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I feel that downloading material (in my case, a big Ubuntu installation CD) slows down when I pick up my PC and move it while on a public library WIFI connection.

Is it sound for this to happen? Or am I just playing outlandish mind games with myself?

By the way, my observations stem from the decreasing download rates listed by Chrome.

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What percentage of c are you moving it around at? ☺ – JdeBP Jan 17 '12 at 17:26
I am carrying my PC as I browse for books in the stacks, so I'm moving it a few meters here/there. – David Faux Jan 17 '12 at 20:12
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The wifi card on your computer is a radio. And just like a standard AM/FM radio, if you move the antenna around you change the signal strength; that is, you get more or less static (noise) along with the music (signal.)

The the more favorable the signal-to-noise ratio is, the faster the connection is and vice versa. Carry a portable radio around like you would the computer, set to an already weak station, and you can observe how the peculiarities of your home/office perturb a radio signal (be it wifi or FM.)

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And I thought is was a bad flux capacitor ;-> – Moab Jan 18 '12 at 1:06

Of course that could be the case, you won't get the same waves in every place in your room. That depends on a lot of factors, reflections on the walls, things in between the wifi accesspoint and your pc...

So yes, that is not only a mind game in your head.

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It could be the fault of you traveling into an area with a weaker WiFi signal. It is well known that you will have a lower quality and slower connection the more distance/obstructions there are between your computer and the access point.

It also could be something else that only appears to be affecting your connection speed. Some laptops can detect motion and will automatically stop the hard drive from spinning to protect it from damage from bumping it around (so the read/write heads don't hit the platters, for example). If you're downloading something and it stops the disk from spinning, it will delay your download, effectively lowering your reported download speed.

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It's normal for your wifi speed to drop down when you move away from the access point. Weaker signal = slower speed

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Although it seems obvious, moving away from the AP is the least of your problem in a library or complex indoor places. As said by bamboon, reflections and obstacles are far more important. – Ravachol Jan 17 '12 at 18:23

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