This is an often-asked question that can have many answers. I’ll try to touch on a few more common things to check when your broadband slows down. (Keep in mind it could be your ‘computer’ that is slowing down and ‘not’ your broadband connection)
The first thing would be to run an online speed test. This helps to get a general idea of the current speed of your internet connection. It’s only an approximate, but certainly OK for a starting point. To find a broadband speed test utility, you can perform a Google search with a search string of ‘broadband speed test’. This should pull back a number of options for you.
Another way is to visit our web site and check the utilities section. We’ve gathered up a few different links to a few different speed tests. This way you can run a few different tests and compare your results. When you execute these tests, your browser should be the only thing running on your computer. Close down any games, email clients, etc. you may have running.
Ok, the next thing to keep in mind is the type of broadband access you’re using. If your using DSL, then the further away you are from the telephone company central office, the weaker your signal will be. If you’re using cable internet access you’re sharing your connection with others in your neighborhood using the same cable internet access. These are a couple of things that, unfortunately for residential users you have no control over. But let’s get to some things you do have control over.
First up spyware. These are the nasty little (‘almost’ invisible) programs that find their way onto your computer. Some malicious, some not, but in either case they take resources away from your computer. Resources are things like your CPU (processor), memory, hard disk space, etc. You can be proactive here. We recommend using Spybot. This is a free utility you can install and execute on your computer. Its job is to hunt down and destroy these resource hogs. Again, do you Google search using ‘Spybot’ as your search term.
Viruses are another problem. You should ‘always’ keep your virus protection software running and up to date. These are usually configurable for auto-update capabilities. It is imperative you keep this running so it can protect you from malicious computer virus attacks. A slow computer is one thing; a computer that crashes is completely different.
If you tend to install and uninstall many programs, there is the chance that your computers hard drive is fragmented. Simply, the hard drive needs to search more when trying to piece together a file, etc. Hard drives do not store information sequentially. A file can be stored at many different locations throughout your hard drive and your computer works harder to find and put together the file you’re accessing. For windows users, you can click the start button (lower left corner) then select Accessories, then select System Tools. In this program grouping, you will find a utility called Disk Defragmenter.
Running this utility will tell you whether or not you even need to de-fragment your hard drive or not and if you do, there is a button to click to begin the process.
Before you get to worried or geek out to much, check your current broadband speed, clean up any spyware, protect yourself from viruses, clean any viruses found and check your disk space and fragmentation level to determine whether or not you need to de-fragment your hard drive.
These are just a few things that you can check. We’ve left out things like memory capacity, firewalls, proxies and modems.
Our intent was not to discuss each possibility, as there are many. Our intent was to point out a few basic things you could do yourself today.
If you see that your broadband connection itself is the culprit due to bad speed tests, contact your internet service provider (ISP).
If your broadband connection speed is fine, chances are the problem is with your computer. Follow the steps outlined above and test again.
If the problem persists you may need to upgrade your computer. However, before I would upgrade anything, I would first attempt to get more information from the internet, friends, family or someone knowledgeable to diagnosis the issue further. Running out and buying new equipment is fine if you can afford that. I think it’s better to identify the problem first. After all, it may be something easily fixed. Better yet, once you understand what it was and how it happened, it may be something you can guard against the next time.