Why internet slow
July 31, 2009 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Frequently, web pages time out and won't load--why is this happening?

Now, I have a 512 kbps connection, which isn't that fast, but I'm pretty sure it shouldn't be that slow. I just got this internet service, and I've been able to download torrents fairly quickly. No, that's not the problem--I turn my torrent software off and it's still quite slow.

It's not my firewall. I also already tried opening more ports on firefox.

Oh yes, and I'm on a PC with Windows XP. And I'm not terribly knowledgeable. Any help will help.
posted by Citizen Premier to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried unplugging the router and then plugging it back in? That's usually what fixes a slow connection for me.
posted by theichibun at 7:57 PM on July 31, 2009

Is there a pattern to which websites or when they time out, based on the little status bar on the bottom of your browser? It could be specific DNS issues.
posted by rokusan at 8:06 PM on July 31, 2009

Best answer: There could be any number of problems; your core Internet connection, your router, your DNS server, the webapp itself. Does the problem happen with all web pages? Or just some?

Open a DOS command shell (via Start/Accessories, or Start and type "cmd"). Run the command "ping -n 100 www.metafilter.com". What does that tell you? If your connection is healthy, it should print out 100 lines all the same and then say a bunch of statistics including "Sent = 100, Received = 100". If some are lost it suggests your actual Internet connection has a problem.

Turn off bittorrent. Then reset your router. Do web pages all work reliably? If so then your router is old and has common bugs that bittorrent triggers.

If you're comfortable configuring your own DNS, add an easy to remember DNS server like to the list of DNS servers. It's at worst harmless, and at best may work around a DNS problem.
posted by Nelson at 8:12 PM on July 31, 2009

Response by poster: Nelson, the problem happens with all webpages at once. I did the ping test like you said, and none were lost.

It could be the router; I bought a re-wrapped one for cheap at Fry's.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:27 PM on July 31, 2009

If youre talking about what i think youre talking about, mine does that too. Randomly, it will just no longer load web pages. From any site. It has the little loading bar at the bottom but does NOTHING.

I close all open windows and restart IE and then it works fine again. No other suggestions, i dont know why mine does it either, it seems to get "stressed" if i open too many tabs or something and give up.

If this is completely different, sorry, and if not.... im very interested to see what the other answers are.
posted by stillnocturnal at 8:32 PM on July 31, 2009

Response by poster: Even my modem/router (it's supposed to be a modem and router in one, although it doesn't look like it to me) configuration page will time out. Does that mean it's strictly a problem with my modem?
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:19 PM on July 31, 2009

Restart everything. Try connecting to your router directly with a cable if you're on wireless.
posted by madh at 10:03 PM on July 31, 2009

Best answer: If you're on 512kbps, I'm guessing that's because you're near the geographical limits of ADSL (I assume it's ADSL?) in your area? If so, your connection might be struggling with noise on the line and occasionally losing packets or reconnecting.

If you poke about in the modem's stats you should be able to find things like how long it's been connected, the noise margin (higher is better, steadier is better), and ideally a log which'll let you see if it's been reconnecting a lot.

There are some things you can do to improve a shaky ADSL connection if it turns out noise is an issue. Make sure you have a good microfilter (an 'active' one can improve things), ideally have the modem connected to the master socket with minimal extension leads, and keep obvious sources of interference away from the line. Also, some modems are better than others at coping with noise.

Iffy DNS servers can cause browsing time-outs, so try switching to OpenDNS and see if that makes a difference.

Lastly, your connection could be flooded with malware activity, so thoroughly scan the machine and check if it's busy on the net when it shouldn't be.
posted by malevolent at 1:23 AM on August 1, 2009

As malevolent says, you might have malware or other stuff on your system slowing you down. Make sure you keep your antivirus and firewall software up to date and run regular scans. If you are using firefox, do tools, options, click on Privacy, and then select show cookies, and go in and either delete all cookies, or selectively delete the cookies for websites you don't patronize regularly.

Also, definitely scan for malware using something like malwarebytes anti-malware.

Make sure you have something like McAfee SiteAdvisor or the Netcraft Anti-Phishing Toolbar (or both) installed to help you practise safe web browsing.
posted by gudrun at 1:45 AM on August 1, 2009

I recently had a similar problem. I could browse the web fine, then suddenly nothing would load. A couple minutes later, it was back to normal. This would repeat occasionally throughout the day.

I ended up switching to OpenDNS and have not seen any problems since.
posted by mathlete at 7:16 AM on August 1, 2009

Response by poster: Ok the problem seems to have gone away. To be honest I've done so many things I'm not sure what solved it, but my hunch is OpenDNS.

Thanks for the quick help, folks! You did much better than Reddit!
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:40 PM on August 2, 2009

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