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Too fast internet speed overloading slow PCs?

Discussion in 'Networking' started by Technoid1, Aug 15, 2018.

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  1. Technoid1

    Technoid1 Thread Starter

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    I used to have DSLExtreme 18 Mbps, using Speedtest.net on ethernet I would get a steady 15-16 Mbps down, wifi was steadily 14-16 as well. I recently switched to Charter Spectrum 200 Mbps, and now I get 40-80 on ethernet and 11-18 on wifi.

    All my computers are pretty old, all run Windows XP, I have a Dell Dimension e510 with a Pentium 4 & 1 GB RAM, Dell Inspiron b130 laptop with a Celeron M & 1 GB, Dell Latitude x600 with a Pentium M & 632 MB RAM, And and IBM Thinkpad t40 with a Pentium M & 1 GB.

    Now I know that's slow by today's standards, I've heard many people say you can't even run XP with 1 GB. But I can play many games on the highest settings smoothly with the Dimension e510. I do a lot of 3D graphics stuff on it as well. It's quite powerful for it's age. I have a bit of a hard time believing that it can't handle a 200 Mbps connection.

    The laptops are all connected by wifi except for the b130. I tried the Thinkpad on ethernet as well, and I get similar speeds on all of them for ethernet and wifi. I run a speed test once and get 86 Mbps on ethernet, run it immediately again and get 30 Mbps. Upload ranges from .90 to 12 Mbps. Wifi gets 11 down once, 18 down the next, .90 up the next, 11 up the next.
    It also seems to run better when I have all of my devices connected and in use at once than it does with nothing connected but a PC directly to the modem or router.

    I also randomly get socket errors for both download and upload tests on speedtest.net, as well as it just getting stuck at 0 and not doing anything. I also use Ooma VOIP service, and people regularly tell me I'm cutting in and out and it frequently disconnects calls entirely.

    I've had technicians out multiple times, the first one said that it was because old computers buffered the connection, the second one said that it was because it was forcing 200 Mbps down the line to the PC and overloading it and maxing out the CPU and it was too much for it to handle.

    I called Charter after the two technicians came out the first time to complain about not getting the speeds I was paying for - As well as screwing things into 100+ years old wood on my house without even telling me, but that's a whole different story - they checked my connection and told me that they could see something wrong with the signal. The technician came out, managed to get 200 Mbps on his Windows 7 laptop, told us he couldn't find anything wrong when all he did was run speed tests, and said they'd have to charge me $45 bucks because they couldn't find anything wrong?! I called Charter to complain about that and they told me that they could still see something wrong with the signal!

    I thought buffering was in the days of DOS & Dial-up, and I thought that if the computer was too slow for 200 Mbps that instead of overloading it, it simply would pull less out of the connection, like how a 1,000 W PSU can handle 400 watts just fine, because all the components connected to it simply pull less than 1,000 watts.

    Or am I wrong? Even so, why is the speed varying so much? I get if it maxes out the CPU and the PC can't go over 80 Mbps, but why would I usually get 60-75 Mbps, sometimes 50, sometimes 40, sometimes 30, and then one time manage to almost get 90? Wouldn't it stay between 70 and 80 if that's all the PC could handle?

    The modem also gets quite hot, the "technician" who didn't even know what the System Idle "Pro"cess was and thought that was what was slowing down my internet said that was normal, but I don't know if I should believe him. The metal on the cable where it screws into the modem gets almost too hot to touch, that seems a little too hot to me but I don't know.

    How do internet speeds work? If my PCs are too slow, is it overloading them and that's why I can't get the speeds I'm paying for or even the speeds on wifi that I used to get when I was paying for a slower speed? I think it actually takes pages longer to load than it did before I switched, is that because it's giving it too much data at once? Should I look into getting software to throttle the bandwidth on my devices so that they can actually run faster because it won't max the CPU out anymore?
    Does Windows XP buffer stuff? Is there a way I can mess with that setting?

    I don't really expect to get exactly 200 Mbps with these older computers, but 80 seems a little lower than I was expecting. A technician is supposed to come out tomorrow to check out the problem the customer service rep saw again. They said it would be an experienced one. Hopefully this one will know how to work his iPhone and what a perfectly normal process that's even on Windows 7 is.

    Is there anything else I can do? Demand a discount because they didn't tell me they couldn't give me full service for Windows XP when I signed up? Anything?
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
  2. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    It's quite easy for me to believe because until you tell us about your networking equipment I am free to assume that your ethernet adapters are 10/100 Mbps and your wireless adapters are, at best, 802.11g and are struggling with the encryption on the newer router.


    Funny, but should be a fire-able offense.
     
