Internet Tips and Solutions

Maximize the Speed of your Internet

Before you go cursing your internet provider, give your modem and router a quick reset (that is, turn them off and on again) and see if that helps. Check the other computers in your house to see if their internet is slow, too—if the problem only happens on one computer, the problem is that computer, not your router or modem. Run through these troubleshooting steps to see if it’s a hardware problem. Then, once you fix your router or modem (or replace it), you’ll be browsing speedily once again. Check out our complete guide to knowing your network for more router tips, too.

If you’re using Wi-Fi, you might find that your router and internet are fine, but your wireless signal is weak, causing a slowdown. In that case, you may need to reposition, tweak, and boost your router with a few tricks. There are more than we could share in one paltry paragraph—in fact, we have a whole top 10 list just for fixing Wi-Fi, so check that out if you suspect wireless signal is the problem.

If you are using a Wireless router, make sure it doesn’t conflict with a cordless phone or wireless camera. Wireless routers come in three varieties; 802.11 b, g, and n (2.4Ghz) or 802.11 a (5.8Ghz) If you are using a 2.4Ghz Cordless phone and 2.4Ghz Wireless router then your Internet connection speed will slow while you use the cordless phone. The same is true of wireless security cameras. Check on your phone and camera, if it’s 900Mhz then it’s fine. If it says 2.4Ghz or 5.8Ghz then it could be the cause of your slow connection speed while they’re in use.

Upgrade your router firmware. Check the manufacturer’s web site for firmware downloads for your router. Compare this with your version, and upgrade if necessary. Most routers have web interfaces for managing this, check for any labels on your router specifying default address, username and password

Upgrade your router/firewall equipment. Specifically, look into any speed specifications (many older routers are not capable of transmitting to/from the internet faster than 10 Mbps, even though the local ports transmit in 100 Mbps). Also, older routers may be underpowered, so that even though the theoretical speed is 10 Mbps, the processor on the router is too weak to reach maximum speed.

Do some basic maintenance on your PC. Run Disk Defrag, a scan disk, a virus scan, a malware scan, and clear your recycle bin. An unusually slow Internet connection experience is often the only sign that your computer is infected with viruses or other malware. Delete old files and temporary files. Never allow the free space on your C: drive to be less than 10% of the total size or twice the installed RAM (which ever is larger). A well maintained PC will operate much better than a PC that has never had any maintenance. Google or your local computer repair store should be able to help you with this if you don’t know how or you can use any good system cleaner and PC optimizer tool for free such as [ Registry Cleaner and Wise Disk Cleaner] or purchase something.

Optimize your cache or temporary Internet files. These files improve your Internet connection performance by not downloading the same file over and over. When a web site puts their logo graphic on every page your computer only downloads a new one when it changes.

Caution: If you delete the temporary files (graphics and such), they must be downloaded again when you go to that site. If you disable the cache (loaded software, data), then it must be downloaded every time you view the page that uses it. This can be fixed by opening Internet Explorer, clicking on “Tools” at the top and choosing “Internet Options”. On the General tab, click the “Settings” button next to Temporary Internet Files. Set a check mark for newer versions to handle downloading new versions “Automatically”. Set the amount of disk space to use to 2% of your total hard disk size or 512 MB, which ever is smaller. On Firefox, click “Tools” then “Options,” and go to the privacy tab. Then click on the Cache tab within this to set it to automatic

If your hardware seems to be in working order, see if any other programs are hogging the connection. For example, if you’re downloading files with BitTorrent, regular web browsing is going to be slower. You should also try installing extensions like AdBlock Plus or FlashBlock, which will block some of the bandwidth-hogging ads, animations, and videos that can use up your connection. They probably won’t solve all your issues, but they can at least help make a slow connection feel more usable.

