A number of factors could be contributing to internet connection appearing to run slowly. It could be your provider's connection to internet, your local hardware (ie cable modem, router) network adapter, wifi router or traffic inside your network.
Check your connection speed to the internet via a speed test tool at http://speedtest.net or http://speakeasy.net/speedtest. Don't use you ISP's speed test because it runs from a server relatively close and doesn't catch issues with the speed of the internet at large. If the speed test is not within the advertised speed your ISP guarantees go through the following check list.
- If you are using wifi, plug in with an ethernet cable and do the test again.
- If you have another computer in house, do the speed test on it. If it's OK then it must be the first computer. High load can slow network activity. Check if virus and trojan updates are current.
- Is your cable or ADSL modem's lights all green? If you have a router are there any warning lights flashing. If in doubt reboot first the modem and then the router by pulling the power for a couple of seconds.
- Is your teenage son uploading a YouTube video? Often upload speeds are a small fraction of download speeds so a large upload can disable throughput for the duration of the upload.
- If all these steps fail call your ISP to see if there is any issues with their network.