  3. DaveA

    DaveA Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    I have to agree with Terry, it is your devices that are old and have slow running hardware.
     
  4. managed

    managed Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    Your hardware is probably old and could limit the speeds but the speed of the connections shouldn't change between tests that way. Also if the modem is hot to the touch it could be faulty.

    Try doing some speedtests on your computers when the tech is there so he can see the problems for himself.
     
  5. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    Bandwidth usage doesn't work the way you think it does. Just because there is 200 Mbit and your adapter is only 100 Mbit, doesn't mean the circuit will overwhelm your computer. Your PC will only pull as much data from a network circuit to a max of what network card is in the system. Even this has variables that affect how much data is being pulled. Things such as how the network card is interfacing to the bus that communicates to the CPU, whether there is any bus contention on the data path which the network card is communicating over, and if the CPU is occupied doing something else.

    There are also variables pertaining to your ISP and ultimately the Internet path and the end point (ie web server). If you really want to see what your network performance is on that PC, do a local file transfer between that PC and another one. Make sure both PCs are not doing anything but the file transfer.
     
  6. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    And even that can be throttled by the data fetch speed on the source and the data store speed on the destination.
     
  7. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    Exactly. Too many variables. There is a program used by many IT professionals to do throughput tests over the network called Ixia ixChariot that moves data back and forth with the landing zones in memory instead of disk to eliminate disk I/O variables.
     
  8. Technoid1

    Technoid1 Thread Starter

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    Thanks for all the replies!

    So if I got a newer network card, would that help? They all have 10/100 ethernet adapters and g or b/g wireless adapters besides for the Latitude x600, which says it has a Broadcom gigabit network adapter, but it says the network speed is 100 Mbps on the adapter and I get similar internet speeds through ethernet on it as I do everything else on ethernet. My router says it's ethernet is 1000 Mbps. There were only 10 and 100 options in the Broadcom's full/half duplex settings. Setting those to anything but automatic on all my PCs either made it unable to connect at all, or only get 4 or 7 Mbps. I'll try updating the driver, but from what I've read it sounds like it's normal for a 1000 option to not be in there and it should still get gigabit network speeds.

    So I was thinking that if it was overloading it, it could make it unstable and that could account for the varying speeds. But if it's only pulling what the network card is pulling, then it seems like it should stay around 70-80 then, right? And what about the frequent socket errors I keep getting?

    I read somewhere that speedtest.net's servers could hardly handle 50 Mbps speeds, is there something better to test a 100+ connection?

    Steam used to download games at only 2 Mbps at most when I was paying for 18, now it won't go over 6. I'll try contacting Steam about it and seeing if it's a setting or something, but it doesn't seem like it since it automatically went up when my speed increased.

    I talked to the manager over the supervisor here, who reassured me that those techs had 30 years of experience and were trained and knew more than the customer representatives that could find something wrong with the connection, and so those girls must be full of BS or something? Well he had me do a speedtest on speedtest.net using Spectrum's default server for my location, and I got 20-something Mbps, and he said that told him that was all my PC could handle, when I had managed to get almost 90 Mbps on other servers, Spectrum's has always been slow, unsurprisingly.

    The technician that came out last time and said he couldn't find anything wrong then made a note on our account saying that there were 28 T4 timeouts within an hour. I don't know what a T4 is, or what's a normal amount of timeouts for it. I also have strange entries on my router's log, some about XMO server timeouts, some about blacklisted devices already being blacklisted when I have no devices listed as blacklisted. It only shows so many entries and it does a ton of stuff even when no device is currently using it that it only manages to show what it's done for less than the past second. I don't know if anyone here can help me with those?

    I'm sorry, I guess I should've mentioned at the beginning that I have a Sagemcom Fast 5260 router & Arris Tm1602 modem, the modem is strangely not listed on Charter's website, don't know if it's not in use anymore or what.
     
