The type of connection you have makes a difference
The type of Internet connection you use is the most important factor in determining your connection speed. The three most common ways to connect to the Internet from home are DSL, cable and Verizon Fios. If you have a choice, Fios is usually the fastest, but both Fios and cable are faster than DSL.
If you still use a dial-up connection, I suggest you upgrade to any of the above options, but if you cannot, make sure you maximize your Internet speed by using a 56 Kbs (kilobits per second) modem. You won't get a full 56 Kbps speed most of the time, but with a good phone line, you should approach at least 45-50 Kbps.
DSL uses the existing copper phone lines as well, but instead transmits a digital signal through the same lines at a different frequency. The "Voice" connections (i.e. telephones & fax machines) will have a filter connector on the line to remove the static sounding frequency.
If the telephone wiring in your home or business is old or deteriorating, you might be notice stray signals or cross talk from other phone lines when your talking on the phone. These problems will also slow either a Dial-up or DSL Internet connection because the modem will have to send the same information over and over until it is transmitted without interruption. Check your telephone wires to be sure they are not damaged, frayed, or twisted around power or other telephone cables. If you notice crackling in your phones, you should replace these or contact your phone provider and have them check them to make sure they are working cleanly.
Both cable and Fios use their own cable to connect to the Internet which are newer that the Telephone network. Beside the speed benefits, their networks are usually much less problematic due to how recent their infrastructures were built.
Computer woes: spyware, viruses, and other programs
The health of your computer can affect your Internet connection. Spyware and viruses can definitely cause problems, but your Internet connection speed can also be affected by add-on programs, the amount of memory the computer has, hard disk space and condition, and the programs that are running.
Two of the most frequent causes of poor Internet performance are spyware and viruses. Spyware can slow your system by interfering with your browser and monopolizing your Internet connection. Spyware monitors your Internet use and keystrokes, which adds delays. The problem is compounded when there are multiple spyware programs running at the same time. If the problem is severe enough, you can lose connectivity altogether. To get your Internet performance back, you should regularly run an antispyware program to clean out any spyware infestation. For more information, see Scan for spyware and other potentially unwanted software.
Computer viruses can also cause poor Internet performance. When a virus infects a computer, it installs computer code which will attempt to propagate itself, usually by sending copies of itself through eâ€‘mail. Some viruses can multiply at the rate of hundreds of eâ€‘mail messages per minute, which leaves little computing power and Internet connection bandwidth for anything else. Viruses often do not give any obvious indication that they are running, so it is best to run your antivirus software at all times.
Browser add-ons also cause performance problems. Browser add-ons are programs, such as multimedia add-ons, search bars, or other programs that usually appear on your browser's toolbar. Many browser add-ons can add to a rich browsing experience, offering multimedia or specialized document viewing. However, some add-ons can slow your Internet connection. If you suspect that add-ons are causing slow performance, try starting Internet Explorer in Add-ons disabled mode. Add-ons are disabled only for the session, but if you find your performance improves, you can use the Add-on Manager to turn them off permanently. To access the Add-on Manager from Internet Explorer, click Tools, and then click Add-on Manager.
Like all computer programs, Internet Explorer requires a certain amount of computing power, memory, and disk space to run efficiently. Every webpage you view is first downloaded to memory and then saved to temporary disk files. Running another program that is using lots of memory and computing power can compete with Internet Explorer and cause delays. If you find your Internet connection running slowly and you have other programs running, try closing them. If you want to run several programs, consider increasing the memory you have on your computer. Low disk space can also cause performance problems. You can increase your disk space by deleting Internet Explorer's temporary files.
Outside factors that affect connection speeds
Unfortunately, there are events and conditions that are outside your control. Even with a fast connection. External factors, such as busy websites or spreading computer viruses, can slow the entire Internet. Popular websites can become overwhelmed with user traffic. For example, when a television commercial or radio show mentions a website, many people visit the site -- often at the same time. If the website isn't prepared to handle the traffic, you will see lag when you try to visit or the site may be unavailable.
During times of heavy computer virus outbreaks, the entire Internet can actually slow down. Viruses spread by replicating themselves, some cause their host computers to send out hundreds or thousands of copies of the virus by email or even broadcasted to other computers in their local network. This behavior can slow the Internet by overloading networking equipment by sheer volume. You can see what major outbreaks are currently happening by visiting your antivirus vendor's website, or the Security at Home website.
Local Internet congestion can also result in slower-than-normal connection speeds. These slowdowns occur when many people try to connect to the Internet at the same time, and they occur most often at peak activity times, such as after school hours when students get home and connect to the web.
If you're on a corporate network, general network and proxy server use can affect your Internet performance. Most network administrators monitor Internet use, and will try to keep people from doing things like downloading large files during peak hours. If you find that your Internet access is slow at times, you might discuss it with your network administrator or contact us for a free evaluation.