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How to Troubleshoot Internet Connection Speed

Who didn’t have problems with the Internet speed at least once? OK, many of us, but as an IT professional I always meet and talk to the people who did have problems with their Internet Speed.
I hate to be run through standard procedure, which by the way I know by hearth, (I used to work in an ISP call center). You probably hate it too. If your problem is the Internet connection you will probably have to talk to an agent anyway, but, (with the help of my article), you will know from the start what’s wrong with your Internet connection.

Step 0 – Never Assume

First think I have learned in the Call Center was to never assume. Many times, when people call the Help Line they have a “pretty good idea” of what’s the problem. Usually they are wrong. Don’t do this mistake, do not presume or, do not presume without checking the facts. We hate the Call centers for making us do stupid things, check things that we don’t need to. The truth is that in most of the cases we overlook things and going by the book helps.
When we open up a browser and there is an error message “Page not found” we immediately assume that the connection is to blame. In fact many times this is just a temporary problem of our home page site. Try a different address to see if the connections is down or the home pages’s website is down. Try google.com for instance or ibm.com, or bing.com; if these don’t work it could be the connection

Step 1 – Try a reboot

Almost every time a reboot solves the problem. This might sound anecdotic but it actually works in many cases. Reboot the computer, reboot the modem, reboot the router behind the modem.

Isolate the problem
First of all we need to know that the problem is not in the network.

  • Use a computer that you are sure is not infected by any Mallware. Connect it directly to the DSL device, cable modem, or other type of modem.
  • Do not use the wireless; connect the computer with a network cable. This way you are testing the connection and nothing else.
  • As already mentioned, you need to make sure your computer works fine and is not infected. Use antivirus and antispyware if needed.
  • If you are not sure about the health of your computer you can always boot from a Live Linux CD. On the Live CD you will have a browser and other useful tools.
  • Once the system is up and you are connected to the Internet, test your connection with one of the free online services. Google-it and you will find many online DSL speed test websites. If the speed is OK then, the problem is in your computer, or your network, go to step 4.
  • Step 2 – Modem troubleshoot

    If the DSL speed test failed, (no connection or slow speed), you have a few things to try before calling the ISP
    Usually, for a DSL connection, the telephone line is shared with another device, a fax or a phone. Some of us have a separate line for DSL or they don’t even have a phone line, they only have a dry loop. If you don’t understand any of these you most likely don’t have it.

  • If you share the DSL line with another device you need to connect this second device through a DSL filter. I must stress: EVEN IF IT WORKED before without it, you must have the filter.
    DO NOT run the DSL line through a filter, you’ll only break your Internet Connection, only the phone or the fax, or Credit Card processing device, etc…
  • Check all the physical connections of the Modem Device, R6 or RJ11 or the RJ45 connectors and make sure that they are tight they don’t have the locking pins broken, etc…
  • For a DSL connection the length of the phone cable could be critical, so use the original cable, (the short one), provided with the modem at least for the testing period. The reason is because the length of the pair from the CO to your place can be at its length limits, it happens more often than you think. If you pass this limit your connection stability will be penalized. Another reason is because a long cable is more difficult to examine for defects than a short one.
    If needed, use a longer network cable to connect a device in the house. The network cable, (UTP – unshielded twisted pair), can go up to 100m (300 feet).
  • Some electric devices can interfere with the modem; avoid placing it near such devices.
  • Look at the modem’s lights. If the DSL light is off there is no service.
  • If there is no connection at all, (No DSL light), check the phone to see if you have a dial tone.
  • If the modem connects to a separate wall jack bring a phone and check if you have a dial tone, you might have a dial tone in the bedroom and not in the office.
  • Similarly check if there is TV service, if there is no TV service then most likely it is a bigger problem at your cable provider.
  • Look for the DSL filter as described above.
  • Check the LAN light on the modem. If the LAN LED is off your computer’s network adapter might be defective, or disabled, or the UTP cable that connects the computer with the modem might be defective. There is a chance that the modem’s LAN interface is defective.
  • If you have a solid DSL light, (check the modem’s manual, manufacturers have different signalling for established DSL connection), and you don’t have a connection check the password for the connection.
  • Step 3 – Connect to Your Modem’s Administration Interface

    All of the modern modems have a WEB Administration Interface. The admin Interface is usually accessible via a WEB browser. It lets you configure the authentication and other different settings.
    In order to administrate your modem you need the following:

  • The administrator’s password to access your router. If you don’t have it you can perform a hardware reset using the reset button located on the modem. You need to use a pin to press the button. This will reset all of your modem’s setting, including the admin password, to the factory defaults.
  • The IP address of the router. If the modem has its DHCP server started, (by default yes), it will lease your computer an IP address and provide it with other IP configuration settings such as: “Default Gateway”, netmask, and DNS. The important part is the gateway’s IP address as this is your modem’s internal interface and this is what you need to access your router’s web Interface. You can find all of this information by issuing the following command in a command prompt window with elevated rights, (admin credentials):
    ipconfig /all
    After issuing the command you will get a screen similar to this one. Note that the “Default Gateway” is the address of your modem.
    In a web browser type: http://IPADDRESS where IPADDRES is your router.
    For instance if your router’s (gateway) IP address is the address you are looking for is:
  • Once connected to the web interface you need to enter the authentication details. If you don’t have them you have to call your ISP which will make a reset after security verification.
  • If all of the previous steps did not solve the problem call your ISP. They might ask you to redo all of the steps above and maybe more. Be patient, they are just doing their job, they never assume, or they shouldn’t. The second they let themselves drawn into your speculation they make the same mistake as you do.

