Aggravated with my ISP

August 25, 2009 at 21:03:00
Specs: Windows XP SP 3, 256 MB
I recently obtained an Internet connection with a somewhat local provider. Predictably, the connection slows to a crawl during the noon hour & early to mid evening. MY ISP is telling me that, in order for the enginners to figure out what's wrong, I need to run some tests and submit the info to them. I know what's wrong. Their servers aren't big enough to accomodate the high traffic times.

Has anyone every heard of the user having to provide info to the ISP in this manner? Besides doing the typical speedtest off the ISP's website, I also need to do the following, and it's really aggravating me that I need to take time out of my busy schedule to do this:

Network tools on a PC
Open the DOS prompt by clicking Start > Run. Type cmd in the field and click open. (This may differ depending upon the version of Windows you are using.
o Type: ipconfig
o Press Enter
o Type: tracert (your speed testing city).speedtest.[isp].net
So, if your speed testing city is [city], you would type:
tracert [city].speedtest.[isp].net
oPress Enter
o Using your mouse, right-click in the window and select Mark. This will allow you to highlight your results using a click and drag method.
o After highlighting your trace route and ipconfig result, press Enter. This will copy them to your Clipboard. you to highlight your results using a click and drag method.
o After highlighting your trace route, press Enter. This will copy them to your Clipboard.
o Paste your trace route into your open Notepad application below your last entry.

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August 25, 2009 at 21:44:00
It's extremely unlikely the traffic on their servers has anything to do with your problem, unless you know lots of people of people who use the same ISP and ALL of them (not some of them) are noticing the same thing.

Your speed on the internet depends primarily on the max speed of the package you pay for, and what the capabilty of the servers for whatever web page you're connected to is and how much traffic there is to that web site at the time you connect. You DO NOT get the full rated speed from all web sites, and you don't necessarily get the same speed from any one web site depending on what the traffic to that site is at the time.
e.g. The Asus web site is frequently overloaded and terrible. I often get a much faster download speed downloading a mboard manual from Europe rather than the US.

Are you connecting by means of an ADSL or DSL connection, or a cable (coaxial cable) connection?

If you're connecting by means of an ADSL or DSL connection, the most likely cause of your problem is there's too much line noise on the telephone line you're using - it gets worse when more people are using the phone lines. When your connection is slower, sometimes you can hear the line noise when you pick up a phone (varies depending on which phone) on the same line , sometimes you can't hear it because it's beyond the range of human hearing. Phone whoever you pay for the phone line and tell them they need to fix that for you. If you can't get no satisfaction, if you can get a cable connection where the computer is, go for that.

If you're using a wireless G connection to connect to whatever connects you to the internet, you're a lot more likely to have connection problems. If you can connect via a network cable, your connection is a lot more likely to be better. If you're connected to a local area network that connects to the internet through a router, your connection is likely to work better if at least one network connection of the computers to the router is via a network cable, and/or if the standalone modem connects to the router via a network cable.
If you must use a wireless connection, wireless N (on both ends) is a lot more reliable than wireless G.

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August 25, 2009 at 22:17:03
Have you asked your ISP about it and why it's so necessary?

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August 25, 2009 at 23:15:43
I don't see any problem in your assisting your ISP in figuring out the problem. Some problems are not detectable from the source end. Intermittant problems can be a nightmare. Then there's always the possibility the problem could be in your System.

I've been on Dialup for several years because DSL is not available. I've had to work with both the Phone company and the Local Electric Utility a couple of times to figure out why I, intermittantly, got disconnected.

They were unable to find anything via system testing and had to resort to testing virtually everything in my APT, the local Power Grid and the Phone lines in the Apt complex to isolate the source of the problem.

Guess it depends on how much you want to fix the problem. My ISP refused to get involved because the Phone company owns the Phone lines. They wouldn't even pass my complaints to the Phone Co. I had to do it.

Turned out to be an imprperly connected Cell tower half a mile away but, No more disconnects.

I'd say they are giving you good service.

There is nothing to learn from someone who already agrees with you.

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August 26, 2009 at 08:26:17
All of you are right. :)

I just never before had an ISP tell me I had to run tests so they could figure out why my connection is slow, and it was not setting well with me, but I'm over it, and complying with their request.

The fact that it happens every day during the noon hour and from about 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM made it seem obvious to me their servers weren't strong enough to carry increased traffic, but maybe that's not the cause.

I'm connected through a cable modem. Speed is supposed to be 8 Mbps, but it's rarely at that level. During the slow connection times, it's been less than 1.5 Mbps.