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More Tips For a Faster Internet Connection

  • Do you have the right modem?      Docsis 3.0 certified modem or higher is recommended to maximize TVC’s new faster speeds. *Docsis 1.0 and 1.1 modems are not compatible with our network.  You can check what Docsis level you have on the bottom or back of your modem.  If you need a new Docsis 3.0 modem, we have high-quality, pre-certified modems available for lease or sale.
  • Have you power cycled your modem?      In order to power cycle your modem you need to remove all power sources from your modem for 15 seconds and then plug it back in. If you have our digital phone service, your modem may include a battery back up as well, this will need to be removed along with the power cord for that 15 seconds. Once you have plugged your modem back in and put the battery back in (if your modem has a battery back up) it will begin to download the newest config file information.
  • Are you using wireless?   If you are using a wireless Internet connection, your speed may be slower than your actual cable modem speed.  Having multiple users share the wireless modem will slow down individual speeds, and if your modem is not secure, then your neighbors might be stealing your signal.  We recommend that you connect with an ethernet cable when downloading large files, which will reduce download times.
  • Are you using the right type of internet cable?  Connecting your cable modem to your computer via a USB cable may slow you down.  Using an Ethernet cord instead should speed up your connection.
  • Is your PC up to date?   If you’re using a PC, download all available Microsoft operating system patches. Downloading these patches is critical to the performance of your PC.
  • Are you running applications or programs in the background?  Programs that run in the background such as instant messaging software, email clients like Outlook Express, streaming music/video or any other program that is connected to the Internet communicates over the same cable modem so closing them will free up bandwidth.
  • Where are you surfing?  Obviously, if you are searching for sites that use the public internet, or are connecting to servers which may be slow on the host end, your fastest speed will be limited by the slowest link on your connection.  Obscure, less-used, and distant sites will generally be limited by one or more of these factors.  Also, external speed test servers are limited by the public internet speeds.  To ensure your speeds are working, we recommend accessing the TVC speed test.
  • Do some basic maintenance on your PC. Run Disk Defrag, a scan disk, a virus scan, a malware scan, and clear your recycle bin. An unusually slow Internet connection experience is often the only sign that your computer is infected with viruses or other malware. Delete old files and temporary files. Never allow the free space on your C: drive to be less than 10% of the total size or twice the installed RAM (which ever is larger). A well maintained PC will operate much better than a PC that has never had any maintenance. Google or your local computer repair store should be able to help you with this if you don’t know how or you can use any good system cleaner and PC optimizer tool for free such as [ Registry Cleaner and Wise Disk Cleaner] or purchase something.
  • Optimize your cache or temporary Internet files. These files improve your Internet connection performance by not downloading the same file over and over. When a web site puts their logo graphic on every page your computer only downloads a new one when it changes.  Caution: If you delete the temporary files (graphics and such), they must be downloaded again when you go to that site. If you disable the cache (loaded software, data), then it must be downloaded every time you view the page that uses it. This can be fixed by opening Internet Explorer, clicking on “Tools” at the top and choosing “Internet Options”. On the General tab, click the “Settings” button next to Temporary Internet Files. Set a check mark for newer versions to handle downloading new versions “Automatically”. Set the amount of disk space to use to 2% of your total harddisk size or 512 MB, which ever is smaller. On Firefox, click “Tools” then “Options,” and go to the privacy tab. Then click on the Cache tab within this to set it to automatic

 

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7 Tips to Boost Wireless Speed, Range, and Reliability

 

Wireless internet is awesome…When it’s fast, reliable, and has wide coverage that is.  When the signal keeps dropping or the speed is so slow you might as well be on dial-up, it’s another story. Frustrating might be a mild description of the emotions a cruddy wireless network can evoke.

Thankfully, there are a number of easy, and completely free, tricks to get your Wi-Fi working like a champ.  We wrote this guide so even those “technologically challenged” among us can run through it in a few minutes.

But, before you dive in, you will need to login to your router using a web browser. Lucky for you, we’ve got a simple guide called “How to Login to a Wireless Router” that will lead you through the process.

