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Is Your Ethernet Connection Slower Than Your Wi

Oct 30, 2023

Ethernet is often heralded as faster and more stable than Wi-Fi, but what if the reverse happens on Windows?

A wired Ethernet connection is preferred over a wireless Wi-Fi connection for a simple reason: fast internet speeds. Ethernet offers lower latency, a higher data transfer rate, and experiences less interference from nearby objects, thus providing a more reliable connection. However, it can sometimes be slower than a wireless connection.

In this article, we'll explain why your Ethernet connection might be slower than your Wi-Fi and how you can fix it.

Is your Ethernet connection slower than your Wi-Fi connection? This goes against the grain, so there's something wrong. You may have a slow Ethernet connection for the following reasons:

Let's explore how each of the above causes contributes to slowing down the Ethernet connection and how you can fix it.

Perform the following preliminary checks before proceeding with serious troubleshooting:

If preliminary efforts prove unsuccessful, apply the following fixes.

The speed you get with an Ethernet cable can be significantly diminished if it's damaged or faulty. So, before anything else, take a close look at the Ethernet cable from start to end to see if it has been flattened by furniture, bitten by your pet, or stretched to the point of damage.

If there are any signs of damage in the middle of the cable, it's probably a damaged Ethernet cable slowing down your connection. Therefore, replacing the cable should resolve the connection issues.

Are you using an Ethernet cable that is a couple of decades old? If so, check the cable category. Those of a lower category, like category four, could only transfer data at 16Mbps. It is the maximum speed you can achieve with such a cable, regardless of how fast your Wi-Fi connection is.

Therefore, if you have a Wi-Fi connection with a faster speed than an Ethernet cable can handle, you can expect to have a better wireless connection. You can increase the speed by replacing the cable with a higher category one.

When the ports to which the Ethernet cable is connected are faulty, even an intact or brand-new Ethernet cable will not perform optimally. You can confirm this by connecting the Ethernet cable to different LAN ports on your device and router.

If you notice a significant increase in speed with this switch, one or both ports are faulty. Therefore, you should avoid using them in the future. If this change makes no difference, suggesting ports are intact, move on to the next fix.

The internet connection can also be sluggish due to outdated drivers. Even though Windows usually updates drivers automatically, it doesn't always do so. Follow these steps to update network drivers:

Alternatively, you can download drivers from the official website of your router's manufacturer or get them from your ISP. If updating or installing new drivers does not make a difference, move on to the next step.

In the same way that updating the network drivers is crucial for smooth signal transmission, updating the router's firmware is also essential. Therefore, if your Ethernet is still not providing the best speeds, you should update the router's firmware.

While updating your router's firmware may differ depending on the manufacturer, most of it will be similar. Our guide to updating the router's firmware will be a good place to start. If the firmware interface of your router seems complex, visit the manufacturer's website for instructions.

Performing a network reset can fix underlying network problems, but it's not recommended because it resets all networking components to their default settings, reverting any customizations you might have made.

However, if your Ethernet is still slow, you should try this less desirable solution. Our guide to resetting your network settings on Windows shows you how to do it.

An Ethernet connection is not immune to electromagnetic fields, which are poisonous to network connections. Having your Ethernet connection pass by a large electric motor may induce a current in the cable, resulting in signal distortion.

Check the appliances you have placed near your Ethernet cable and move them away from it if they could interfere with the signal. If that doesn't solve the problem, it's likely a hardware issue.

If none of these fixes have worked so far, your hardware may be defective, which is the cause of the problem. Perhaps, your router is outdated or has technical issues, your network interface card (NIC) isn't performing well, or some other network setting is limiting Ethernet's potential speed.

To rule out these possibilities, take your router and device to the nearest PC repair shop, where a technician will test them for hardware issues and help you resolve them. Unless a technician has identified and fixed any hardware problems, it's time to call your ISP and have them resolve this annoying problem.

Having an Ethernet connection perform poorly than a Wi-Fi connection could be one of the most frustrating experiences. Hopefully, our article will help you figure out what's causing your Ethernet connection to be slow as a tortoise. Additionally, the fixes covered will assist you in speeding it up. If none of the methods work, your ISP should step in to save the day.

Shan Abdul is a Senior Writer at MUO. Having used Windows for over a decade, he's accumulated plenty of experience with the OS. He's been writing on a variety of Windows topics for over three years, incorporating his expertise to teach readers how to get the most out of their Windows devices and resolve issues with the operating system.

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