issues and bugs.

Why Is My Ethernet Slow Problem Happening?

A slow ethernet connection usually happens due to several reasons, but the most important one is the lack of proper ethernet ports. Other possible reasons are operating system problems; the router faces software misconfigurations, hardware issues and NIC limitations, broken cables from and to the router, VPN issues, and much more.  

– Ethernet May Not Be as Slow as It Seems

Before we move forward to fixing the ethernet and internet speeds, it is time to learn more about all the possible reasons, as there are numerous causes that can make your ethernet slower than usual. 

It is a common belief that ethernet is always faster than the internet or Wi-Fi. However, does it always have to be like that? The short answer is no; ethernet does not necessarily have to be faster than the internet. So, the best way to test whether your ethernet is indeed slow is to do some speed tests. However, before you test the speed, make sure to disable or disconnect from the internet for best results.

There are numerous internet speed tests online, but Speedtest.net will get the job done. No matter which speed tool you choose, run the test first so that you can make sure whether your ethernet is slow or it is running at normal speed. The most important aspects you have to check are upload and download speed. Now, let us move on to the second common reason.

– Operating System Malfunctions

You have probably rebooted your computer at least once to resolve some common problems with the operating system. Although many people take this step as a joke, rebooting your router may solve a lot of issues with slow connections. If this fix does not resolve the problem, it is normal to assume that there are some hardware problems. However, before we jump to any conclusions, let’s make sure this is not the case.

If you have another computer nearby, take the ethernet cable and plug it in, and check the speed. If the speed is much better, you know that the problem is located in your primary computer. On the flip side, if you cannot find a second computer, there is something else you could do. For example, your operating system may be corrupt or malware-infected, which is a common reason for slower speed, blue screen, kernel panics, and other types of crashes.

These types of crashes may indicate something more serious than a slow Network Interface Card (NIC), so make sure you store your data before resolving the issue. However, the operating system is probably under serious threat, so take some adequate measures to get it done. Now that you understand a lot more about the operating system malfunctions, it is time to move on to the next reason.

– Certain Software Misconfigurations

Perhaps everything is alright with your hardware and firmware, so the next culprit that could be responsible is the software. The software can be configured to run at a certain speed, which is why you get a slower speed than usual. This is a common problem many users face, but fortunately, there is an easy way to fix it. However, what do we mean by software misconfigurations?

Certain Software Misconfigurations

We will explain this problem by using a car engine reference. For example, imagine a super-fast modern car with a limited engine to drive at a top speed of 60mp/h. It does not sound exciting because the car was not designed for this, and the same can be said about your router’s software. But, on the other hand, tweaking the settings and pumping the top-speed sounds like an easy way out.

This limitation usually happens when Windows updates and installs a driver believed to be newer and better. However, the driver may cause certain software misconfigurations. Thus, your speed can be limited, so you should find an adequate driver directly from the manufacturer. Let us move on to the next section.

– Hardware Issues and NIC Limitations

If you have convinced yourself that there is nothing wrong with the driver and software possibilities, the problem may be the network adapter. It is not uncommon for the NIC to be limited to a certain capability, and this does not mean that the adapter is broken or malfunctions. These adapters are set to factors of ten, starting from 10 Mbps to 10,000 Mbps.

So, if the card’s max speed is set to 100 Mbps, it is likely your Wi-Fi is outperforming the ethernet. This is why you may get a sensation that the ethernet is significantly slower than your Wi-Fi. A new Wi-Fi 5 standard was published in 2013, which allowed users to max out at 1,300 Mbps. So, if your NIC is older than these standards, make sure to get a new one to experience higher speeds.

– Check Your Cables

Sometimes the problem can be something obvious, and it might cost nothing to fix. Cables are important for speed, and although they might seem okay from the outside, the inside is what matters. Cable standards exist, and they can affect your speed, especially if you have some older cables. For example, the Cat5 standard is limited to 100 Mbps, but the Cat3 standard is limited to only 10 Mbps.

This is a huge difference, and that is why you must check each cable individually. Each cable has a standard mark, so it will be easy to see whether you have an older version. If you have an older standard, you should consider investing in some later models. Finally, make sure to check all the cables for any physical bends that can also affect speed.

– Your Network Hardware Is Broken

If none of the above applies but the parameters are still low, it is time to check your networking hardware. Two things can go wrong here: hardware limitations and hardware malfunctions. If you locate certain hardware malfunctions or broken parts, it is time to call your local internet service provider for help. It is common for service providers to upgrade older routers for free, so that is a big bonus.