Once signed into the router, you might have to click around a little bit to find the settings we need to adjust. Generally, you are looking for some sort of “wireless settings” or “advanced wireless settings” page. Don’t be afraid to poke around a little bit. We’ll let you in on a little secret. The all-knowing and oft nerdy IT people actually aren’t all-knowing. Quite often they have no idea how to solve a problem. However, they are willing to click around until they find the setting they are looking for.

Note: This tutorial assumes you already have a wireless router setup and that the computer you are using is connected to that network (hardwired connected is preferable). It is also written specifically for 802.11B/G/N devices. All of the tips are also applicable to 802.11AC, but the instructions may be slightly different.

1. Optimize wireless router location

Probably the easiest and most important improvement you can make is physically moving your router. Try a centralized location in your home. If it’s a two story home with a basement, put the router in the middle of the home on the first floor. Keep it away from devices that can interfere with a wireless signal, like a microwave or cordless phone. Also keep it away from foundational walls and out of cabinets. Don’t shove it at the bottom of an AV rack stuffed with home theater equipment or in your utility room. Your ultimate goal is to maximize coverage in the home by keeping the router away from things that might block or otherwise interfere with the signal. Try out a few different locations and then walk around your home with a wireless device and see how the signal changes.

Each time you move the router, you will want to record what the signal strength is and perform a speed test. This allows you to be more precise and strategic about the process, particularly in later parts of this guide. You can test the signal strength simply by observing how many bars your device shows. For those wanting the most accurate results possible, consider downloading the program inSSIDer. It allows you to see the wireless channel and signal strength of all of the wireless networks within range.

2. Hard wire as much as possible

This is a pretty simple suggestion. The fewer devices on a wireless network, the faster the network is likely to run. Not to mention that a hardwired connection is faster and more reliable in the first place. This process may involve moving some of your equipment around so you can get an Ethernet cable to it from the router. If you know your way around CAT cabling, you might check to see if the phone lines in your home are wired using CAT 5 or CAT 6. If they are, you could use the phone cables throughout your home to hard wire devices (heck, even CAT 3 can be made to work). You might also consider using an Ethernet over powerline adapter explained in our article on how to add wireless to hardwired devices.

3. Disable old wireless protocols

Even though your fancy new router may be super-fast with 802.11n (or even 802.11ac), as soon as a device connects using an older protocol, say, 802.11g, the entire network slows down. The fix to this problem is to set the router to only broadcast newer wireless modes. For your reference, the speeds from slowest to fastest are: b, g, n, ac. Notice in the picture below that you can select which modes you want the router to work with.

 

If all of the devices on your network support wireless n (802.11ac is faster, but most devices don’t support it yet), then select “802.11n only”. Unfortunately, this will kick any devices not compatible with wireless n off of the network. You can either:

A) stop using the older devices.

B) upgrade their wireless cards, if possible.

C) hardwire them to the router instead of connecting wirelessly.

D) select a mixed operation mode (like 802.11g + n), or E) purchase a dual band router.

Dual band routers are like having two routers built into one (close enough, anyway). They can broadcast two separate wireless networks simultaneously. This means that you could setup a wireless g network for you older devices, and a wireless n network for newer devices. This allows the older devices to connect to Wi-Fi without slowing down newer devices. But don’t get too excited yet. Dual band routers operate by sending out the two wireless networks on different frequencies, one at 2.4Ghz, the other at 5Ghz. Many new wireless devices still do not work on a 5Ghz network, even if the device is 802.11n compatible. Additionally, 5Ghz wireless networks have poorer range than 2.4Ghz networks. You will want to do some research to find out which devices of yours actually support 5Ghz before investing in a dual band router. With that said, if you are planning on buying a new router anyway, go with a dual band router.

4. Use WPA2 security only

WEP encryption used to be the standard when it came to wireless security. However, now it’s not only a poor form of protection, but it can limit the speed of your network. The same goes for the more modern WPA standard. If possible, you should limit your router to only work with WPA2 encryption.

5. Change the wireless channel

You’re certainly not the only person on the block with wireless internet and routers only operate on a limited number of channels. Multiple routers operating on the same channel can cause all sorts of issues, including dropping a wireless signal all together.

