Monthly Archives: January 2017

Highspeed Internet Can Become Sluggish

There are multiple possible contributing factors.
Modern ‘broadband’ high-speed internet connections should provide you 10 megabits-per-second download speeds or faster. The very high-end wired connections can provide 1000 megabits-per-second. 25 megabits-per-second is a very comfortable speed for most users in 2014. Your daily speed can vary, of course, as your neighbors possibly load the cable network, or it’s a particularly busy download time on the Net. But if you are getting less than 8 megabits-per-second, you should be concerned that you are getting cheated on your high-speed internet account.

Slow internet connections happen for various reasons, even when you pay for a ‘high-speed connection’ like DSL or cable. Because the Internet (and World Wide Web) is built on hundreds of different technologies trying to talk to each other, there are many places where data can slow down before it reaches your computer screen. Your ISP might be at fault, certainly, but there are many other factors to look at before assigning blame. Some of these slow points are within your control and can be quickly fixed with a little do-it-yourself effort.
Common Reasons Why Highspeed Internet Connections Perform More Slowly Than Claimed:
You will need to get both a modern gigabit-speed router and a gigabit network interface card (NIC) to achieve home speeds above 25 megabits-per-second.
Your modem-router might not be configured correctly.
Perhaps you have dishonest people leeching your wireless connection from across the alley.
You might have spyware/malware infecting your machine, and secretly using your internet bandwidth.
A download may be occurring in the background, and you are unaware of it as it leeches your bandwidth.
Your ISP (internet service provider) may be having issues with routing signals to you.
DNS (domain name system) tables might be outdated, so signals are getting sent to the wrong addresses on your ISP network.

Your browser memory cache is so full, your browser has to slow down to allow for its limited hard drive space.
Radio or microwave devices in your home might be degrading your internet wireless signal.
Your computer is more than 3 years old and is not able to move electrons fast enough for modern web pages.
You have unwittingly left dozens of windows open in the background, and they are clogging your computer CPU.
A Windows or Mac dialog box is sitting open and unanswered in the computer background, stalling your computer CPU while it awaits your yes/no input.

These are just some of many possibilities. If you think that your internet connection is slow, we recommend you do two things:

Do a speed test on your computer: DSLreports.com speed testing or Speedtest.net
Perform a troubleshoot on your computer: Troubleshooting list for your internet connection.

Information About Free Wireless Internet On Your Laptop

This is a neat little hack that I discovered last week when looking for a new cell phone plan. I had just gotten a BlackBerry Pearl, and the plan from T-Mobile came with unlimited data transfer for wireless internet on their EDGE network. (By the way this also works with other blackberry’s on other networks, and possibly other smartphones.)

I immediately installed mobile versions of GMail (never even bothered to look at the standard BlackBerry Mail app), Google Maps, and a 3rd party program to sync with my Google Calendar. I was quite happy with the whole experience given that I’d assumed it would cost a lot more for the whole “internet on a cell phone” experience. Remarkably enough, it didn’t. I was paying the same monthly rate ($59.99) as before with Cingular, except now I was getting all these new “web” features.

But then I discovered the killer app that was truly LifeHack.org worthy! A way to get that unlimited wireless on the cell phone to transfer over to my laptop.
In essence, some people have figured out how to use the blackberry as a wireless modem for their laptops using bluetooth. This has two big advantages:

While regular wireless internet is only available in limited locations, this wireless is available everywhere (or at least everywhere you have cell phone service)
Unlike T-Mobile’s HotSpots or other paid wireless services, this is free (or another way to look at it: you’re already paying for it)
Blackberry
And the really cool part is that if you have a laptop with integrated blue-tooth (the MacBook in my case, although some PC’s have this as well) then the entire process takes place wirelessly. In fact you never even have to take the phone out of your pocket! You can just connect at any time, as if it were a modem, in a few seconds.

(Note: if your laptop doesn’t have blue tooth, it will still work through the USB cable.)

To be fair, the speeds you get aren’t exactly blazing. It’s been years since I’ve used a 56k modem, but from what I can recall (and what others have reported) the speed you get with this setup is comparable to a 56k modem.

What this means is that it’s perfect to have in case you need to pull up GMail in an airport or remote location, but you aren’t going to be getting serious work done on it. Still, it has saved my behind a few times already, and after all it’s free if you have the blackberry, so why not take advantage of it.

