Help: Unbeliveably Slow Internet

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar morat20 says:

    1) Reboot your modem and router. (Turn them off, unplug them, wait a minute or two, then plug them back in).
    2) Did this fix it?
    2a) Contact Comcast and have them run a test on your line.
    3) If they find nothing, find an online speed-test and see if you’re getting the bandwidth you’re paying for, then complain again.

    My first suspicion, having used the words ‘Comcast’ and ‘apartment’, is that if there is no hardware issue, then you’re suffering from congestion. That is, Comcast’s pipe to your apartment block has too many users, and you’re getting throttled.

    If you find you have fewer problems in the middle of the night or during work hours, and that it is at it’s worst when people tend to be home, that’d be the problem.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to morat20 says:

      I’ve rebooted the modem and router a few times.

      You are probably right that it is throttle/congrestion.

      I just ran a test. My ping is 35ms. My download speed is .49Mpbs, and my upload speed is 5.70 Mpbs.Report

      • <Cable guy lecture mode>
        With an upload of 5.70 Mbps, chances are it’s not congestion or throttling. My guesses would be (a) analog problem in the network and your cable modem can barely hear the downstream signal or (b) parameters in the cable modem proper have become corrupted. Comcast technical support can reset the parameters remotely (you can’t, and corrupt parameters persist across powering off). They can also query the modem about its automatic settings and a downstream analog signal problem should stick out like a sore thumb. Getting a competent person at technical support who knows how to do all of this can be a challenge.

        The usual home checks are to replace any coax splitters in your apartment with pass-throughs instead, in order to eliminate those loss/input leakage sources. Check all connections — the proper tightness is finger-tight, then a quarter-turn with wrench. You can try replacing any lengths of coax that belong to you — coax can fail in funny ways that will affect high frequencies (used for download) much more than lower frequencies (used for upload). The worst thing about being in an apartment is that there may be some coax that belongs to the building rather than to you or Comcast.

        Seriously, start with Comcast technical support. Maybe two or three times, separated by a couple hours. Some of them are competent.
        </Cable guy lecture mode>Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I called Comcast directly. They turned off the wifi in their modem because it apparently interferes with airports.Report

      • It’s easy for me to say, but… here’s how I see the situation. Call Comcast. Tell them that your download speeds aren’t anywhere close to what you’re paying for, and your speed tests against the Comcast speed test site confirm it. Demand that they come fix the problem. It’s your $100 or so at risk, so like I say, easy for me to say. If they’ve screwed up and fix your problem, it costs you nothing. If not, you find out if there’s something wrong with your — or your apartment building’s — wiring. I’ll buy you a pint of a nice microbrew if the problem is with your gear. You buy me a pint if it turns out they can prove you’ve been downloading illegal stuff and they rate-limited you as a result.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I am not really downloading anything except for work related stuff and official updates, etc.

        The connection is working much better now that I called. My main issue was with netflix being slow and needing to buffer. Same with youtube.Report

      • And are those still an issue?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Hard to say because they are not very big documents. Youtube is working fine for now. Also comcast said they can’t do an internet speed test because I use an airport.Report

      • F*ck that. Here. Isn’t going to pay the least bit of attention to whether you use an Airport or not.Report

      • Hmmm… Something seems to have eaten the link, or it could be that extra glass of wine at dinner.

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I’m having a lot of issues, but they are all with DNS. The browser I use (Chrome) reports them as “contacting host”. There are long waits for it. Modern web pages pull in stuff from lots and lots of sites, so I have a long wait for every damn one. Now I use Google’s DNS servers, so it seems really odd that they should be slow to respond. They claim that they have tons of capacity.

    But IP addresses are typically cached for a while, so after the first load of a page, I’m usually good for a while.

    Speaking to your problem, you probably are being throttled, and the throttler is smart enough to unthrottle if you are doing a speed test.

    However, 5.7Mbps would be good for DSL, but seems slow for a cable link. One of my DSL lines gets that much. But I don’t use cable broadband, so I don’t really know.Report

    • Somewhere here I have an old piece of Perl code that I wrote that collects latency data for the various steps of downloading items for a Web page — DNS, establishing server connection, downloading content. I wrote it when I was doing this kind of thing professionally, and some truly bizarre things can happen. I found one instance where 1-in-10 DNS requests were simply dropped. The timeout before most OS’s local DNS service will repeat the request is about 30 seconds. And most browsers won’t do a damned thing with content they may have already obtained while they’re waiting for a DNS response.