    Step 4 – Correct the problems behind the modem

    If the connection is OK the problem is behind the modem. This problem could be anything in your network.
    Some suggestions are:
    The router – many times the router can slow down your network. Try a reboot. If that doesn’t work try another model or another manufacturer. Do an upgrade of the firmware. Check the router’s configuration and try a default stripped down configuration.
    The computer – most of the times, the slow performance over Internet is actually the poor performance of a computer. This is a dense material that is treated in a separate article which you can find here: How to Refresh your Computer speed (coming soon).
    The network – many times a poor network will penalize al sorts of network traffic not only Internet. This makes the subject of another article here: How to Troubleshoot Your LAN, (Local Area Network). (coming soon)

    Ask me any technical question in the comments area so I can update the document or answer you directly on the comments. I would like to make this article as useful as possible.

    How to use 301 Redirect for moved or missing pages

    What is 301 redirect?

    301 redirect is a method of redirecting pages on your website to other pages on your site or elsewhere.

    Why would you need to redirect content?

    It is a method to retain search engine rankings for a page. If a page has previously been ranked by search engines and you changed the file name during a major redesign, or moved some of the content to another website the ranking is lost if you just move the page. If instead you do a 301 redirection the old ranking will be passed on to the new page.
    Another use is to redirect traffic for deleted content somewhere on your website so that the traffic is not lost. Sometimes you need to remove outdated content and since you are still receiving traffic for those pages you would like to keep those visits.

    What means a 301 Redirection?

    301 redirect means “moved permanently”. When a search engine accesses a file marked as “Moved Permanently” it will note the new address and consider the new location as the valid one, passing on the ranking for the new page.

    How to do a 301 Redirection

    Apache 301 Redirection
    Look for the .htacces file on the root of your website’s directory.
    If there isn’t one create it. On Windows you might have difficulties to create a file with an empty name and only the extension. But once the file created, for instance on the host operating system you can edit the file using notepad or wordpad.
    The simplest method is to place the following line into your .htaccess file:
    redirect 301 /old-directory/old.htm http://www.mywebsite.com/new.htm
    Don’t add the whole address on the first part, (the www) as the server uses its root directory as the referral point and not the http address.
    Copy paste the statement below and modify it to reflect your needed redirection.
    Upload the file on the server or overwrite the old file if you use direct access.
    Test the redirection.

    What if you want to redirect all of your files to another address? Fortunately you don’t need to add a redirect for each of your files. You can use the Apache’s URL Rewriting Engine module, which can handle complex redirections using regular expressions.

    Redirect for a Moved Website

    A rule that will redirect ALL of the files on your web server to another address:
    redirectMatch 301 ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com

    A rule that will redirect http://mywebsite.com to http://www.mywebsite.com for SEO purposes:
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^mywebsite\.com
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.mywebsite.com/$1 [R=permanent,L]

    Redirect to a Different File Extension

    A rule to redirect your .htm pages to .php pages:
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteRule (.*).htm$ /$1.php

    Redirect an Entire Directory

    Redirect An Entire Directory/Folder to a single page. You got rid of the old content and you want to keep your visitors and keep the ranking of your old pages.
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteRule ^old-directory/(.*) http://www.mywebsite.com/new-directory/ [R=301,L]

    You moved content in another folder or on another webpage and you would like to redirect visitors to exactly the same page at the new address.
    Another use of this, is if your test site got indexed by search engines and is ranking better or the same as the regular website. It happened to me… Somehow my robots file got overwriten
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteRule ^old-directory/(.*) http://www.mywebsite.com/new-directory/$1 [R=301,L]

    Redirection Troubleshooting

    Make sure that you leave a single space between the different elements of the statement.
    Make sure you have “RewriteEngine on” on your .htaccess file, without it your rules will not function.
    Regex Tip:
    The content between the round brackets is kept in memory and called when needed with the syntax $1 for the content of the first bracket, $2 for the content of the second bracket, etc.

    What if I don’t have an Apache server? I use IIS.
    The alternative for IIS is ISAPI_Rewrite for IIS. ISAPI_Rewrite gives you all the nice features that you have with Mod_Rewrite.

    More on the Rewriting Engine module and the regex here:

    Social bookmarking as a way to increase your Website’s traffic

    What is Social Bookmarking?

    Social bookmarking is a great way to improve your website’s ranking and traffic in Search Engines.

    SB are websites that provide subscribers a way to save their bookmarks on a central server and retrieve them from any computer. The nice thing about it is that you can share some of those bookmarks with other users, based on interests or friendship. Google and the other Search Engines take these SB sites very seriously because that is the user’s choice and they want to provide users with the best service. It’s obvious that the more users bookmark your site the better your ranking.

    Improve your rankings using SB

    -First create an account to all major Social Bookmarking services and bookmark your own site.
    -Second ask your friends to signup for these websites and bookmark your site. This should be done personally by all your friends. You can provide them with a list of keywords to be used in the description text. Your friends can recommend your website to other friends, etc… This is something that the SEO spammers do, but they do it unnaturally by spamming. The rest of us do it as a social activity. It is not recommended to use multiple accounts to the same Social Bookmarking site as is considered spam. And the Search engines will figure out is spam, by matching the description for all the fake accounts, and penalize your rankings. However if the description is different, there is no way that the Search Engine figure out that you cheated.
    Be an active participant and give back the community, show your interest, it’s the best way to attract visitors.
    Place a navigation bar on your site with links to all major Social Bookmarking sites.
    What would be a good list of Social Bookmarking sites? Here are a few of them:

    I should probably mention that stumble upon is a great tool not necessarily for rankings, but for free traffic. If you are getting voted positively by the community you are being pushed in their rankings and they will send invitation to people with an expressed interest in that area. If you have a good site that you think it deserves more traffic and better rankings in SE send me an email with the link and the suitable keywords.

    If you have an idea and you would like to blog it here, please contact me.