Weird Network Problems

Published on January 5, 2007

I have recently been seeing some very strange networking issues on my home computer, and I’m not certain I understand where the problems are coming from. Because my computer is a long way from our cable modem, I make use of a wireless networking adapter (a Netgear WG311 v3, to be exact). The signal strength I receive is somewhat low, due to the adapter’s tiny antenna and its lousy location at the back of my computer.

The actual problem I’m seeing is a severe degradation in performance over time. When I run the speed test at Speakeasy right after a reboot (or when I initially turn on my machine), I can consistently get ~4500 kbps down and ~300 kbps up. After an hour or two of usage, running the same test consistently gives me ~750 kbps down and ~50 kbps up (sometimes slightly higher; the numbers vary). None of the other computers in my house see this issue, and all are wireless.

Last night I flashed the latest firmware onto our DLink DI-624 wireless router (the one that was installed was really old), but I saw the issue again after I made the update. Seeing that this issue is limited to my machine, it makes me think of two possibilities:

  1. It’s a problem with my wireless card (though another computer in my house has the exact same type of card, and doesn’t see the problem).
  2. It’s a software issue (something is screwing over the network settings system wide).

Does anyone have an idea of what might be going on here? I’m thinking about buying a new networking card with a better external antenna (this one at NewEgg is what I’m currently looking at), with the hopes that better signal strength will make this problem disappear. But I’m grasping at straws; this is driving me nuts and I want it fixed!

2 Comments

kip

You could try taking swapping the identical wireless cards, and see if the problem stays on your machine or goes to the other one. Then you’d definitely know it was the card and not some weird settings on your PC.

If the problem stays on your machine, you could try it in safe mode (and maybe running your browser in safe mode too), to minimize the possibility of any other software hogging bandwidth for no reason.

Another idea- after you do a speed test that comes back slow, try resetting the router (as in unplugging it for a few minutes) then try it again. It already sounds like it’s your PC, this would just be further confirmation.

Problems like this drive me absolutely crazy too, when something that should work doesn’t (without giving any reason why).

Good idea about swapping the networking cards; that hadn’t even occurred to me. It looks like the networking card I was looking at is sold out at NewEgg. 🙁

Perhaps they’ll restock soon…

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