I've been told I have to run the tests in order for the engineers to figure out what's wrong, so I started running the tests last night, and I will continue running the tests today.

Maybe it will help; but I won't be holding my breath.

Thanks for all the input, everyone.

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August 26, 2009 at 10:01:32
A few hints on making your PC faster:
256 ram is quite minimal, adding more ram may increase your speed.

SP3 is a real hog at the best of times too.

Also you may have too many things running in the background.
Have you done your updated spyware and virus checks yet? Spyware can slow things down to a crawl too.

I know you mentioned certain times when your connection slows down. That's quite normal as you are on a cable connection and if everyone in your area is online at that time, things slow down considerably especially the peak times you mentioned. Hope that helps...

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August 26, 2009 at 11:09:04
Thanks. Yes, I want more RAM, but money's an issue right now. It's been my understanding, though, that RAM will speed up my computer, but it doesn't help when using the Internet. Is that not correct?

A couple of weeks ago, I got rid of unnecessary programs running in the background, so I don't think that's an issue any longer.

Spyware and virus checks I do on an ongoing basis.

At $40.00 a month, it's not acceptable to me to have a slow connection at peak times. And, I mean SLOW. :)

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August 26, 2009 at 11:22:38
I agree totally, I use Earthlink DSL for $19.99 a month, not quite as fast as cable, but it is always consistant...I can live with that. Everytime my yr runs out they want more money, but I threaten to leave, so they keep it at $19.95 for another year.

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August 26, 2009 at 11:35:58
Hah! Stick to your guns. I had Earthlink dialup for years. I think I paid $9.99/mo. It rarely went down. Oh, for the good old days, when Netscape brower was so great, before AOL bought it.

One other thing in my defense. I've lived a lot of places. Had Comcast back east, and Qwest in Albuquerque.

I never had such a slow connection with either as I'm having with this ISP.

I'll just keep bugging them until they either fix it or do whatever upgrade is necessary.

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August 26, 2009 at 11:58:08
All ISPs have at least several servers. In my experience, when I notice a slowdown on the web, their own servers are not the problem - their own web pages usually are working just fine, or they're no worse than other web pages when the connection is slow. If you have a DSL or ADSL connection, phone line noise is almost always the problem.
If you are connecting wirelessly with wireless G or B, that's often the problem.
Sometimes I need to re-boot my modem to connect to their email server properly but otherwise, their servers have not been the bottleneck. We had some severe thundersorms in July (the phone line I connect to is on poles in the alley in my area) , and ever since I've had to re-boot my standalone modem frequently every day. Our local cable internet/TV provider can have a guy come and check how good the connection is at the place you have the computer with a special meter - I don't know if that applies for phone lines, and who you pay for the phone line isn't always the same as who you pay for ISP service, and if they're different the ISP can't fix the problem if it's line noise, but they can analyze the problem if they choose to, then you can tell who you pay for the phone line what they found and they may fiddle with the phone line for you to cure the problem.

DSL and ADSL also has a distance limit you can be from the nearest telephone exchange - that's where the device on the other end of the ADSL connection is. If where the computer is, is nearer the limit, you're more likely to have connection problems.

256mb is only a bit more than it takes for XP to run as it was intended. If you're using onboard video (video built into the mboard) that shares part of the ram and that shared ram can't be used for Windows otherwise so you have even less free ram available for Windows.
It DOES make a difference on the intenet as far as loading web pages and streaming audio and video on the web is concerned when you have more ram, but you won't notice much if any difference if you have, say, 384mb of ram or more, and most people don't use any program that benefits from more than 512mb.

Ram is not expensive if your mboard uses DDR ram or newer.
However, look up which ram you can use BEFORE you buy it.
See response 5 in this for some info about ram compatibilty, and some places where you can find out what will work in your mboard for sure:
Correction to that:

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August 26, 2009 at 12:19:34
To add to all the useful information above I would say your ISP, assuming it is cable, is trying to determine if the issue is an overload on your node or some other issue.

You may not be aware of how most cable works. You are part of a node that is connected at some point to a very fast firer optic connection.

That node has a total bandwidth capacity that is shared by all the users on that node. If there are too many users online at the same time the amount of bandwidth available to you may be inadequate and you then notice a slow down.

The solution, in that case, is for the ISP to reconfigure your node to have less users on it. Not an easy thing for them to do. Requires added infrastructure.

I think you should run the tests. Be thankful they are at least giving you lip service instead of blowing you off.

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August 26, 2009 at 12:25:22
>>>Be thankful they are at least giving you lip service instead of blowing you off.<<<

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August 26, 2009 at 22:22:28
Well may be you should start saving for another type of ISP.

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