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Our home has a reasonably fast internet connection, but a while back one of our laptops (running Vista, connecting over wifi) has been suffering from slowed down internet speeds (about 1/3rd of the speed it should have) when everyone else (using wifi and ethernet) has full speed.

I always thought is was a problem with the laptop itself, but after buying a new laptop (different brand, still with Vista) the problem persisted. Could this be a problem with Vista (these laptops are the only machines with Vista)?

None of the other laptops have been suffering from slow internet. What could cause this problem, and how can I fix it?

Edit: Just to clarify, this isn't caused by our ISP throttling us or someone else downloading a large file. Even with the problematic laptop the only turned on computer, its connection is still slow.

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Who's your provider? Also, do you download torrents or anything like that? Because those can slow your Internet connection down quite a bit (especially with a provider like Comcast). But either way, I'd recommend you try OpenDNS, it's much faster: opendns.com –  Sasha Chedygov Jul 19 '09 at 3:38
    
@musicfreak: Whatever OpenDNS might do for you, it certainly won't help increase download speeds. –  Greg Hewgill Jul 19 '09 at 3:45
    
@Greg: Yes, I know, but I like to recommend it where I can. :) –  Sasha Chedygov Jul 19 '09 at 4:30
    
@Greg: Actually when I used Verizon DSL, it was very over-sold. The DNS they provided would be so slow to resolve names during peak times (not 3am to 6am) that it would time out on some names like say verizon.com. Switching to another ISPs DNS several hops away made browsing seem so much faster. I mean imagine if Google maps' 4 static sub-domains for image tiles took 35 seconds to resolve each, and one of them came back as unresolved/timed-out. Of course this would affect all of the machines using the default DNS, and is likely not the cause for the odd one out. –  dlamblin Jul 19 '09 at 8:31

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Because it's not a big truck.
It's a series of tubes.

And with wifi, there's not even tubes in the series.

Seriously, your problem could be any of the following, and we need more info about your router, about how all the computers connect, about all the computer specs and amount of use, and about what you did when you changed from one laptop to an other with "the same problem."

Lets assume all the computers are on the same wireless connection. If the old and new laptops are 802.11b while the other computers are 802.11g that's a simple explanation. Even if it were reversed, it might explain it, because b has a little more range than g and maybe you're using the old and new laptops a tad far from the router.

Otherwise the old and new laptops could be always in the same location. There could be interference just there. Maybe from another appliance, or some wiring in the wall to that room. Common culprits are: Microwaves, Compressors (in an Air Conditioner or Refrigerator), fans (in anything from an air-filter, to a plasma TV), paper shredders, electric water boilers and in-sink garbage disposals.

It could be the OS or software. You might have replicated the same software to the new machine and been stuck with the same problem. E.G. I've found some virus scanners to run so frequently (daily) for so long (4 hours) while thrashing the disk so much, that general downloading that gets cached to disk or saved is definitely 1/4 regular speed.

Or it could be that all your computers are not treated equally by the router. It might be doing Quality of Service filtering, or it might be lacking proper QoS. In one case it might think that computer is low priority, or in the other case it should be throttling the up-streams of the other machines so that they allow ACK packets through uncontested.

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What kind of router? Wireless B routers have had problems with Vista.

Any security suites running? Mcafee/etc can definitely slow down your connection.

Is this a WAN only problem, ie, can you copy files to/from other computers on your LAN without any problems?

If possible I'd try a speed test on both the vista laptop and a non-vista laptop and see how they compare.

Assuming a reasonably powerful computer ram/processor wise Vista shouldn't really be much slower than XP.

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Just in case you have a bandwidth-hungry process on your laptop, try NetLimiter or some similar application. It's a sort of task manager for bandwidth usage, and not only will it give you a clearer picture of bandwidth usage, it will also allow you to limit this usage per process.

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I've never had these problems with Vista machines on my home network/Wifi. Has this computer a special configuration, is it perhaps connected to a VPN and all the traffic is routed through the VPN? Normally you can change this behaviour in the VPN network settings.

Since it happens on a new computer, I suspect a configuration problem or a problem with the wifi access point/router. You could try to upgrade your router's firmware (disclaimer: careful, when you do that - you could end with a bricked device, bla bla...)

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I am starting to suspect it is a faulty router. We have had (and still experience) really, really strange issues (such as adobe.com refusing to load) in the past so I think I will just buy a new router. –  David Pearce Jul 19 '09 at 7:32
    
Before you buy a new one, try to upgrade the firmware. –  splattne Jul 19 '09 at 8:04

Because you did not say if you'd tried attaching it to the wired network or other troubleshooting this is kind of a long shot. But as far as I'm aware there is Auto-Tuning on the network devices. Here is a nice write up on how to disable this. After running only internet speeds and not doing a lot of internal traffic the overall network speeds were down to below what my DSL speeds were after about a week of using my Vista laptop. Once completed my intranet and internet speeds were were back up to snuff.

You may also want to check for newly installed software like firewalls and anti-virus. As already stated these can wreak havoc on your PC speeds.

Also it should be noted that despite your wireless potocol A, B, G, N, all of them are going to be much faster than your typical home internet connection. Granted, if your hardly able to get a network conection due to being 100's of feet away you will have slowness but that does nto appear to be the case.

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