We live in a world where vast amounts of data can be sent and received with the touch of a button. We often take this capability for granted until a problem arises and we are no longer able to access a certain file or stream a high definition movie. Often times we become quite frustrated at how slow our computer seems to be operating. Computers are similar to any other machine; without proper maintenance their performance will steadily decline. This lag time may be the result of internal errors or be caused by external variables. Let us have a look at some of the common causes for poor performance.
It should be pointed out that before examining any external factors, one should determine whether there may be any internal or user-generated causes. For example, if many different windows are open which are constantly updating themselves, much virtual memory may be used in this process. This can be common with flash-oriented websites such as Facebook or YouTube. Similarly, if a user is attempting to download a very large file, speeds can be adversely affected. If none of these seem to be the case and a virus scan has detected no abnormalities, then chances are the problem is due to conditions outside the user’s immediate control.
There are times when the internet itself can cause a great deal of issues in regards to the speed of an operating system. For example, a website which is composed of movie files or flash presentations will naturally be slower than a mainly text-based site such as a blog. If a site is loaded with advertisements, chances are that these ads will refresh at certain intervals. This can cause a pronounced delay when executing specific online requests. If a website is inundated with many visitors, the page may take longer to respond or even freeze entirely. For flash sites, the time of day and number of people browsing can also have a direct effect. Many people accessing a site at the same time can put great strain on the site’s server capacity.
A server’s location can also have an impact on browsing speeds. For example, accessing a server on the other side of the world will cause a delay in transmission and response. Along with the geographic location of a server, the placement of a wireless router may also be to blame. Computers which are located far from these routers can experience slower connection speeds.
There are many examples when a server is either down or its activity is severely curtailed due to routine site maintenance. Most websites will let the visitor know if they have any maintenance issues, but if an unexpected technical problem arises, there may be no notification.
Finally, when unforeseen worldwide events occur and millions of people across the globe are searching to be kept up to date on a specific topic, overall network speed can grind to a halt.
Performing a Speed Test
It is highly recommended that a speed test be performed. This is a very important step because although unbeknownst to some, not all broadband speeds are the same. Not all companies provide the same amount of coverage and data per second. Not only not only is it recommended that you perform a speed test to ascertain any on-going maintenance issues, but by finding a better provider a user may be able to optimise download speeds while discovering that money can be saved by switching to a more relevant provider.
These speed tests are free and finish within a short period of time. They can help not only in determining the exact nature of performance problems but are also able to give the user an unbiased snapshot of local providers to choose from. With ever-increasing internet traffic, a speed test is essential to ensure that the best connection is being utilised.
Nathan Morgan has been an IT professional for 14 years. His work is currently focused on Linux servers. He has encryption experience including the deployment of True Crypt and similar packages, and detailed knowledge of document scanning solutions to transform off-line archives into accessible digital data.