Is my Internet connection ok?

This past week, I was having problems with my home Internet connection.  It seemed slow and sluggish to respond.  Normally, when I type in a website address in my browser, it appears within about a second or so.  This week though, it was taking a few seconds at least for a website to appear.  Here’s some troubleshooting steps I took to figure out where the problem was:

1 – Reboot your computer – Was it just my laptop?  Often a computer reboot can do wonders to solve simple problems.  In this case though, it didn’t help my problem.  After reboot, I launched a browser…and waited.

2 – Try another computer – Is my laptop the problem?  OK, let’s see if this happens on another computer also.  I booted up my wife’s laptop and checked the Internet.  Seemed sluggish too.

3 – Other problems – I also noticed my ‘smart’ phone’s WiFi connection status showed full signal bars, but was not connected to my WiFi with a “Ready to connect when network quality improves” message.  Pretty ‘smart’.

4 – Try a cable – Is it a Wireless problem? – To make sure this was not a wireless issue (maybe caused by interference?), I turned off my wireless on my laptop (usually a little switch on the side of your laptop or a function key combination like Fn+F5) and connected my laptop to my Internet router with an Ethernet cable.  Same deal.

5 – Speedtest – Houston, we have a problem here.  Let’s run a speedtest to check some numbers and see if it’s my imagination or impatience that’s the problem.  I went to the Comcast Speedtest website at speedtest.comcast.net.  Choose a location and it will give you 3 speed results.  First a ‘Ping’ response test.  It send a packet to a server and measures the speed it gets a response.  On a good Internet connection, this should be somewhere in the 20-50ms (milliseconds) range.  Anything significantly above this range means you could be having Internet problems.  Next, it will measure your ‘download’ and ‘upload’ speeds.  On most Internet connections, the download will be much higher (maybe 10x) than the upload speed.  This is ok, as most of us just ‘download’ data FROM the Internet and don’t ‘upload’, or send much data TO the Internet.  This speed is your ‘bandwidth’ and depends on the speed level you have purchased from your ISP (Internet Service Provider, like Verizon, Comcast, etc.).  The speed here should be close to that number, but often not exact.  That’s fine.  Now, in my case, when I was having the problems, my ping response was about 200ms (bad).  My download was about 5mbps (my Internet package should be 20mbps) and upload was less than 1mbps.  Not good.

6 – Reboot your Internet equipment – Now that we know there is a real problem and it is not just with my PC, let’s check the Internet modem/router.  First thing to do is REBOOT (power cycle).  You may have a modem (the device that is connected to the ‘coax’ (for cable or FIOS) or telephone cable (DSL) that comes in from your ISP) and possibly a Router (has a cable coming from the modem to the router which may have an antenna or two and usually 4 ‘ports’ to plug computers into the back of it.  You may also have a single modem/router combination device (most popular these days).  Just pull out the power cable, wait about 60 seconds, then plug it back in.  If you have 2 devices, plug in your modem first, wait about a minute or two for all of the lights to stop ‘dancing’ and then plug in your router.  My result after this – no change, still slow.

7 – Call your ISP – Not my favorite thing to do, but sometimes a necessary evil.  Call their 800# and talk to a ‘technical support’ rep.  Tell them the above steps you did before calling and hopefully they will check if they are having any system-wide or problems in the area.  They should also check ‘their end’ (check to see if they can reach your modem to see if the lines are ok).  SINCE WE RULED OUT A PROBLEM WITH YOUR COMPUTER IN THE STEPS ABOVE, DO NOT LET THEM DO SOMETHING STUPID LIKE WIPE OUT YOUR COMPUTER (I’ve unfortunately, had customers report phone tech reps have them wipe out/recover their PCs or cause other problems to troubleshoot a problem like this.  Don’t let them!).  Now, in my case, they found the lines were ok and had me do a ‘factory reset’ of their modem/router.  After doing this, the Internet came back to life (see new SpeedTest report below).  In retrospect, I could have done this (factory reset of the modem) myself and avoided the call, but often I have found this does not help (not to mention I have to re-configure my settings in the modem) and the problem could be on their end.  The good news though is that the problem got fixed and I didn’t have to have my lawn dug up to lay another cable (thanks Verizon for that a few years ago) or have to jump thorough a ton of hoops to get it fixed.

A Normal, Speedtest result.

A Normal, Speedtest result.

If your Internet seems slower than it should be or you’re having, VOIP (voice over IP) problems, I would recommend running a SpeedTest.

Still having problems? (or your ISP says it’s not their problem)  Give us a call at Discount Computer Service.  We have experienced technicians that can come to your home or business and clear up any Internet or other problems.  410-366-7300

As always, I appreciate your business and referrals!    -Dan

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