  9. Technoid1

    Technoid1 Thread Starter

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    This is quite strange. I noticed that it seemed to get a better speed when I had a blank tab up than when I was watching the test run, but using Elite Fiber's server instead of Spectrum's, I managed to get a steady 87 Mbps when I have a blank tab up, and a steady 83 when I'm viewing the test. I even got 91 Mbps once, so that's about the speed I expect since my network card is only 100. However, it seems to randomly get 70 Mbps sometimes when I have another tab up, and 43 when I watch it. It also gets between 6 and 11 Mbps up, sometimes I get 83 down and 1 up, sometimes I get 85 down and 5 up, but usually when I get 87 down I get 11 up. When I got 20 down once, I had 10 up, then another time I got 73 down and 3 up. Not making much sense to me.
    Spectrum's server is very strange, I get an erratic 30-50 when I don't watch it and 15-37 when I do. I get 12-14 ms ping on Spectrum's and a 100% constant 20 on Elite's. I still get frequent socket errors on download tests as well as upload. Sometimes, speedtest.net would say my firewall was blocking port 8080 and it automatically picked me a speedtest.net server in Chicago (I'm in Missouri), which I got a whopping 18 ms ping on and got 91 Mbps down and 11 up on the very first test. No idea why Spectrum's is so awful. But then a few tests after that, it said 50 Mbps during the test, then suddenly dropped to 33 and got stuck on 0 up. Then it auto picked another non-Spectrum server that was in a different city about as far as Elite's. I got 26 ms and 89 down and 11 up once on that, then 72 down and 5 up.
    EDIT: I just tried speedtest.net's server in Chicago again, got 60 ms ping and 21 down and 1 up. ????

    I have no ports blocked or anything, it seems like if I did it would never work, not just sometimes.

    I tried transffering files between PC's and I think I only got 16 Mbps, but that doesn't seem right when I can get 90 on the internet on both of them.

    I'm wondering if the technician's devices that can get 200 Mbps on my connection will vary that much or not. Would it not just because it can get the speed it's supposed to? I don't see how it could be my devices making it vary when clearly they are capable of 91 Mbps speeds, so shouldn't it always be steady around there just like it used to always be a steady 14-16 when I paid for 18 Mbps?

    They also used Spectrum's server that I got 20's on to get the 200 they got. That also makes no sense to me because if that server can give 200 Mbps why aren't I getting around 90 on it? It won't even come close to 75. I wonder if they used Elite's server like I am if they'd get like 250+ Mbps or something. Although I am only paying for 200 so maybe it would just cap it there. One tech got 217 or something on his smartphone, the last tech got 190-something on his laptop. Don't know if the devices would make for that much of a difference. They've also told me that it isn't shared and so it shouldn't matter how many people in the neighborhood are using it at once.

    Sorry for double posting, and sorry for the long posts, I don't really know how else to tell you everything I can figure out (or not) about this. Thanks very much for helping!
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  10. managed

    managed Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    The best way to test is with a cable connection from the computer to the router with all other devices disconnected from the network. That eliminates the wireless stuff which can have different speeds depending on the hardware in your devices. Also the speed of the computers network card can change the speed you will get. Ideally test with a Gigabit network card which will be fast enough to show the true speed.

    As for the cable guy's comments they being economical with the truth !
    You should get close to the same speed each time you test if you do it as above.
     
  11. Technoid1

    Technoid1 Thread Starter

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    I researched my modem and found that it had a buggy chip, so I had them replace it with a Cisco DPC3216 and I'm pretty sure that fixed it.

    But just FYI (and to rant :)), I've alternated testing directly connected to the modem without a router, router with no other devices connected, and router with everything connected but only my PC in use. It doesn't make much of a difference. Modem-only seemed to lean towards 5 Mbps greater than it usually was, but it still varied from 60-80 using Elite's server.

    I had three guys out here Friday, the technician that originally installed it and damaged my house, the supervisor over him, and the manager over him. They ran speed tests on their laptop (the manager said techs don't have laptops) and got over 200 Mbps using Spectrum's server. I told them about how the modem was buggy and told them to replace it, they said they didn't hear anything about that but they could. Meanwhile, the manager said that the varying speeds wouldn't affect the download speed. :ROFLMAO: The varying speed is the download speed... And upload, and ping. He also tried to tell me that the download speed of my game client (it's a thing like Steam) was actually that server's upload speed.

    He then asked me if I did any uploading, like, you know, listening to music on Youtube...

    I don't actually own a gigabit network card besides for the Broadcom one in one of my laptops that's really only 100 Mbps. So to make sure that there wasn't anything wrong with my router, because it's supposed to be a gigabit, and that it was just the network card, I wanted to plug one of my cat 5 cables into their laptop and connect it to the router to see if it was actually 1 Gbps or not (or if the cable was the problem, too). In trying to ask them to do this, they tried to tell me that that was called AC on routers these days. I'm like, I'm not talking about wireless, I'm talking about ethernet...

    The supervisor tried to pull up a webpage that listed wireless connection speeds, but he couldn't find one and he said he couldn't remember what speed wireless G was. And I'm like, yeah, G's 54 Mbps. :p

    Anyway, so I told him to see what his network speed was (meaning to the router and not the actual internet speed), and he didn't know how to do that? That was the supervisor, but I'm pretty sure the manager and the technician were both clueless too. His laptop was Windows 7. I've never touched Windows 7 in my life, and I had to show him where to go to see his network speed?!!! And, not to brag (heh), but I knew exactly where it was, just from using XP. I had to show a different technican two days before that how to see what CPU and how much RAM I had in Windows XP. Surely it isn't that much different in Windows 7...

