Speed of your Internet (part II)

In the first part of this blog I discussed some of the many issues that influence Internet browsing speed. Some can be checked and/or controlled by you. Expanding on the previous list-

  • Memory - When a computer runs short on memory it uses the hard drive which can be 200 times slower. Check Task Manager for your memory usage. Anything above 50% when just browsing is a concern. Above 90% is a problem. It's easy and inexpensive to add memory to a computer.
  • CPU - Again, Task Manager will tell you CPU utilization. Above 50% and you could have slowdowns. Above 90% and you have problems. Quit programs with high CPU usage.  If that is the browser of your choice running Flash then I'm sorry, not much can be done (except turn off Flash...).
  • WiFi connectivity, channel traffic and cross-traffic are something difficult for a user to check.  These are things we can help you with.
  • Your Internet service provider may be struggling to provide the speeds they advertise (see below).
  • Site delivery - Some web site providers can be overwhelmed by traffic or throttle their own downloads in order to serve more users at once. While you are thinking your computer or the Internet is slow it could be intentional by the site provider.
  • Flash and Java - Flash needs to go away.  It is slow, glitchy, full of security problems and a resource hog.  If you can live without the little videos disable it in Chrome by typing "chrome:plugins" in the address bar and clicking on "Disable" under the Flash plugin. Disable in Firefox by clicking on the stack of pancakes in the upper right corner (Open menu) and going to "Plug-ins".  Java on the other hand although briefly slow and cumbersome at times is stable and secure.  Keep it updated.

What Internet speed constitutes good browsing speed?  Most people are comfortable with a 3-5 Mbps connection when browsing sites that are not too content heavy (vidoes, music, etc.).  For users of YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, etc. then more speed is better especially as more content is released in HD and beyond.  In this area of the country, Charter Communications provides cable and usually meets or exceeds in delivering the speeds they advertise (20-60 Mbps). The Telcos (phone companies) use DSL over phone lines which varies greatly in speed (0.2-? Mbps) depending on how far you are from a digital switch. (Something a user will not know. Phone companies are notorious for offering far more than they can deliver.)  Many rural users in this area use satellite Internet access (0.5-10 Mbps) from Exede, Dish, Hughes, etc.  which can be expensive and/or slow and has latency (another topic in itself).  Much of the satellite Internet market has moved to home cell phone modems which provide more services at a lower cost.  And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Merr Communications in Merrimac. They do a fantastic job for their customers, exceed technically and are highly recommended.

You can check your actual internet speed by going to Speedtest.net.

You will be shown a map with your location in the center. You choose any participating server nearby (click on white dots) and allow the program to run. It will return your Internet speed results after it is done.

Try several different servers. Use a wired connection if you are trying to get a true picture of your ISP connection. WiFi will only tell you how good the connection is to that individual computer. (WiFi is slow and subject to interference.)

I've rambled enough. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help with your Internet connection.