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Having low internet speeds. is it my computer?

Last response: in Networking
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July 4, 2012 10:59:28 PM

i have an old dell dimension 2400 series which has been heavily modified (from what im told). it has 1 gig, 16 mb of RAM, so i'm pretty sure it isnt a problem caused by my computer ( it runs great, just not during MMORPGs which is where it counts for me) anyway, the problem is that i have a 50 mbps connection. my mothers laptop (hp pavilion with 2 mb less RAM than my pc :/ ) hits about 20-30 mbps on speedtest.net. my computer (keep in mind that it runs really well despite its age) only gets from 8 to 16. significant unexplained difference. i'm connected through a netgear n300 wireless adapter which says it handles up to 300 mbps, and the laptop uses its built in wireless adapter. what could be the problem and how could i fix it? thanks.
July 5, 2012 1:28:00 AM

If you have a really poor wireless connection it could be an issue -- like being too far from the router, or more likely interference sources.

Try running inSSIDer (freeware app) to look at the wireless signals, their channels, and signal strength: http://www.metageek.net/products/inssider/

Just changing your radio channel could help fix the problem.

Also, despite having an N wireless router, are you sure that your laptop wireless adapter is N and not G? Also, which security do you use -- WEP would slow down your speed significantly so WPA2 would be best.
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July 5, 2012 9:08:01 PM

hope i wasnt unclear, the laptop isnt the one having the issue, its my desktop. im using a wpa encryption, and when i try to use wpa2 it wont connect at all. from what i read though a wpa encryption can support up to 54mbps and my connection is supposed to be 50mbps (as i stated earlier). and an nwireless router? i was referring to my USB network adapter which connects wirelessly to my arris modem (same thing?). and i know nothing of radio channels or how to change them. i apologize for how little i know, im trying to learn as much as i can as im trying to rebuild my computer. do you think my processor could play a part in the connection speed or no? im running an original celeron processor. dont judge me lol. oh, and if you dont mind explaining, what is the difference in N and G. ive seen it mentioned but im not sure what to make of it. all i can gather is that g is slower?
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July 5, 2012 11:35:35 PM

I doubt that it is related to your processor. I have a few old test machines that have N usb adapters and they work fine.

If you mix N and G on anything but the latest routers (with simultaneous dual band) you will only get G speed on all devices. While 54Mbps is the stated speed for G, that's the theoretical maximum and you will not achieve that with real data transfers due to network overhead and signal loss.

N and G both use the 2.4GHz frequency band, and N uses MIMO (multiple input multiple output) and wider channels (40MHz instead of overlapping 22MHz) along with aggregating frames to allow a higher maximum data rate. N can also use the 5GHz frequency band and that is very useful to keep your speeds up -- if you also have older G devices the N network will default to the slower G speeds. One way to avoid that is to have one of the newer routers that provides for simultaneous dual band use, so the N devices can operate at higher speed on 5GHz while the slower G devices use the 2.4GHz band. Of course your N network adapter has to also support 5GHz to benefit from that.

One other thing is that G wireless only has three non-overlapping channels: 1, 6, and 11. All of the other channels have some overlap. Almost every router should allow you to change your channel to avoid interference from other nearby networks. Unfortunately, lots of other stuff also causes interference at 2.4GHz: cordless phones, baby monitors, microwave ovens, wireless speakers and headphones. Also the physical layout of the rooms and distance to the router will affect your signal.

To use WPA2, preferably with AES encryption, you must have both the network adapter and router supporting and configured to use WPA2/AES. If you use other security it limits your network speed to a 54Mbps maximum speed limit.
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July 6, 2012 12:16:05 AM

well my signal is fine. its actually at 100%. so do you suggest i try to get my encryption changed to wpa2? and if thats the case, then how should i go about that? and i know you said to try and change my v=channel to one that doesnt overlap, but how exactly would i do that. thank you for your time man, and im sorry i have so many questions. ill go research the functionality of that arris modem.
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July 6, 2012 11:55:49 AM

You need to download a copy of your router manual and find the configuration page that allows you to change your wireless radio channel. First run inSSIDer ( http://www.metageek.net/products/inssider/ ), a free app, to determine which channel is the least used.

Depending on your OS, in Windows 7 go into Network Control panel > manage wireless adapters > properties and then the security tab and select WPA2 personal and AES -- then look at your router manual again and go into the configuration and change it to the same. Make sure to change all computers to WPA2 and also to write down the password you use in the router so you can enter it in your computers and future devices.
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