Upload faster than download? Try this

Is your upload faster than your download with your Internet connection? This is a fairly obscure problem that seems to have started happening again. Here’s how to test to see if you’re actually having a problem, and how to fix it.

If your upload speed is slightly faster than your download speed, it’s not worth worrying about. On a symmetric Internet connection where the two are supposed to be the same, I expect to see them within about 10 percent of one another, and if download slightly outpaces upload, it’s not hurting anything. But if upload is faster when it’s supposed to be slower, something weird is going on.

Check your benchmark

upload faster than download
In my case, the weird issue with my speeds was mostly the benchmark I was using. Your situation may need a bit more troubleshooting than mine did, however.

If you have a high-speed connection, such as a fiber-based Gigabit connection, most of the web-based speed tests will benchmark upload speed much higher than download. The browser-based tests are extremely demanding on your CPU. Unless you have a top of the line system, it’s affecting your scores. I also find the tests are overly sensitive to the type of network card you have.

For best results, install the native Speedtest app for your operating system and test with that, rather than using their web site. You’ll find the results are much more consistent, and I find they much more closely match what I experience online with my high-speed connection. This is something I’ve covered before. But in my case, even though my system was benchmarking poorly, I wasn’t experiencing slow download speeds that matched my benchmarks.

Don’t use wireless

Wireless connections have a great deal of overhead, and on high-speed connections, it shows. Plug your system straight into your router with a CAT5e or CAT6 Ethernet cable to run your tests. Back when 25 megabits was a fast connection you could get away with testing over wireless. But that’s not the case today.

Plugging into a switch that’s plugged into your router can affect your results. The effect could be positive or negative, depending on how good your switch is. My $40 Ebay switch actually seems to help. You might want to try it both ways and see if it makes a difference. But I wouldn’t expect your switch to be causing fast uploads and slow downloads. I would expect a switch problem to affect speeds in both directions.

Upload faster than download after all that? Try this

If you can still upload faster than download at this point, there are two possibilities. It will depend on your network hardware.

Try turning off QoS

If you have your own router, try disabling QoS on your router. QoS can cause lots of odd speed issues, and frankly, in my experience QoS tends to cause more problems than it solves. In the hands of someone who really knows what they’re doing, QoS may be able to do a lot of good. But that describes exactly one person I’ve ever met. It’s not me and it’s probably not you.

If you don’t see anything in your router’s user interface regarding QoS, try a Google search to see where the setting is and how to disable it. Sometimes it’s buried.

It might be your residential gateway

In the case of AT&T Fiber, where AT&T provides a black box that you can’t really configure much, sometimes a defective residential gateway can cause weird issues with download speeds faster than upload. If you’ve tried using the native app plugged straight into the gateway and you still see slow downloads, contact AT&T. They can test your gateway, and if it’s defective, they’ll replace it for you and won’t charge you for it.

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