How To Boost Your Wifi At Home

WiFi is an almost essential utility in today’s society. Everyone is connected to the web and it’s more important than ever to have that vital internet available in your house. Getting it to work well in your house may take some effort so here are some tips on how you can get WiFi to work better at home.

1. Buy a better router

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve helped out with WiFi problems that have had routers from the internet’s dark ages. Generally speaking, routers can last a long, long time and that makes it hard to justify upgrading them. What they don’t tell you is that newer routers have better range, stronger signal, and support for WiFi standards. If your router is more than five years old, simply giving it an upgrade will likely help fix many of your signal and disconnection problems.

2. Put your router in a better spot

Setting up a router is much like buying a home. It’s all about location, location, location. If you put your router on the second story of a two story home then the basement is going to get terrible signal. Put it in the basement and the second story of your home will probably have low signal that potentially drops out. When you set up your router, identify which parts in the house need WiFi the most. If putting it on one side means the garage doesn’t get WiFi and your office does then that’s a sacrifice you’ll have to make.

3. Get a router extender

There is equipment out there that can make your WiFi signal stronger. Here’s how it works. You buy an extender and plug it in between your router and the part of your house that doesn’t get any signal. Once it’s been connected it will take your router’s WiFi signal and amplify it in that area and effectively increase your WiFi range. This is a good solution for large or oddly shaped houses where a router may not get to everything. If you bought a new router and still have your old one, you can set up your old router as a WiFi extender. It’s a little complicated but it can solve a lot of wireless problems by pumping out a stronger signal to more parts of the house.

4. Find the right wireless channel

WiFi is broadcast on a channel. Usually there are 11 channels (1 through 11). On your Android or iOS device, go to your app store and search for “WiFi Analyzer”. Then connect your device to your WiFi and run the app. The app will tell you what channel you’re on and what channel everyone else in your area is on. Then, using your router’s manual (or Google), change your router to the channel where no one else is. If you’re on channel six and two other routers nearby are on channel six, you essentially have three routers broadcasting on the same channel. A good analogy for this is imagining what it would sound like if you tried broadcasting three radio stations on the same station. Changing the channel to an empty one will help your internet cut out less and broadcast further.

5. Move your router away from the interference

Routers aren’t the only things casting a signal in your house. Microwaves, TVs, cordless telephones, cell phones, and practically everything else that makes a beep or a bloop can cause interference. The best (and cheapest) way to deal with this is to move your router away from any of these appliances if you have it sitting near them. I’ve seen people put routers in the entertainment stands right along with their game systems, set top boxes, and TV. That’s a really bad idea. Your router should be all by itself for best performance.

6. Reboot your router on a regular basis
When a router runs for long enough, it can do some funky things. It’ll cut out, maybe slow down a bit, and sometimes just do crazy things all on its own. The best way to reel in an out of control router is to unplug it for about 30 seconds every couple of days. It sounds tedious but rebooting it lets the system restart itself and freshen up a bit. Trust me, it works. One reason routers do go nuts is overheating, so make sure you dust it occasionally and don’t stack anything on top of it so it can vent hot air.

7. Update your router firmware

There is a reason router manufacturers push out updates. It is to fix bugs, issues, and increase performance on their products. If they go through the trouble of fixing things, you should definitely go through the trouble of applying the update. Different brands of routers are accessed differently so your best bet is to visit the manufacturer website or consult your user manual to learn how to access your router settings on your computer. Once there, check for updates. You would be shocked how much a good, solid software update can fix things on a buggy router.

8. Make sure your computer’s hardware is not broken
A lot of times the problem isn’t the router, it’s the computer itself! Wireless adapters on computers and in laptops can go bad. If you’ve been tinkering with your router and you just can’t figure out the problem, check and make sure it’s not your computer. These days households have multiple devices that connect to the internet. If your computer is messing up, use your mobile device, tablet, or another laptop or computer to double check and make sure the internet is truly messed up. If everything works but one device, the problem may very well be that one device.

The worst thing about WiFi is that it’s really obnoxious to trouble shoot a problem. There are just so many things that could be going wrong. Your internet service provider could be down, your router could be broken, your computer could be broken, there could be interference, or your router may just need a reboot. I once had a dog that chewed through a cable and I didn’t find it for almost two hours. Just remember that you’re not the only one who has trouble with WiFi connections. Even professionally trained network administrators get stumped sometimes. Just relax and keep at it!