Internet service providers (ISPs) sometimes intentionally slow down your internet speeds, a practice known as throttling. Throttling is done to manage network traffic during peak hours or to discourage you from using too much data if you are nearing your monthly data cap. 

While throttling can help optimize network performance, it can be frustrating if you experience slower speeds for basic web browsing and other activities. Fortunately, there are several ways to try and avoid throttling by your ISP.

What is Throttling and Why Do ISPs Do It?

Throttling refers to ISPs intentionally slowing down customers’ internet speeds for certain online activities. ISPs use throttling to:

  • Manage network congestion during peak usage times
  • Limit bandwidth-heavy activities like video streaming or torrenting
  • Discourage the use of specific services that compete with the ISP’s own offerings
  • Enforce data caps and get customers to upgrade to higher data plans

By throttling speeds, ISPs can optimize traffic flow on their networks. However, throttling can negatively impact customers’ internet experience.

Use a VPN:

A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a remote server, hiding your online activities from your ISP. Since your ISP can’t see what you are accessing, it can’t throttle speeds based on the sites you visit or your bandwidth usage.

To use a VPN:

  • Choose a reliable paid VPN service like Surfshark. Free VPNs often have security issues or throttling limitations themselves.
  • Download and install VPN app on devices. You can try setting up VPN on router as well.
  • Connect to a nearby server location for the best speeds.
  • Some VPNs have specific servers optimized for activities like streaming and gaming.

Stay Within Your Data Limit:

If you have a monthly data cap, staying under the limit is an easy way to avoid throttling. Monitor your data usage through your ISP account portal and limit video streaming or large downloads as needed. Using Wi-Fi instead of mobile data can also help minimize usage.

Use the Internet During Non-Peak Times:

Peak internet usage is typically in the evenings when people get home from work and school. For the fastest speeds, use the internet during off-peak hours like early mornings or mid-afternoons on weekdays. Schedule large downloads or data-heavy activities during these times.

Change Internet Providers:

Some ISPs are more aggressive with throttling than others. Do some research to see if other providers in your area offer higher data caps or don’t throttle speeds. Switching providers can get you faster, unthrottled internet. Just be aware of any contract limitations with your current ISP.

Use an Ad Blocker:

Ads use additional data and can slow page loading. Install an ad blocker like uBlock Origin to block ads before they can use your bandwidth and potentially trigger throttling.

Clear Your Browser History and Cache Regularly:

Large caches can slow browser performance. Regularly clear your browsing history, cookies, and cached files to keep things speedy. This way, your information will not be available to assess, and your speed will not throttle.

Choose High-Speed Internet Service:

Higher internet speeds give you more headroom before reaching throttling thresholds. Even during network congestion, faster plans maintain better speeds. Upgrade to the fastest plan available from your provider.

The best way to avoid ISP throttling is by using a VPN. However, combining several of these techniques can help minimize throttling and maintain faster speeds for all your online activities. Be proactive in monitoring your usage and optimizing connectivity. Don’t let your ISP slow you down.