Why Is My Upload Speed So Slow?

You’re probably thinking of your download speed when you think of your internet speed. That makes sense, considering people are downloading or streaming things to their devices most of the time. In the United States, the average download speed is 105.15 Mbps for people on broadband, which is fine for most of us for most of the things we do. But what if you want to send a file from your side to a server or someone else?

That’s where upload speed comes into the equation. Upload speed tends to be way slower than download speed, and it determines how fast you can send files to other people or servers. So, for example, when you’re trying to send a video to a file-sharing service, how fast you get that done is determined by upload speed!

If you’ve performed a free speed test, such as those available from fast.com and speedtest.com, then you might notice that your upload speed seems slower than it should be. Or perhaps, files take forever to get sent from your smartphone or computer to another location. 

If you’re experiencing any of the above scenarios, you must have asked yourself, “why is my upload speed so slow?” 

There’s an answer to that, plus many ways to get it moving as it should be again. I’ll be covering all of that in this article, so let’s get into it.

Do you have a particular question about figuring out why your upload speed is so slow? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page. 

What are upload speeds used for?

Your upload speed is important for any tasks that involve sending data from your phone to the network. Dealing with a slow upload speed will affect your performance on these tasks. For instance, some very good examples of this include the following:

  • Posting images or videos to social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook
  • Sending files to file-sharing platforms like Dropbox or Google Drive
  • Sending your video content to others during a video call, such as on Skype, Zoom, or Google Meet
  • Streaming your video content live on platforms like Twitch or TikTok

Sending your inputs and position data when playing a video game online

What’s a good upload speed?

What you should consider a good upload speed depends on your country. What is regarded as a good speed in one country may be a slow upload speed in another. Since I can’t list every country in the world and their average speeds, we’ll use the USA as a good standard.

For most people, including those frequently on Zoom calls and the like, anywhere between 5 to 10 Mbps is sufficient. However, if you notice that your upload speed is slow, it is likely to be below this range.

Keep in mind that the upload speed you find to be the best is dependent on what you do. For example, the most bandwidth-intensive activity most people do with a single program is live streaming at high resolutions. In these cases, you’ll want a speed over 20 Mbps.

Why is upload speed so slow: 5 most important reasons

Knowing the most common causes of upload speed issues makes it easier for you to find out how to improve upload speed. I’ll talk to you about five of the most important factors that can result in you dealing with slow upload speed.

  1. Data Plan from ISP: The data plan you are subscribed to with your internet service provider limits both the download speed and upload speed. Although most plans have comfortable average speeds, you might be on one that isn’t that great.
  2. Router Factors: Are you using an old router that might not be able to perform according to modern standards? Or perhaps your router is simply too far away from the device you’re trying to use it on. There are different ways that your router can affect your network speeds.
  3. Background Applications: Imagine that you’re downloading a big file on your computer. While that is happening, you’re updating a game. Finally, you decide to hop onto a Zoom meeting, but everyone is complaining about your video. Too many applications pulling large amounts of bandwidth limits what is left for other applications.
  4. Security Firewall: For the less tech-savvy, you might not conclude that your antivirus or firewall can affect your network speed significantly, but it really can! It does this because it ensures the safety of the files you send, which slows things down.
  5. Multiple Devices: Similar to the effect of multiple applications requesting bandwidth, the same happens when you have multiple devices connected to a single network. This reduces the ability of one device to reach the maximum threshold. Using a single device can always help increase upload speed.

How to increase the upload speed?

Above, we’ve answered “why my upload speed is so slow” question, and now it is time to see how to fix upload speed issues and get things moving just as fast as they should be again. Let’s begin!

Use a Wired/Ethernet connection

Wired connections transfer data much faster than wireless ones at their very best. Suppose you have an ethernet cable that you can plug into your devices. In that case, you’re very likely to experience faster speeds straight off the bat. It can be inconvenient to pass an ethernet cable around the house, but this slow upload speed fix is one of the easiest.

Get rid of VPN 

A VPN gives you access to services that aren’t available in your country and also keeps you safe on the internet. However, it passes all your network requests through a server in another country. This route takes longer and causes the issue of your upload speed dropping. Turning off your VPN can improve upload speed almost instantly.

Factory reset your router 

Sometimes, minor glitches with your network hardware can affect speeds. A factory reset, particularly of your router, can clear these issues out. How you reset depends on the exact model, but many will have a small button on the rear end. Simply press this to reset.

Update system software & drivers

Updating the drivers on your computer, particularly network drivers, and the software on your smartphone, TV, or other devices can help fix upload speed problems. In addition, it keeps the software up to date, which is great for avoiding bugs or glitches that affect network speed.

Reinstall web browsers

In some rare instances, when you’ve been using a web browser for a long time, it can get a little sluggish. This is usually due to the cookies and cache accumulating. The easiest fix here is to uninstall the browser and reinstall it.

Use a different browser

Some browsers have been proven to be faster than others. By switching the browser you use, you’ll be able to take advantage of faster speeds simply thanks to how the browser manages the data it sends and receives. You can improve upload speed just by using a different browser.

Scan for malware

Have you noticed that you’re experiencing fast download slow upload on your devices? This might be due to malware sending your data out in the background. First, scan your device using an antivirus application to remove any malware. I recommend Malwarebytes for computers and smartphones.

Get a WiFi mesh system

A single router isn’t enough if you live in a larger space. A great slow upload speed fix is to get a mesh system. A WiFi mesh system essentially positions different transmitters around the house, with a single hub, to ensure the entire house gets optimal reception.

Close background data

Turning off unnecessary apps in the background can resolve upload speed issues. For example, try pausing downloads or updates that are going on in the background or any other program that might frequently be updating.

Change service provider

Sometimes, you might simply be on an ISP that doesn’t give you the very best speed you can get. Most areas will usually have multiple options available. So it is worth researching to see the highest advertised download and upload speed you can get.

Credits: Thanks for the photo to Canva.

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