Internet & Home Networks: Setup and Troubleshooting

This service is for faculty, staff, and students.

Your home internet may not be as fast or as reliable as it is at the university. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when there are multiple roommates or household members online at the same time.

If you are experiencing issues on your home network:

  • Watch our "Home Internet: What You Need to Know" training offered through the Leadership Academy
  • Read the list of recommendations below to help you troubleshoot common problems
  • Contact the Tech Desk or your Internet Service Provider for additional help

 

How to Setup Home Wireless Internet

Find an internet service provider in your area by going to the Federal Trade Commission (FCC)'s Broadband website and entering your address to see which companies service to you.

Once you've selected a service provider and a plan, you'll need some equipment to get started. 

This video on YouTube provides a general overview on how to setup a home network. 

Factors That Affect Internet Speeds & Connectivity

Proximity to the internet source or access point:

The closer you physically move to your internet router, the better your connection will be. For most circumstances, you will want to install your router as close to the center of your home/apartment as possible. 

Number of people/devices using internet at the same time in your household:

It requires more bandwidth to accommodate multiple phones, tablets, laptops, smart devices, etc. that may be attempting to access the internet at the same time. If you have an important meeting, exam, or assignment that you need to complete online, be sure to disconnect the other devices and coordinate with your roommates about limiting their online activity at the same time. 

Wired vs. wired connection:

Connecting to your internet with a wired ethernet connection gives you a faster connection because it is not susceptible to radio interference. Wireless is good for many things, but when possible it is advised to use wired instead. 

Wireless gear and equipment:

A general rule of thumb is that a mesh network and 5 Ghz (vs 2.4 Ghz) network setup will give you faster and more consistent connectivity.

Your Device's Software and Specs:

It's important to continually update your device's operating system by checking for patches and updates frequently. This goes for the software you frequently use to access the internet like the Zoom app you have installed. Having access to a computer with a modern processor (this would be an equivalent to the Dual-core 2Ghz on PCs and the i3/i5/i7 or higher on Macs) and enough RAM (min 4GB) will help the applications on your computer that access the internet run effectively. 

Internet service provider & plan:

Your devices can only work online as fast as your service provider and internet plan allow. Many companies offer free speed tests on their websites. Compare the speeds your devices are using to your service plan.

  • If you are not reaching the speeds advertised in your plan, contact your internet service provider to troubleshoot why this might be.
  • If you are reaching the speeds guaranteed in your plan, but are still experiencing excessively slow load times for websites, the plan you have may not be enough. Contact your service provider to explore options for increasing your internet speeds. This may include upgrading your plan or changing service providers altogether.

Some things may be out of your control but can affect your internet signal:

You could have the fastest and "best" internet service plan, but there may be other limitations within your home's structure that impact your ability to leverage the high quality service you are investing in at all corners of your home. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Your service provider’s physical infrastructure
  • home wall material
  • home telephone/television wiring
  • home electrical wiring
  • home plumbing/HVAC paths
  • home appliance usage and locations 

Check Your Internet Speed

There are many free resources and you should not have to pay for a speed test including the following:

You should see two numbers in the results: Upload speeds and Download speeds. 

  • Download speed explains how fast websites and information are traveling from the internet to your device. This number can change depending on the number of devices connected to the wi-fi at the same time, if you're downloading large files, or if members of your household are also streaming movies and video content. Download speeds are often much faster than upload speeds with most home internet service plans. 
  • Upload speed explains how fast your device can send files/information back to the internet (such as when you upload a file to OneDrive, an assignment to Canvas, or a video to Panopto). These speeds become important for interactive applications such as Zoom. 

Is your Internet fast enough? 

ITS recommends that you have a minimum of 5Mbps speeds (per person in your apartment/household) for interactive applications like Zoom, when uploading files to Office 365 or Canvas, etc. The higher the speeds, the better your virtual experience will be. 

General Troubleshooting Tips

  • Physically move closer to your wi-fi router. The closer you are to your router can improve the strength of your connection. 
  • Plug your computer in via ethernet. You may be able to use an ethernet cable to plug directly into the internet source for faster speeds through the wired connection than using the wi-fi. 
  • Restart your router. Most routers have a rest or an on/off button you can use to refresh your connection. Allow a few minutes for it to restart then try connecting on your devices.
  • Restart your computer. If other wi-fi capable devices are able to connect to your home wi-fi but your computer is not, try restarting your computer. 
  • Close other apps and programs. The software on your computer may be competing for your computer's processing power or network resources. Try closing these apps or limiting use of internet devices during work hours to speed up your device. 
  • Limit streaming and large downloads. Similar to having multiple software applications open, using streaming services or doing large downloads of files at the same time as a Zoom session can put a strain on your network's resources. 
  • Coordinate with your roommates and household members. You may need to ask other members of your household to not use the internet while you are performing essential tasks for your courses. For example, if someone is streaming a movie in the next room, that could slow down your internet speed while you are trying to participate in a class or work meeting. 
  • Check if your internet service provider has a widespread issue. Visit the company's website or contact their customer service team to determine if the internet issues you are experiencing are widespread across your city, neighborhood, or if it they are specific to your home.
  • Use a mobile hotspot. Your cell phone company may offer the ability to use your phone's data with other devices in order to access the internet. Contact your mobile porivder to see if a hotspot is an available option. 

Contact your internet service provider if your speeds are excessively slow. Some companies even offer speed increases during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 

Use Updated Web Browsers

The browser that you use on your computer may impact how easily you are able to complete your work. Be sure you are using one that is compatible with St. Thomas services and that is up to date with the latest version.

Steps to Check Your Browser

web browser logos for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

  1. Go to the What's My Browser website to determine what browser you are currently using. 
  2. The latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are all good choices. It is generally recommended to avoid using Internet Explorer. Not all St. Thomas websites and services are available using Internet Explorer (eg. Canvas).
  3. Have at least two up-to-date browsers on any computer you use for work. Many technological glitches can be solved by switching from one browser to another. 
     

 Browse Safely

The Information Security team at St. Thomas works hard to keep both you and the University’s information secure. They provide useful information and resources to keep your accounts secure, including the following tips:

  • Use multi-factor authentication on your accounts
  • Set strong, unique passwords 
  • Safely store your passwords
  • Secure your data 
  • Surf smart
  • Stay up to date with your devices operating system, web browsers, and software

If you suspect a virus or malware may be slowing down your computer, be sure to visit one of our Tech Desk walk-up locations for assistance. 

Leadership Academy Training

The ITS Network and Communications team put together a training through HR's Leadership Academy that walks through the basics of setting up your home internet and included open Q&A with the St. Thomas Community. Watch the "Home Internet: What You Need to Know" training recording. 

 

To report a problem or receive additional troubleshooting, please contact the Tech Desk

Details

Article ID: 108189
Created
Wed 5/20/20 2:18 PM
Modified
Tue 1/19/21 11:24 AM