Speeding Up your Computer

I get a lot of people asking me to look at their computer because it has become "slow". Sometimes I find an old PC that can't keep up with these modern times, or a malware infested Windows box that needs a complete reimaging.

But often times I find that the performance problem isn't in the computer at all. Instead, the performance problem is in the home network. If your computer seems to be behaving slowly, you might want to try the following easy speed tips.

Do some initial network analysis

Before you being, test your Internet service's performance and compare it with what your provider promises. I use the performance tests at speedtest.net quite often. Keep a log of your typical performance.

If you can, try speed test both wirelessly, and wired via an Ethernet cable.

Compare the performance numbers you see with the speeds promised by your ISP.

Restart your Wireless Router.

A wireless router is actually a small, specialized computer with a bunch of networking software built into it. Like any computer, a router can start to respond slowly over time due to software bugs and memory management issues.

I've seen numerous name-brand home routers become painfully slow or even stop responding over time. An easy way around this issue is to restart your router periodically.

To restart your router, simply unplug it from the wall for 30 to 60 seconds, and then plug it back in again. After restarting, try a speed test to see if performance has improved.

Wireless Router: Reboot it and secure it.

Restart your modem.

Believe it or not, your cable or DSL modem is also a small but full-featured computer with some specialized network software and hardware. So it too can suffer from poor software and poor memory management.

Again, I have seen such modems slow or stop if they've been "on" for a long time. Just like with a wireless router, to restart your modem, simply unplug it from the wall for 30 to 60 seconds.
Restart your modem

Prohibit neighbors from slowing you down

Here are some other tips to keep network performance high:
  • Make sure your wireless router is locked down. If it isn't, your neighbors might be using up all your Internet bandwidth. Set a WEP or a (better) WPA password on the router.
  • Change your wireless channel, just in case the neighbors are filling up the airwaves with their wireless router. The "best" ones to use are 1,6 and 11.
  • Make sure that other wireless devices, such as landline wireless handsets and baby monitors, aren't disrupting your signal.
Check your router's manual for information on how to set a WEP or WPA password, and how to select an alternative wireless channel.


These tips won't address every poor performance situation, but I find they often help maximize network performance. I make it a practice to restart my network equipment roughly once a week. Doing so helps keep my network running as efficiently as it can.

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