How fast is my internet? or how to improve your wireless network speed.

A friend recently asked me how hey could troubleshoot their internet speed at home, which prompted me to create this post.

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How fast is your internet?

Using a site like http://www.speedtest.net  (there’s also an app for that speedtest.net app)- you can check the realized speed that your computer is actually receiving from your internet service provider(ISP).  This is done by uploading and downloading test files to and from area specific servers to determine how quickly your computer is sending and receiving data.  You can sign up for a free account and even track this data over time(if you are uber nerdy and want a stat geek).  They also provide national comparisons with other ISP’s and service types to give you an idea of the quality of your particular service.

If you are getting lower numbers than you’d expect here are several items to check:

  1. Restart your equipment front to back.  If you have a cable modem and wireless router, restart both and let the cable modem come up first then power off and on your wireless router.  Sometimes this simple tip will clear any downstream issues and reset your internet and get you back up to speed.
  2. Check your computer for malware / adware / viruses / trojans , etc…  These annoying things can slow down your browser making your computer’s connection speed appear slower.  This is not always the case for a slow connection but a good check to make nonetheless.
  3. Are you using the best Domain Name Server(DNS) server?  – Another product called NameBench checks name resolution speed.  Your name resolution is what translates the name of your domain say google.com into its specific IP address on the internet.  Many speed issues are related to slow name server resolution speeds.  If this is your case you can add a faster DNS entry by using that product. Here’s a great article from LifeHacker on DNS.
  4. Check to make sure your wireless router/cable modem/ and computer are up to date on patches, firmware updates etc.  Sometimes there’s a problem with the software that the manufacturer will have updated and fixed and this can sometimes lead to better performance(NOTE: sometimes this can also cause problems to occur when you didn’t have some before – BE CAREFUL doing this).
  5. Check for interference sources and limit those.  I remember in our old house our cordless telephone and our microwave used to always interfere with our wireless internet signal and cause drops or slow downs.  We remedied the phone situation by upgrading our phones from 2.4 GHZ to 5.8 and don’t run the microwave if we are needing full speed internet.
  6. Similar to the last step, check for interference from your neighbors wireless routers.  There are a limited number of channels for wireless signal.  Your neighbors wi-fi setup may be conflicting with yours so check what channel your services is running on.   These articles show you how to Determine your Wireless channel – HowtoGeekeHow

I hope these tips are helpful.   Send me some feedback and let me know if you have any other tips for improving wireless speed.

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