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 🙂

Four solid tech-news sites I use regularly

Back in the early days of blog­ging, before pod­cast­ing and Twit­ter and all this new fangled stuff, there was a trend amongst blog­gers to occa­sion­ally do posts about the sites that have all the cool tech list­ings and news, as well as the cool people behind the sites.

These days, on Twit­ter, that kind of a shout out is form­al­ized as #fol­low­fri­day, or #ff for short.

I think it’s a shame that this trend has fallen by the way­side on blogs, so I’m going to do my small part to give it a kick­start by shar­ing a few of the blogs, blog­gers and sites that keep me doing my thing.

Techm­eme — likely one of the biggest names in tech news:

Techm­eme arranges all of these links into a single, easy-to-scan page. Story selec­tion is accom­plished via com­puter algorithm exten­ded with dir­ect human edit­or­i­al input.

Our goal is for Techm­eme to become your tech news site of record.

For me, Techm­eme is the pulse of Tech as it hap­pens. Good to check in to, every couple of hours or so 🙂

Life­hack­er — cool tricks and hacks to make your daily life a bit easi­er:

an award-win­ning daily blog that fea­tures tips, short­cuts, and down­loads that help you get things done smarter and more effi­ciently.

Mash­able — a great resource for tech news that mat­ters. Usu­ally first to have news and rel­ev­ant com­ment­ary.

Mash­able is the world’s largest blog focused exclus­ively on Web 2.0 and Social Media news. With more than 15 mil­lion monthly pageviews, Mash­able is the most pro­lif­ic blog review­ing new Web sites and ser­vices, pub­lish­ing break­ing news on what’s new on the web and offer­ing social media resources and guides.

Ars Tech­nica — a little slow with the break­ing news, but awe­some when it comes to detailed ana­lys­is of news and issues.

At Ars Technica—the name is Lat­in-derived for the “art of technology”—we spe­cial­ize in ori­gin­al news and reviews, ana­lys­is of tech­no­logy trends, and expert advice on top­ics ran­ging from the most fun­da­ment­al aspects of tech­no­logy to the many ways tech­no­logy is help­ing us enjoy our world. We work for the read­er who not only needs to keep up on tech­no­logy, but is pas­sion­ate about it.

So these are a few of my prime resources, what’re yours? Which sites are your must-go-to sites when you need to find out more about a tech top­ic?

I get a new label

The fol­low­ing post is a Quick­Hit™ — an art­icle or post I found online and thought was import­ant enough to share dir­ectly with you. Of course, you’ll see my thoughts or opin­ions pre­pen­ded or appen­ded to this post, oth­er­wise I’m just scrap­ing con­tent, and that’s not the intent.

Accord­ing to this art­icle on Mar­ket­ing­Daily, I’m a Techfluential…though I could be a bit ‘old’ 🙂

Tech­no­logy and elec­tron­ics mar­keters may want to begin 2010 tar­get­ing a small but influ­en­tial group of con­sumers who have some undue weight when it comes to influ­en­cing the pur­chases of oth­ers.

Accord­ing to Dav­id Krajicek, man­aging dir­ect­or of tech­no­logy with GfK Cus­tom Research North Amer­ica, this group of “tech­flu­en­tials” is made up of highly con­nec­ted indi­vidu­als (index­ing mostly under 30) who like to share their opin­ions about products that make their lives easi­er.

Or am I just an opin­ion­ated guy that likes to talk tech?

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