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Why is my upload speed so slow? 6 potential reasons

Whether you’re trying to upload documents to Google Drive, or you’re simply just trying to post something to your social media, slow upload speeds can be very frustrating.

And whilst the majority of us are more concerned with our download speeds, our upload internet speeds are still important. It’s a crucial factor in how fast you send data to others via the internet. With more of us having to make daily Zoom calls, it’s actually more important than ever to maintain a decent upload speed.

But knowing you need to fix it and understanding how you can do so are two different things. So, what’s the potential cause of slow upload speeds, and more importantly, how can you fix them? Well, we’re going to take a quick look at the problems and potential solutions out there.

Why is my upload speed so slow?

Often, your slow upload speeds will be caused by your internet service provider, and this is the best place to start to try and diagnose your problem. However, it could also be caused by your router, or the software you’re using, amongst other things.

It can also come down to the amount of devices you’ve got set up with internet access in your home too. Nowadays, many of us are working from home, and with this can come increased competition for bandwidth on your home server.

But these aren’t the only reasons why your upload speed might be slow. There are a few different things which could be compromising your upload speeds, but in most cases, there’s also going to be an easy resolution to the problem too.

Some things are specific to your upload speed, whilst others can affect your upload and download speeds. So, let’s see what the most common issues are and how you can fix them.

Causes of a Slow Upload Speed

why-is-my-upload-speed-so-slow

There are many different potential contributors to a slow upload speed, and it can make video calling almost impossible Here’s 6 of the most likely causes, and what you can do to fix them.

Your Router Drivers & Firmware

firmware

An important factor which can definitely affect your upload speeds is the firmware that’s installed on your home wifi router. Firmware is just another name for the software that your router uses, and it’s essentially the devices operating system. However, firmware is specifically designed to be faster than software in the case of your router.

Over time, your router is likely to come across bugs and vulnerabilities which is natural for any device. Whilst updating your router’s firmware isn’t a necessity, it can help to improve your upload speeds if you’re having issues with it.

Your router’s driver is, very much like it sounds, the driving force behind your router’s hardware. Over time, you’ll probably get updates for your driver, as improvements are made with the operating system it’s connecting too. So, keeping this updated is essential too.

Solution: This one is pretty easy, and it’s quite simple to update your routers firmware. Doing this could help you to improve your overall connection.

Your Internet Provider

internet-service-provider

Although sometimes slow upload speeds can be fixed on your end, there are also occasions when things are completely out of your hands. Upload speeds will generally rely on your internet service provider and their limits, and there are a few reasons why your internet supplier could be restricting your wifi upload speeds.

In the past, this was often caused by caps on your data limit. And whilst this could still be the problem, especially if you’re having this issue with your phone, most of us have unlimited data with our home wifi networks nowadays. So, this could be part of the problem, but it’s less likely now.

Most of the time, the issue may actually lie with your ISP (internet service provider). You’ll need to get in contact with them to resolve this, but sometimes they’ll just say that there’s nothing they can really do. If your house is too far away from a cabinet (the internet provider roadside cabinets you’ll see).

If you’re currently using an ASDL connection, then it might be worth upgrading to a fibre connection if you can. But in some cases, this might not be necessary. So, contact your internet service provider to see if they can resolve the issue.

Solution: The only way to fix this issue is by getting in touch with your internet provider. In most cases, there is something that they can to increase your upload speeds; whether that means you need to upgrade your internet is another story.

If you are on a restrictive internet plan, then upgrading to 50mbps or more is a good idea. This is especially true if you have several people using intensive devices within the same household.

Too Many Devices Connected

too-many-devices

Depending on the capabilities of your internet in the first place, another thing which may be affected your upload speeds is the amount of devices you have connected to the internet. And more importantly than that, the amount of devices that are actively uploading and downloading content at the same time.

If you want to see who’s connected to your wifi, then there are plenty of different apps that you can download which will show you all of the devices that are connected. They’re pretty straightforward to use, and they can help you determine if one of the kids is leaving their Playstation on and using all of your bandwidth.

Following on from that, it’s possibly also worth doing this if you live in a built up area where neighbours might be connecting to your wifi network. Whilst this isn’t as likely in housing estates, if you live in a flat or apartment, then you could have lovely old Jill at flat 2B connecting to your wifi on the sly.

Solution: If you have a ton of devices connected to your router, then download an app from the App store to check which devices are connected. Start with disconnecting them all and connecting your most important device, and see if this fixes your upload speeds.

Your Router Itself

wi-fi-router

Something else that may be causing slow upload speeds is your router itself. This is especially true if you have an older router, and eventually routers will become outdated. Older routers may have maximum speeds that they can use, and they may not be able to deal with as many devices like newer routers can.

Generally, we’ve seen quite a lot of improvements in wireless network connectivity over the last decade. In some cases, it could be worth looking into getting a mesh wifi network if you have a 2 or 3 storey home, as it can help increase your overall wi-fi range. So, your router could be a cause of your issue.

Solution: The best solution for this issue is to get a new router if you’ve got a particularly old one, as it will likely be able to perform better. Before doing this, you may want to try restoring your router to default factory settings and trying it again to see if this fixes the issue.

