Guest Post by Zoe Terzetti
If you are beginning to feel that your broadband is not as fast as it usually is, or if the speed has been slow majority of the times, then there could be a number of possible reasons, and simple solutions too. ISPs use the term “up to xMb” to denote speed because there are several factors that affect the broadband performance. Though end users may not have control over some of these things, many a time poor broadband speeds can easily be fixed if we know what and where to look for.
From what I have tried and tested, the most common causes for poor broadband performance revolve around the browser settings, contention ratio and a few other factors discussed here.
It is necessary to optimize the browser settings to complement your broadband. If you have upgraded from dial-up to a broadband connection, it is essential to change the internal settings also. This is normally done when a new modem is installed, but make sure that the old settings are not left unchanged.
Majority of the people use internet explorer, which is a part of the Microsoft package that comes readily installed. Older versions simply mean lower speeds, and they take longer to load a page. Upgrading to the latest version is sure to reduce the time consumed.
Number of Users
Your broadband speed will vary depending on the volume of traffic that is being carried at the time you are on the internet. The ratio to which the available bandwidth is shared between users in called the contention ratio, and this ratio is decided by the ISP. The higher the contention ratio, the slower your broadband is.
Check if your broadband performance is slow during all times or slow only when you are trying to access specific sites. If it is slow only on specific instances, then the problem could be at the website’s end and maybe the site is experiencing heavy traffic. However, if you notice a big fall in the network speeds with several different sites, then it should be the contention ratio. A few internet service providers offer low contention ratios and thus give faster network speeds.
Users who have signed up for an unlimited broadband package should definitely be aware of download caps. Even if you are on a limited download deal, your provider can restrict the speed if you cross your limit. As a rough estimate, downloading a music track will consume around 4Mb and that of a film will eat up 225Mb.
Most internet service providers will contact the customer and warn them about the speed restrictions or sometimes they can place additional fees for every extra GB consumed.
Device Freezing/ Hanging
Rebooting electronic devices and software performs automatic self diagnostic checks. This can fix issues like freezing, and is one of the simplest solutions. You can try switching off your devices for a minute or two, starting with the modem, the router and then the PC.
Outdated Hardware & Software
The more recent your hardware and software is, the better will be the broadband speed. Make sure the operating system and browser versions are the latest.
USB/ Ethernet Cables
Ethernet cables easily win over USB’s. Though USB’s are being used to connect different devices to the PC, Ethernet cables are specifically designed for the purpose of connecting PC’s to a network. The table that follows is a quick analysis of Ethernet cables Vs USB’s.
|Faster downloads||Relatively slow downloads & sporadic connections|
|Quick and easy to set up||USB drivers are not so easy to install/ uninstall|
|Better PC performance||System crashes occur intermittently|
|Reliable||Less reliable then ethernet cables.|
When and What You Download
The demand for internet varies at different times, with its busy usage hours occurring during the day time. It is best to download large files at late nights, when the traffic would be much lesser.
If you can avoid going online at these peak times, you will experience a faster broadband speed.
Applications like Windows updates or realplayer might discreetly run when you log in to your PC. It is essential to note that file sharing programs or peer to peer softwares like BitTorrent, Limewire etc, can impact the speed.
Browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox etc install mini toolbars and add- ons now and then, which do have a role in lessening the speed. If they are not going to be useful to you, it is best to uninstall them.
This is a guest post by Zoe Terzetti who blogs on all things broadband or internet. She is a gadget geek and is presently writing for Broadband Suppliers, a broadband comparison website. Zoe loves experimenting on anything new in the tech world and is a die-hard Apple fan.