Three Reasons for Slow Transfer Rates on your Network

These days, many homes have a variety of devices attached to a network. For example, many homes have more than one computer and a Network Attached Storage (NAS) for file storage. One of the reasons to have all of these devices networked is to make moving and accessing data between devices easy and efficient. Unfortunately, users sometimes find that transfer speeds between devices leave something to be desired. If you’re finding things a bit slow on your network, there are a few things you can do to isolate and resolve the issue.


As a starting point, both devices that are participating in a transfer—source and destination—should be hardwired to your router or each other. If you’re trying to transfer over Wi-Fi, you can be sure you’ll see lackluster speeds for larger transfers. Assuming you’ve taken this step, let’s examine three other factors that can cause slow transfer speeds.



The easiest factor to overlook when trying to find the culprit in slow transfer speeds is the cables. When it comes to cables, it’s easy to assume that cables that look alike are made equal. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case.


Let’s start with Ethernet cables. Ethernet cables come in three main flavours: Cat 5, Cat 5e, and Cat 6. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of how these three standards are different but it’s important to note that you should be using at least a Cat 5e if you want to see speedy transfers. The easiest way to find out what type of cable you have is to look at the information printed along the cable. You’re looking for a Cat 5e or Cat 6. If you have a Cat 5 or Patch Cable, you’ll see slow transfer speeds. Cat 5e and Cat 6 cables also tend to be thicker and less flexible but this can be difficult to distinguish if you don’t have a control cable to compare to.


If you’re connecting devices directly, you’re probably doing so using a USB cable. Again, these cables are not all made equal and you should make sure you have a USB 2.0 or higher. These cables are difficult to tell apart since they typically don’t have the standard printed along the cable. There are some articles that indicate that cable colour can help you differentiate but I recommend labeling them right away when you take them out of the package. If you have some already and you suspect they might be the cause of your slow transfer speeds, replace them with USB 2.0 or USB 3.0.



Now that we’ve addressed cables, the next thing to look at is your router. Though most modern routers allow gigabit upload and download speeds, if you have an older one there’s a chance it might be the cause of your slowdown. If you’re not sure if your router allows gigabit speeds, consult the manual or grab the model name and number from the bottom of the device and Google it. If it doesn’t allow for gigabit speeds, it’s time for a new one. In that case, check out some of my router recommendations at the end of this blog post.


Ethernet Card

Finally, we look at the most complicated and expensive issue to repair: the Ethernet card in your computer. Like your router, your computer’s Ethernet card should allow for gigabit speeds. If your computer is fairly new, chances are that this is the case. However, if your computer is older and you’re not quite sure what kind of speed your Ethernet card allows for, you can do a quick Google check on your Ethernet card or computer model.


By Mike Agerbo

June 15, 2016