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  • Burton Kelso, The Technology Expert

Is Your Computer Slow or Is your Internet Slow?


One of the most frequent calls we get are people complaining about a slow computer or smart device. We purchase technology get things done and it's frustrating when we can't accomplish our digital task quickly. To add the the confusion, many desktop applications have switched to Internet based options making people think their computer is running slow when it's actually the Internet connection. How can you tell if your computer is running slow or if it's the Internet?  Here are a few things to look for. 

Symptoms of a Slow Computer, Smartphone or Tablet.

Many of you assume that if a device is older than 2 years old that it's time to replace it. You should expect to get at least 5 to 10 years out of your devices.  If you want to check if your computer is slow, look at the following things:

General use such as opening apps, documents or programs like Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop or Quickbooks is slow.  If you're using a web based application like email from Yahoo, GMail, Hotmail/Outlook.com, your programs are running slow because of slow Internet.

The computer, smartphone or tablet takes a long time to boot up

Once you get to the main screen of your device,  it takes minutes before you can use it.

You device becomes unresponsive for no reason.

Solutions to speed up your slow computer, smartphone or tablet.

One of the first things you want to do, is to check out the free space on your devices. Especially with smartphones and tablets, a device that has full storage will slow down.  Photos and videos are the culprit for most devices.  Download Google Photos to store those videos and photos to free up space.  When purchasing new technology, always get as much storage as you can afford.

Consider upgrading your desktop and laptop computers to Solid State Drive (SSD) storage. SSDs can dramatically increase the performance of your computer because there are no moving parts. Standard hard drives tend to slow down after a few years because they have moving parts.  SSD have no moving parts, so the performance of your computer is increased 10 fold. 

Increasing the amount of RAM in your desktop and laptop computer from 4 Gigabytes of RAM to 8 Gigabytes of RAM or more is great way to speed up the performance.

Remove Third Party anti-virus programs such as Norton, Kaspersky, Mcafee as these programs will slow your computer down. If you have smartphone or tablet, you don't need them.  Just watch what apps you download from the Google Pay and Apple App store to keep safe from infections.  Stick with popular apps that have a lot of positive reviews. For your desktop and laptop computers, you have anti-virus software built into your Windows and Macintosh computers, so you don't need to the extra protection.

Symptoms of Slow Internet. 

The fastest connections available in the United States are fiber optic which is Google Fiber and AT&T Gigabit, followed by cable which includes Spectrum, AT&T U-Verse, Comcast and Consolidated Communications, cellular wireless which includes Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, DSL which is AT&T DSL, and finally satellite which is HughesNET and Wild Blue. You can test your Internet speed by going to www.speedtest.net. Slow Internet is pretty easy to diagnose.  There is a free tool you can use called SpeedTest located at www.speedtest.net.  Speedtest determines what your upload and download speeds are when connecting to the Internet.  Your download speed is the most important as it's the speed that determines how quickly you can download that movie from your favorite streaming service. Upload speed determines how quickly that email or file leaves your computer.  The speeds you should see for download is at least 20 Megabits per second and an upload speed of at least 5 Megabits per second.   Anything faster is great, but anything slower than these speeds means you could experience buffering when watching your streaming show and poor performance from your web based apps. 

Solutions to Speed Up Your Internet.

One of the first things you should do is to update your modem/router from your provider.  The technology for Internet speeds is constantly changing, but you should get a new box from your provider at least every 5 years. If you've purchased your own modem/router and you've had it for more than 5 years replace it. 

Rent the modem/router from your provider.  When you have issues and have their equipment, it's easier for them to troubleshoot Internet issues.  If you have a modem or router that you purchased, your provider won't give you support for those devices.

Make sure you have strong wireless at your location.  A weak wifi signal will cause slow Internet. If you are experiencing a weak wifi, make sure your cable provide places your router on the main level of your home or office in a central location. 

All computers, smartphones and tablets have wifi transmitters in them.  The one in your device could be going bad.  Run Speedtest on all of your devices to verify they are getting consistent speeds.  If the device in question get slower results than the rest of your devices, then you need to fix the problem with that device.  For desktop and laptop users, you can get a replacement USB wireless adapter to fix your wifi issue.  For smartphone and tablet users, it's time to get a new device

Connecting to home 5G wifi connection rather than the 2.4G connection will give you an increase in speed. 

The next time you think that your computer is getting slow ask yourself if it is the Internet or the computer itself that is slow. Chances are your computer functions fine, but the Internet is slow.

Who is your Internet provider and what speeds did the speed test yield for you? Are they fast enough for you? Feel free to drop me an email at burton@integralcomputerconsultants.com. Enjoy!

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©2019 by Burton Kelso.