Nevertheless, you are stuck, and there is nothing else you can do if your network hardware is broken or malfunctions. This is less common to happen than the other situations, but it is worth checking if nothing else works. We are down to four more common reasons, so let us not waste any time discussing the next one.

– Certain Router Misconfigurations

The previous list showed that the most common reason for a slower speed is certain limitations or misconfigurations. The same problem can be said about your router because it can too be misconfigured and not provide adequate speeds. Although rebooting the router can somehow resolve the issue, there is usually more you should do.

Certain Router Misconfigurations


It is a great idea to check your documentation and manuals to see whether you have made any mistakes because the router should be optimized for extreme speed. In addition, it is not uncommon to perform necessary factory resets because they might solve any issues. Now, let us learn something about VPNs and how they can affect your speed.

– VPN Is the Cause for the Problem

Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows users to surf the web on a secure internet connection to a different network. You have most likely experienced a scenario where you are required to use a VPN if you work from home due to security reasons. However, VPN is always the cause for slower connections and can significantly affect your speed.

There are many speculations as to why this is true, but the most logical explanation is that VPN acts as a piggy bank for the NIC connections but not the Wi-Fi. Consequently, the best thing you can do is disable your VPN and run another speed test to conclude whether this is the real problem. Two more common reasons left, so let us learn more about the next one.

– Certain Errors With the Firmware

Every operating system requires updates, and the same should be said about your router. This seemingly small yet significant step can be the key to success. The reason why routers and firmware malfunction and face problems are due to the lack of proper OS support. Although it is not common for routers to receive updates, it is better to check and be sure that everything is okay.

– Having a Super-Fast WI-FI Connection

Finally, we come to the last common reason for slow connection. The reason why you might think the ethernet is much slower than usual is that you experience blazing-fast Wi-Fi connections. Imagine a scenario where you have a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service and a 5G Wi-Fi hotspot at home. It is not surprising to get stunning speed out of your 5G hotspot and get significantly less speed from your DSL service.

There is a simple explanation for this. Your DSL is limited to around 100 Mbps, while 5G offers higher speed. You will tell the difference immediately, and you might get the wrong impression that there is something wrong with your ethernet. However, running a simple speed test can tell you exactly what is wrong. So, after you know a lot more about the most common reasons for a slow connection, let us learn how you can fix it.

How To Fix the Slow Ethernet Issue?

There is nothing worse in the current world than a slow internet or internet connection, especially if you depend on it. However, fixing this issue is not something difficult to do.

How To Fix the Slow Ethernet Issue

The first step in fixing the slow connection is to check whether the connection is slow only for a single device or the entire network. We have previously explained the best way to check whether your device has issues or the router is. Nevertheless, we will show you a list that explains some of the best methods for fixing this problem. Please look at the following bullet list providing some steps you can do:

  • Restart your computer – switching your computer on and off can usually solve most of the issues.
  • Restart the necessary adapter – if restarting your computer does not work, it is time to restart your adapter in the Change Adapter Options menu.
  • Troubleshoot the necessary adapter – troubleshooting any device for error is an easy solution to see the problems you are dealing with.
  • Restart the router – another vital component of the ethernet process is the router. A simple restart can regain the previous speed.
  • Look for a different port or switch – your router has numerous ports, so it would be a great idea to plug the cable in a different port to fix the problem.
  • Scan for malware – malware is a common reason for slow connection, as previously explained. Scanning your computer allows for an easy fix.
  • Changing the cables – we have previously stated the importance of proper cables. If you have an older model, make sure to purchase another one.
  • Disconnect VPN – finally, disconnect your VPN to ensure the secure connection is the problem.

As you can see, this simple list contains some of the most common methods you can use to fix this problem. However, if none of the above works, it would be best to call your local service providers to fix the problem for you. We should trust the experts if there is nothing we can do.

This section wraps the most important details about the process of fixing your slow connection. Now, we will summarize the details, so make sure you read the following section carefully.


Your speed can be affected by many factors, and there are numerous solutions you can use to fix this recurring problem once and for all. However, since this thorough guide covered a lot of important points, we will summarize them in the following bullet list:

  • Slow connections can be extremely annoying, especially if you work from home and require decent connection support.
  • The most common culprit of slow connections is the lack of proper hardware and software.
  • It would be best to check your setup for any obvious problems and then conduct a more thorough scan.
  • There are multiple common reasons for a slow connection, but fortunately, they are easy to fix and troubleshoot.
  • Calling your local service providers should be the last option, but it can sometimes be necessary.

Everyone enjoys working with computers, and having a fast connection is something essential, especially in modern times. Fortunately, this article provided numerous ways to fix your connection so you no longer have to worry.

Leave a Comment