Lots to think about when diagnosing a slow Internet

Occasionally I get a tech question in the inbox that is quite common. So much so that it makes sense for me to put and answer the question here where more can read and benefit from it.  By the way, if you’ve got something you’d like to ask, feel free to drop me a line through my contact me page.

So, the question deals with Internet speed, and this one is pretty complex because there are quite a number of factors that contribute to the ‘perceived’ speed of the Internet on any given computer:

Q:Hi, my laptop’s internet runs really slow.  I use firefox and internet explorer (they’re both updated). I have tried my laptop on quite a few different internet connections and have run multiple virus and defrag tests with no problems I have 24% free space on my hard drive.  My internet runs really laggy, and i want to sign up for a mobile / stick plan but if my computer can’t run fast there isn’t a point.  is there anything I can do to fix this?

Ok, there’s a lot in those few lines but not really enough to diagnose the problem completely.  Sadly there are a number of things that could impact internet speed, including;

  • the sites you try to connect to,
  • other running applications competing for network or system resources,
  • virus / trojan infection (though in this case the computer was scanned quite heavily),
  • the amount of RAM memory in the system,
  • the age and version of the operating system in use and the age of the computer — this one is important as a 6 year old computer trying to run a modern operating system may have issues as drivers are outdated,
  • hardware no longer supported, or it’s simply not capable of performing modern multi-media tasks that didn’t exist when the computer was originally designed.

As you can see, there are a number of potential issues here, and all of them require more information. So, in this case my recommendation was to consult an expert — giving them access to the machine so they can bring all their experience to bear on the problem.

Since at this point, we’re  not experiencing proper internet speeds, call your internet service provider, and discuss the speed issue with them.  They’ll likely ask a number of questions and have a few tests and tweaks you can perform while on the phone.

Then, if there’s nothing more they can do, perhaps find a trusted service tech or tech-savvy friend and have them help you out, since there’s so many variables that could cause the problems.

Bottom line, good instincts in searching out help. Giving your consulting tech a lot of information or access to the machine will likely generate a number of possible improvements.

And, since I mentioned it above but you likely skimmed over it to get to the meat of this post, if you’ve got a tech question that you think I could help you with,  feel free to drop me a line through my contact me page. I’ll give it a shot 🙂

Are faster blogs more Google friendly?

Perhaps. And if you’re looking to be found by Google, you want to do everything you can to make sure you’re not doing things to make the process harder.

A month or so ago, Google announced that they’re ranking system would take page-load speed into consideration when determining how to present search results to visitors.

Eventually I’d read enough about this, and had installed a cool free performance monitoring system (powered by Pingdom) that allowed me to review my website’s display speed. But of course, life gets in the way and I’d been a bit lax in reviewing it, so this past weekend I took a look. I found this:

This is a response-time graph, the shorter the green line, the better. Which meant that I now had to spend some time figuring out what I’d done that caused my system to slow so significantly.

It appears that the culprit was a mis-configured caching plugin. So, I spent a bit of time playing with the settings on the cache plugin, removed a couple of fancy ‘type’ related plugins that were calling external javascript (external content calls can really slow things down, especially large content objects), and tweaked how the cache works.

And in initial runs, I seem to have reduced the page-load speed by about  40%. Not as good as it was initially, but better than it was quite recently.Yes, I’ll be monitoring results a bit more closely now, and tweaking things as I go. And of course, I’m always open to suggestions too — in the comments please 🙂

Hopefully, Google will look more favourably on my blog, as this site isn’t quite the slug on the Internet anymore.

Time will tell.