Since its launch in July 2015, Windows 10 has become one of the most widely used operating systems in the world with more than 400 million installations. Windows 10 packs in a bundle of new features compared to Microsoft’s previous flagship OS, Windows 8.1. These additional features have improved usability and functionality, but there’s a price to pay: They also consume a considerable amount of system resources and network bandwidth, resulting in slower Internet speeds.
This reduced network throughput usually happens because of background activities and other services of Windows 10, which by default consumes or reserves some of your Internet bandwidth for various reasons.
Users suffering from these issues can perform a few easy troubleshooting steps that might bring their Internet back up to speed.
Monitoring Windows updates
Windows 10 comes enabled with automatic Windows updates. The update function stays active in the background and can consume large chunks of network bandwidth as it checks for and downloads all the updates. Although it is recommended to keep Windows updated, you can temporarily disable the feature. This might boost your Internet speed.
During the Windows 10 rollout, Microsoft devised an automatic system that turns your PC into a file-sharing server to reduce the load on the central Window’s servers. As a result of this P2P sharing service, a portion of your network services is constantly engaged in background activities. To overcome this, one needs to properly manage these services by following these steps:
- Navigate to your Windows settings and click on “Windows Update” from “Update and recovery” menu.
- Click on “Choose how updates get installed” option and set your update preferences accordingly.
Restrict background applications
Applications running in the background can be a very common and obvious reason for lagging Internet speeds. Many of these background applications can be disabled when not in use to prevent a slow Internet connection. This will also improve the overall performance of the system.
Commonly used bandwidth consuming applications:
- Torrent applications
- Cloud-storage applications such as Dropbox and Google Drive
- Antivirus software
- Graphics card driver applications such as Nvidia GeForce Experience
A simple approach to the problem would be to turn off some of these applications when not in use. (Of course, you want to be very careful before turning off your antivirus program.) In addition to these applications, Windows packs in a lot of additional background services that tends to drain your Internet’s bandwidth. To check and monitor these background services/apps follow the steps mentioned below:
- Right-click the Windows Taskbar and open “Task Manager.”
- In the Task Manager’s menu click on the “Performance" tab.
- Now, click on “Open Resource Monitor” from the bottom portion of the window.
- Click on the Network tab and check for the applications or services that have a high number of send and receive requests. A higher number indicates that these particular services/apps are consuming a great deal of your bandwidth.
Firewalls are one of the most important security features that comes preinstalled with Windows operating systems. But apart from protecting your system from malware and intruders, firewalls can sometimes block or slow down your Internet speeds and can limit your network bandwidth significantly. In the case of slow Internet speeds, try disabling the firewall temporarily to check whether this is the culprit affecting your Internet connection. If it appears that it is indeed the firewall that is slowing your Internet, check your firewall settings to see if there are any unnecessary rules or other configurations you can tweak. If you are using Windows 10's built-in firewall, you might consider using a third-party firewall instead. And conversely, if you are already using a third-party firewall, you might consider switching to the Windows 10 built-in firewall. Different systems will get different results.
Disabling Large Send Offload (LSO)
Large Send Offload is one of the latest features in Windows 10. LSO is actually meant to improve the overall network performance of the system, but contrary to its purpose, this feature actually allows background applications to consume a considerably large amount of network bandwidth. It can, however, be disabled manually.
Here are the steps to disable LSO:
- Open Start Menu and right-click on the Computer and select "Properties."
- Now Click on "Device Manager" from control panel.
- Among all the devices listed, expand "Network Adapters."
- Find your Network Card and double-click on it.
- Select "Advanced" tab and Select "Large Send Offload V2 (IPv4)" and set the value to Disabled.
- Do the same for Large Send Offload V2 (IPv6) (if it is available).
- Click OK.
Installing official network drivers
Although Windows 10 comes preinstalled with all required generic drivers, they sometimes result in stability and compatibility issues with the system’s hardware. In the case of slower Internet speeds, it is advisable to download the appropriate drivers manually from the hardware manufacturer’s website for better Internet connections and more stable performance of the system.
Tweaks using 'Group Policy Editor'
If nothing mentioned above works, then this measure might come in handy. Although most of us use Windows as our primary operating system, not every one of us is aware that Windows 10 reserves 20 percent of your Internet bandwidth for OS and other system-related services. This means you only have the remaining 80 percent for your browsing and other internet usages. You can disable this Internet bandwidth reservation by following these steps.
- Log in to your system with admin rights and click on windows key+R key on the keyboard at the same time to get Run window.
- Type "gpedit.msc" in the search box of Run and press OK.
- Once the Group Policy window is loaded, click on “Computer Configuration” option
- Now navigate through "Administrative Templates" > "Network" > "QoS Packet Scheduler" and click on “Limit reservable bandwidth”
- In the new window that appears, choose “Enabled” and change the corresponding Bandwidth limit (%) to 0.
- Apply these changes and click on OK
Hopefully, many of your issues and concerns regarding slow and laggy Internet speeds will be resolved by following these simple tips and troubleshooting methods. If the problem persists, you might need to contact your Internet service provider or check for physical issues in your network and system.