Malware/Viruses

malware

Although this is going to be very unlikely, it is possible that a virus/malware could be having an affect on the speed of your router. Whilst a virus on your router itself is pretty rare, you could be experiencing malware on your laptop.

Essentially, the most common way that a virus will slow your computer down is by running other programs in the background. This can take up part of your internet usage, which may lead to slower upload speeds, primarily because your laptop’s memory is being used by other programs.

Solution: Find an antivirus software online and see if this resolves the issue. If you think your router might have a virus, then go ahead and factory reset it, which should resolve the problem. You can usually do this with a pinhole reset.

Check Your Devices Firewall

firewall

Something that you might not have thought would cause an issue with both download and upload speeds is the firewall or antivirus that you have installed on your device.

This may be slowing down the transfer speeds of your laptop or phone, as it’s likely checking the files as they are uploaded, making things a little slower. This is more likely to happen if you’re using your own firewall and not the one that your laptop or device came with.

Solution: The easiest way for you to find out if this is causing your issue is for you to temporarily uninstall your firewall and see if this resolves the issue. If it does, you might be able to find a firewall that works better with your uploading speeds.

How to Fix and Optimize Slow Upload Speeds

wifi-fix

So, we’ve gone through all of the potential causes of your slow upload speeds above, but they’re not the only things that you can do to try and fix the issue. How else can you fix slow upload speeds? Here are some of the ways you can do so.

Factory reset your router – If your internet speed is to simply factory reset your router. Many people find that simply doing this is enough to get their wi-fi back and working again, as it effectively clears your router’s data.
Use a wired connection – As much as a hate to say it, this might be your only option if you can’t find any other problems. In fact, it’s probably worth trying a wired connection to see if this helps your upload speeds. If it doesn’t, then this can help you to isolate the issue even more.
Try it at different hours – With more and more of us working from home nowadays, if you’ve seen a downturn in upload speeds during daytime hours, maybe try uploading in the evening or early morning instead. Internet service providers may have not accounted for this dramatic increase in usage.
Use a different browser – For those struggling with upload speeds on their laptop, then trying out a different browser could be a resolution to your problems. If you’re using Firefox, then switch to Chrome. And if you’re using Chrome, then switch to Firefox or even Opera.
It might not be your problem – If you’re only encountering this problem with one website when you’re online, then it may actually be an issue with the website itself and not you. This is especially true if the site gets a high volume of traffic, as it may not be able to cope with all of the visitors.

Common Questions about Upload Speeds

How do I fix my upload speed?

If you want a quick way to try and fix your upload speed, then the first thing to do is use a wired connection instead of wireless. Then, trying resetting your router to see if this fixes the issue. Finally, you can check with your internet provider if there may be anything specific causing slow upload speeds in your area.

Why is my upload speed so slow compared to download?

It’s very normal for your upload speed to be much lower than your download speed. Modems are designed this way to give you the best download speeds possible, as this is what most of us rely on more and use more. However, even though your upload speed will be slower, it should still be sufficient enough for daily tasks.

Does upload speed matter?

That depends on if you’re going to be uploading a lot of different things! Upload speeds will definitely be important for those that work from home, and they’re especially important if you have a lot of video conferences online.

What upload speed do I need for Zoom and Skype?

Although there’s no official upload speed needed for these kinds of video calling apps, typically you’ll want to have at least 1MB, which is considered to be the standard. But in an ideal world, most internet providers give much more than this (5-10 mb per second or more).

Is upload speed important for gaming?

If you’re concerned about your upload speeds for gaming, then you’re right in thinking they’re more important for gamers than your average user. Obviously if you’re streaming films, then you’re just downloading content. But uploading is important for gaming as you’ll need to share your data with the network – a minimum of 1MB is recommended for this, but you’d be better with more than this.

Conclusion

Overall, although our upload speeds are always going to be behind the rate we can download at, it shouldn’t be so far behind that it’s a hindrance on your internet usage. In some cases, your internet provider might be able to help you resolve the issue.

Generally, many of the causes of a slow upload speed can also be applied to a slow download speed too. These potential causes can affect both, and they’re very common too. But if the problem is affecting your upload speed specifically and not your overall internet speed, then getting in touch with your ISP is a good idea.

Make sure that your internet service provider is aware of exactly what your problem is, and that you’ve done a speed test and checked your internet connection beforehand. The more you know, the more chance they have of helping. A data increase in your internet plan can help, but it’s not the first thing you should try.

Before you do this, you should probably run through our checklist to see if there’s a way you can fix the problem yourself. From your router to its firmware, there are other potential causes of a problem, and it’s just working out where the actual issue lies.

About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

2 thoughts on “Why is my upload speed so slow? 6 potential reasons”

  1. Thanks for your great article! It was well-written and I was able to follow your thoughts even though I have no idea, in general, how computers work. I’ll contact my ISP on Monday to ask for help for my very slow upload speed. Keep up the good work….good writing! It was helpful.

    Jan (my name too)

    Reply

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