    Anyway, with no help from them besides for their laptop, I found that there was nothing wrong with my router, I got 1 Gbps to the router on ethernet with it, using my own old cat 5 cable.

    So they went to unscrew the cable cable :ROFLMAO: (Seriously though what do you call cable TV type cables?) from the back of my buggy Arris TM1602a modem, and went "Oh, look, the barrel's broken!" because I think the tech that installed it over-tightened it. The manager actually said something along the lines of "This was broken, but as you can see it was working correctly." If it was working correctly I wouldn't be having five different guys out here five different times...
    Granted, I doubt that was what was causing the problem, I bet it was the buggy chip, but still...

    So they finally get me a new modem, and the very first speed test I run - Voila! - I get 98 Mbps down when that never happened before. It's now a nice and steady 92-98. That's still using Elite's server because I still get 50 Mbps on Spectrum's. The manager was clueless about that as well. Surely that couldn't be my devices since I can get 98 elsewhere right?

    Even after getting it fixed, I'm seriously wondering about switching back to AT&T. At least their techs sure seemed like actual techs, and admitted that they couldn't fix a problem when they couldn't fix a problem. They also always gave me a different modem every time they came out first thing to make sure it wasn't that. I can't believe it took this much to get Charter to do the same...

    But hey, at least I can now "upload" music from Youtube, and not worry about my perfectly-working-correctly modem from burning my house down. This one only gets slightly warm under heavy usage.

    Thanks guys very much for your help!
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
  12. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    I'm more apt to believe it was the F connector/cable termination that was causing your speed issues. Per your question, the cable you're not sure what it is called is an RG6 coax cable. The way coax works is there is a single copper wire in the middle of the cable. The mesh/foil shielding is important in completing the circuit; as this mesh/foil mates up to the metal F connector. If the termination is not correct or damaged, you'll have signal performance issues which will affect overall data transmission rates.

    I really don't think switching of the modem affected your speeds.
     
  13. managed

    managed Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    Whatever the cause you're getting what you pay for now, well done. :)
     
  14. Technoid1

    Technoid1 Thread Starter

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    Well unfortunately, it looks like that may not have fixed the problem. Yesterday, I noticed that it seemed to be running slow again. Speedtests on Spectrum's server can't tell me anything, I still can't get above 55 on it. But I've normally gotten a steady 98 on Elite's speedtest.net server after they changed the modem. But now I'm getting around 55 on it, also. It could just be that server, but I'm only getting about that on other servers as well. I got 91 on AT&T's, but that's it. Is there a more reliable way to run speed tests? If I bring this up to Charter's technicians, they won't care because it isn't on their own server, and their own server got 50 even when I got 98 steadily on other servers, so without using other servers I can't even tell if something's wrong with it, and if it looks like there is, there's no telling whether it's just something up with that particular server.

    I'm still considering switching back to some company that uses AT&T's techs, even if they usually don't show up, at least they are knowledgeable and and not rude. If these guys have to come out again, I think I'm canceling. It sure sounds to me that the problem isn't at my house, anyway. Do you have any idea why I'd only be able to get 50 Mbps on their server when they can get 200+? Shouldn't mine be the max I've gotten with other servers?

    I'd just buy a gigabit ethernet card and see what difference that made, but my desktop isn't working right now. Would some cheap thing like this: https://www.ebay.com/itm/300-Mbps-D...884993?hash=item441ff45f41:g:yMYAAOSwwTlbF1Yc work? I know my USB 2.0 ports wouldn't get 1 Gbps, but would it be enough for 200 Mbps? Is 5Ghz wifi reliable enough to test on, or would I have to get an ethernet adapter? Those are over $10 and I'd have more use for a 5Ghz wifi adapter if I end up staying with Charter than an ethernet one, and since I might be switching I'm not sure it's worth buying an ethernet one just to test.

    I found this test, I don't know if it tells you anything? http://vac.visualware.com/report.ht...0.0&voip_dord=100.0&voip_dls=0.0&voip_mos=4.2
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
  15. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    USB 2.0 has maximum theoretical bandwidth of 480 Mbps so I think that the answer is 'yes.'


    Yes if the wireless router and wireless adapter are good and reliable and there is a clear path between them of about 10 to 15 feet and there is no wireless interference. This paragraph is not meant to contradict Allan's post # 10.
     
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