First, go to an area you normally have wireless problems. If there aren’t any real problem areas, just move a few rooms away from the router.  Before changing anything, test the signal strength and speed, like you did when determining the best location for the router. This gives us a baseline and allows us to gauge the effects of any change we make.

 

Most routers set the channel to “auto” by default. Find the channel setting in the router menu, and select the lowest option (CH 1 for 2.4gHz networks), then go back and check the signal strength and speed again. Repeat this process with a few different channels. I typically only test the lowest, middle, and highest channels. Once you have found the channel that gives you the best performance, select it and save the settings.

6. Change channel width

As wireless protocols have advanced, one of the ways they have increased speed is by operating using wider wireless channels. Wireless n routers need to use a 40Mhz channel width in order to achieve maximum speed. Most routers come with 20MHz as the default width, this is in an attempt to avoid interference. So, there is a potential for this change to negatively affect some users. If you start to notice issues, switch back to a 20Mhz operation. Also note that this isn’t really for increasing how fast you browse the internet, this change is more likely to be evident when streaming/transferring files between devices on your network.

Simply find the “Channel Width” setting in your router’s setting and change it to “Auto 20/40MHz”.

 

7. Use your DIY skills

If all of the by-the-book solutions fail, then think outside the book (or box). One of the most common DIY methods for creating a killer wireless network is to upgrade the firmware of your router to a version that allows you to boost output. The most common router used for this in an older version of the Linksys WRT54G, and the firmware is called “Tomato”. Lifehacker actually has a pretty good tutorial on the entire process. Keep in mind that not all routers are compatible with alternate firmware.

A second DIY option is to modify the antennae on the router. This is most easily done on routers with visible external antennae. If the original antennae can be unscrewed, purchase larger antennae and install them in place of the default set. Another option is to cut up a pop can or aluminum foil and direct the antenna signal in one direction, much like a satellite dish.

Conclusion

Following these 7 steps should allow you to get the most out of your wireless network. In some cases, you will notice huge benefits. For other people, who already have a solid network or don’t perform any bandwidth intensive tasks, the benefits might be more subtle. Either way, these tips should be considered best practices for setting up any wireless network.

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Having Trouble loading a webpage?  Try clearing out your DNS cache through the following steps:

  Overview

Your DNS cache stores the locations (IP addresses) of webservers that contain pages which you have recently viewed. If the location of the web server changes before the entry in your DNS cache updates, you will be unable to access the site.

If you encounter a large number of HTML 404 error codes, you may need to clear your DNS cache. Once you clear your DNS cache, your computer will query nameservers for the new DNS information.

How to clear your DNS cache

The following methods allow you to remove old and inaccurate DNS information that may result in 404 errors.

Windows® 8

  1. Press Win+X to open the WinX Menu.
  2. Right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator.
  3. Type the following command and press Enter: ipconfig /flushdns
  4. If the command was successful, you will see the following message:
    Windows IP configuration successfully flushed the DNS Resolver Cache.

Windows 7

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Enter cmd in the Start menu search field.
  3. Right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator.
  4. Type the following command and press Enter: ipconfig /flushdns
  5. If the command was successful, you will see the following message:
    Windows IP configuration successfully flushed the DNS Resolver Cache.

Windows XP, 2000, or Vista®

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. On the Start menu, click Run….
    • If you do not see the Run command in Vista, enter run in the Search bar.
  3. Type the following command in the Run text box: ipconfig /flushdns

MacOS® 10.7 and 10.8

  1. Click Applications.
  2. Click Utilities.
  3. Double-click the Terminal application.
  4. Type the following command:
    sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder

    ALERT! Warning: To run this command, you will need to know the computer’s Admin account password.

MacOS 10.5 and 10.6

  1. Click Applications.
  2. Click Utilities.
  3. Double-click the Terminal application.
  4. Type the following command: sudo dscacheutil -flushcache