We’ve been analyzing performance of computers for well over 10 years, and there is another sub system that can impact the performance just about as much as any of your traditional sub systems such as memory and processor. That is your internet connection. In today’s world, you really cannot run your PC well without an internet connection. Even when I am writing an article like this, I prefer to be connected to the internet to do on-the-fly fact checking, or quick synonyms, or whatever. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about your internet connection and how to get the most out of it.
To get started, go to our download center, at this link. http://pcpitstop.com/internet/bw.asp and run the test. Pick a server and note the statistics for the test. If you like, pick a different server and see if there is any variation in the statistics which there often is. Here is an explanation of each statistic related to internet performance.
In today’s world, the download speed is absolutely the most important number. The download speed determines how quickly you can move information from a remote server back down to your computer. If you are receiving a large email, or downloading a song, or perhaps watching an online video such as YouTube, they all are dependent on the download speed. And of course, the faster the better.
Please see my example above from Rio de Janeiro, to London, England. My download speed is 2.06 Mbps. Perhaps the most important reason for good download bandwidth is to watch online videos such as YouTube. As a general rule of thumb, you need at least 2 megabits per second to watch YouTube videos in full screen mode. The requirements of course grow if you want to watch higher quality videos such as HD.
So in my case, I am good to go, however there are some stipulations. If you are a cable modem as opposed to DSL or a corporate internet connection, your download speed varies throughout the day. Typically cable users get worse bandwidth performance during the evenings because more people are home doing the same thing as you. Secondly, if you are on a shared connection then your performance may vary greatly. Two examples would be if you are sharing with various people at Starbucks or on a WiFi on an airplane. As a general rule of thumb, you won’t get any success watching online videos on an airplane, and Starbucks is a function of how many other peope are sharing the connection with you.
In almost all American homes, your upload speed will be a lot slower than your download speed. In my case, it is about 5X slower than my download speed. The good news is that your upload speed only comes into play when you are moving large amounts of information from your PC to a server. In reality, you are always moving information from your PC to the web as your cruise the web, but the amount of information is so small that you hardly notice. However, if you are uploading a big presentation or a video to YouTube, then you will notice for sure. A YouTube video quite often will take hours to upload.
The ping time is the amount of time for a signal to hit a server and come back. In my case, it is 238ms, which is about 1/5th of a second. Think about that, it takes less than a second for me to send information from here to London. This is one of the most amazing things about the internet. I can be talking to someone in London, and send them a PowerPoint presentation. Once it is out of my computer, it takes less than 1 second to deliver it to that person in London.
I use my internet connection for a wide variety of things including telephone. I have also called all over the world, and I have never had a problem due to my ping times. I am not an online gamer but they say that if you are playing online games that a faster ping time makes you more competitive. Outside of that, ping times on virtually any non dial up connection gives you the perrformance you need.
Windows XP Tweaks
Windows XP was release in October 2001, and guess what? XP is configured for a dialup connection. One of the reasons that PC Pitstop exists is that both Optimize and PC Matic reconfigures XP for a broadband connection. If you are running XP, these tweaks will make a significant difference in your internet experience and YouTube videos will be easier to watch. You do not need to purchase our products to optimize XP, however registry tweaks are not for the faint of heart and a mistake might have adverse consequences. There are also free XP tweakers if you want to Google around.
Microsoft made Vista and Windows 7 so they are optimized for broadband and so no further tweaks are required.
Another way to get more from your internet connection is through download accelerators. Here’s how they work. If you are downloading something, quite often, you might notice that the file is coming down very slowly depending on the web site. The reason is many web sites put a cap on the amount of bandwidth they allocate per download. When this occurs, a download accelerator splits the file into many pieces and downloads each piece individually. When it works, the results are amazing. Sometimes, the file will come down 5 times as fast.
But… download accelerators have no impact on big sites that have a lot of bandwidth like Amazon, Google, Yahoo etc. Also, sites like YouTube have no improvement with download accelerators, but when they work, they work great.
2 Tips for Watching YouTube Videos
If YouTube is stalling or buffering in the middle of watching the video, here are two simple tips.
If the connection is too slow, put YouTube videos on the lowest quality.
Move the settings to 240p and don’t watch it in full screen. If you do these two things, you have put YouTube in its most minimal setting that requires the least amount of bandwidth.
If you must watch the video in a higher resolution, then you can pause the video. YouTube will continue to download the video. Go and do something else, and wait until the entire video is downloaded and then you can watch it in its entirety. Note: don’t do this for a lot of YouTube videos at once because this requires a lot of memory.
Whether you realize it or not, your internet performance is as important to our overall system performance as the computer itself. Just like your computer, it is key to be cognizant of your internet’s limitations and work around them whenever you can.