Alexander: What’s wrong if Wi-Fi is faster than a wired internet connection

Q: I do a lot of videoconferencing on Microsoft Teams and Zoom. I can use either Wi-Fi with a download speed about 80 megabits per second or a wired internet connection that has a download speed of 240 megabits per second. On Wi-Fi I have no problems, but on a wired connection the video sometimes freezes, forcing me to reboot the computer. The only thing unusual about my network is that I have a laptop docking station with two monitors and an external hard disk drive attached. What can I do to make the wired connection work better?

DAN JOHNSON, Boulder, Colo.

A: A wired internet connection should always be faster than a Wi-Fi connection. But wired connections can be more complicated — for example, yours includes a laptop docking station — and that can slow your internet speed. Here are some ways to speed up a wired connection:

  • Restart your computer, network router and internet modem (in some cases the router and modem are a single unit.) This is just the old truism that a reboot fixes most things.
  • Try bypassing the docking station and plugging the network cable directly into the computer. The docking station may be flawed, or it may have a software conflict with the computer, either of which can slow down wired internet speeds. You should also update the docking station’s firmware (software that’s downloaded to a particular device) from the manufacturer’s website.
  • Avoid using two or more computer screens during videoconferencing; it slows down a computer because multiple screen images must be processed at once. The slowdown is worse when two or more screens have different settings for resolution, or sharpness.
  • Update Windows (see tinyurl.com/3vr6326j) and update its software drivers (software that connects the computer to its various parts, see tinyurl.com/43hwje7h) for your graphics card and docking station. Also update your router’s firmware (check the manufacturer’s website).
  • Make sure your computer isn’t trying to do too many other tasks while you’re on a video call. Those other tasks can take computing power away from a videoconference.
  • Delete some unneeded data from the Microsoft Teams files that are stored on your computer (see tinyurl.com/3jwu757c).
  • If you use an “unmanaged network switch” to add more wired internet plug-ins to your router (see tinyurl.com/ywey27nm), you may be able to upgrade the switch to improve wired videoconferencing. Some users say upgrading to a switch with gigabit-per-second speed will help (see tinyurl.com/4h6cw3wt).

Q: We are using AVG AntiVirus Free as our main security program. Can we also use the free version of the Malwarebytes security program, or would there be a conflict?

ALISON WAXMAN, Manchester, Conn.

A: AVG AntiVirus Free and the free version of Malwarebytes don’t conflict because only one of them (AVG) is running a continuous scan of your computer. The free Malwarebytes only runs if you manually start a scan; it stops running once the scan is complete.

But if you simultaneously run AVG Antivirus Free and the paid version of Malwarebytes there is the potential for interference because both programs run constantly (it’s called “real-time scanning”). Even then you might be able to avoid trouble by setting each program to “exclude” the other from its scan of the computer (see tinyurl.com/yckfvhch).

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