Why Is My Internet So Slow?

By Windows Talk

Why Is My Internet So Slow?

We live in a world where vast amounts of data can be sent and received with the touch of a button. We often take this capability for granted until a problem arises and we are no longer able to access a certain file or stream a high definition movie. Often times we become quite frustrated at how slow our computer seems to be operating. Computers are similar to any other machine; without proper maintenance their performance will steadily decline. This lag time may be the result of internal errors or be caused by external variables. Let us have a look at some of the common causes for poor performance.

Free Internet Speed Test

Internal Problems

It should be pointed out that before examining any external factors, one should determine whether there may be any internal or user-generated causes. For example, if many different windows are open which are constantly updating themselves, much virtual memory may be used in this process. This can be common with flash-oriented websites such as Facebook or YouTube. Similarly, if a user is attempting to download a very large file, speeds can be adversely affected. If none of these seem to be the case and a virus scan has detected no abnormalities, then chances are the problem is due to conditions outside the user’s immediate control.

External Conditions

There are times when the internet itself can cause a great deal of issues in regards to the speed of an operating system. For example, a website which is composed of movie files or flash presentations will naturally be slower than a mainly text-based site such as a blog. If a site is loaded with advertisements, chances are that these ads will refresh at certain intervals. This can cause a pronounced delay when executing specific online requests. If a website is inundated with many visitors, the page may take longer to respond or even freeze entirely. For flash sites, the time of day and number of people browsing can also have a direct effect. Many people accessing a site at the same time can put great strain on the site’s server capacity.

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4 thoughts on “Why Is My Internet So Slow?

  1. Sounds like your internet service provider tried to pull one over on you. When you first get your service, a lot of people will run speed tests to see how fast it’s going. After awhile, most people don’t do these speed tests anymore. The service providers know that and can easily lower someones speed without them ever knowing it. It certainly would not surprise me how many companies would do this. In fact, a service provider I’ve used in the past tried to tell me there was nothing wrong with my service; until I started throwing numbers at them (upload, download, ping, etc.). When they realized I knew what I was talking about, they immediately worked on resolving the issue.

    My issue happened to concern the router…they tried to say that everything was okay. Then, after throwing out the numbers, they then tried to say it was my wiring (internal). I explained to them that it was the router (I had borrowed one from a friend and saw an immediate increase in Throughput)…they sent out a tech, who still argued it was my wiring. After they changed all of the wiring (and added a signal booster), the tech then determined my router was bad…they changed that as well. Then the fun started when I got my next bill. They tried to tack on a service call (I offered to go to their location and swap out the router) and even charged me for the new wiring and signal booster. Once I had them pull up my original call log (explaining that I told them it was the router), they quickly removed all of the charges…yes, all of them.

    In short, don’t ever believe them when they say something. If they can save bandwidth by lowering your upload/download speed, they very likely will do it. Do your research and don’t blindly accept their “supposed” advice…it pays to know what you’re talking about…or at least will help save you some money…………

    • @EKMA: I concur with many of your remarks about how ISP tech personnel are dismissive of “technically informed” customers and fail to do some of the most rudimentary tests they have access to. You were fortunate to have the ISP reverse / cancel their unwarranted charges.

      I have always done speed tests on a now and then basis since getting my first high speed service circa 1997. My most recent speed tests were just a few months ago and have been just fine. I have been with SaskTel ever since the mid-1990s (in dial-up days) and have never experienced (that is, until this most recent event that I described), nor heard of any SaskTel customer’s experiencing, the kind of shenanigans with download caps, throttling (either time-of-day speed limiting or type-of-service (e.g. P2P, VoIP, online gaming) or other methods of tampering with the offered service speeds.

      I was almost certain they were doing this to my service… but how to “prove” it was going to be a challenge for my home service and convincing them….??? Well your own experience demonstrates how willing they are to listen to input from knowledgeable users.

      I am aware that these “tamperings” are commonly done by many ISPs around the world. Fortunately for me, SaskTel is a provincial government owned and operated utility. It is not driven as much as private sector ISPs by profit motives and shareholder expectations.

      Testing of internet lines has advanced today far beyond just speed test and ping and traceroute. Some are extremely sophisticated and can diagnose where the problems (often more than one) exist in the end-to-end client-server network channel. Not only diagnose, but make recommendations on what corrective actions might be taken.

      I was amazed at some of the test / diagnostic tools I discovered. I’ll write a few notes about where to find some of these and put them in a separate post later today.

      I’m quite convinced that two of the test / diagnostic tools I found would have identified your router as the problem… and done so very quickly… and with copyable results that could be emailed to the ISP techs… if they needed “proof”.

  2. I never would have believed it, but my internet line somehow got “reprogrammed” to a slower service plan that Maxed out at 1.5Mbps download. The SaskTel help desk techs do not have any clue how it happened — only that it did.

    Today (Monday), after doing diagnostics on my high speed modem and then my PC, all day Saturday & Sunday (and confirming in all cases that my line tested as a “T1” 1.5 Mbps), I found via Google, another SaskTel customer had experienced (in 2010 – 3 times in 2 months) this reprogramming of his line to a lower speed plan limit. Fortified with this knowledge, I called the Help Desk again… Before I related this “info”, the more knowledgeable tech I spoke with today said he saw something that “looked funny” and he would try “reprogramming” my line…

    A quick reboot and PRESTO…. my download speed was back up to 5+Mbps!!!

    I should add that my upload speed (max of 640 Kbps) seemed totally unaffected by my slow download speed problem… It did not get mysteriously degraded to the (s)lower plan limits.

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