      If you’re interested in investigating, I can dig the old stuff out, make sure it still works, and we can arrange something.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      Sadly, using Google DNS can slow you down in unpredictable ways. It is not a flaw with their DNS service, which I am sure is fine. It is this: Akamai (and perhaps other CDNs) tries to guess your location on the Internet according to the IP address of the DNS server you are using. The reason they do this is because they have to make the decision as the deliver the DNS response from their infrastructure, which does not contain your host IP. Once your browser connects to the provided IP, they don’t have a chance to re-route you to a closer edge server.

      If you use your IPSs DNS server, they can do an okay job at this. If you use a global service such as Google’s, all bets are off.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to veronica d says:

        I remember reading a piece on this, @veronica-d Thanks for the reminder. Sigh. I guess I’ll try the old DNS servers – though they weren’t doing all that great, either.Report

  3. Avatar Peter Moore says:

    Download is a tenth the speed of upload??? Then I have to agree with morat20: it sounds like a comcast problem

    But if your macbook pro is old enough to have an ethernet port or you have a usb->ethernet or thunderbolt->ethernet adapter, then just be sure I’d try the speed test again with the macbook attached directly to the airport. If there is a significant difference, then you may have interference problems. Evidently Mac OS has a built-in wife analyzer that might help in that caseReport

  4. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    “Mac OS has a built-in wife analyzer that might help in that case”

    No need to specify case; universally applicable.Report

    • Bob receives a text from his next-door neighbor: “I can’t stand it any more, I’ve got to confess: I’ve been tapping your wife, day and night, any time I need some.” Bob gets out his handgun, goes to the kitchen, and shoots his wife dead on the spot. Then he gets another text from his neighbor: “F*cking autocorrect. WIFI, not wife.”Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy says:

    You’re in an apartment, right? Could you be getting interference from another unit? Our baby monitor causes havoc with our wifi, even though it is not supposed to.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

      This is surprisingly important, and is one of the best arguments against municipal wifi. You have a local network that’s working fine. Your city puts a wifi base station up on the pole on one side of you, your neighbor on the other side fires up an ancient 802.11a link to it, your network’s performance goes to hell in a hand basket. Under current FCC rules about unlicensed spectrum, you’re just SOL.Report

  6. Avatar aaron david says:

    Do you have new neighbors? As this is something that just started up, I would start thinking about things that coincide with that time. Also, mentally keep track of times of day that it gets better or worse, as that can help point out what the problem is.

    Other than that, follow @michael-cain instructions, he seems to know what is what.Report

    • Avatar morat20 in reply to aaron david says:

      As this is something that just started up, I would start thinking about things that coincide with that time.
      Always a good point. A few days ago, my Android phone went…nuts. Couldn’t send or receive SMS, but could MMS. (The home screen also got hosed and had to be reset — the icons for phone, contacts, SMS, web — all disappeared and couldn’t be gotten back).

      Turned out it was an update to a battery widget. It had gone wonky right after some updates had gone through, so I uninstalled the battery widget (just a little icon that shows % charge and if you touch it, it brings up the usage statistics). I have *NO* idea how that managed to screw up text messaging.Report

  7. Avatar Hoosegow Flask says:

    I have FIOS. My internet always ranks very fast on speedtest, but sometimes trying to actually use it is dog slow, especially for certain content providers like Netflix and Youtube. Turn out that Verizon is throttling traffic to those providers. The throttling can be bypassed by using a VPN ( I tried this myself and almost always get significantly better results with Netflix using the VPN. Unfortunately, the VPN limits overall speed to a fraction of what I’m paying for, so I don’t leave it on all the time.Report

  8. Avatar kenB says:

    If I had posting privileges here, I would create an OTC post right above this titled “Help: Unbelievably Low Paycheck”.

    Which is one of many good reasons why I don’t have posting privileges here.Report

  9. Avatar Glyph says:

    I blame North Korea. But then, I always do.Report