Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Questions and answers related specifically to connecting to the Internet.

Can I just give people remote access to my machine to view my vacation videos?

Opening your machine to the public is a path fraught with peril and something to be avoided at almost any cost!

Can I just use my cellular service for all my internet needs?

It's tempting to consider using your mobile broadband or cellular internet for all your connectivity needs. Unfortunately there are issues.

Can my ISP turn off my modem if I use bittorrent?

ISPs can take action based on the types of things you do on your internet connection. Turning off the modem might be possible, but unlikely.

Can my Wi-Fi slow down my internet browsing?

Several things can slow a browsing session. Wi-Fi is one of them, but I certainly wouldn't limit my investigations to just the Wi-Fi.

Did techs accessing my machine remotely fix Hotmail?

Whenever somebody tells me that they gave control of their computer to an online tech support company, I get nervous... although there are reputable companies out there.

Do I need a new computer to keep up with my faster internet connection?

If your new faster internet connection doesn't perform as expected there are several things to look at, but the age of your machine probably isn't one.

Do I want to let my browser automatically detect settings?

Browsers are often configured to automatically detect settings as a convenience for networks that use proxy servers. Most of us don't need this.

Does my ISP really connect to the internet through only a single router?

Most ISPs and data centers take care to use a high degree of equipment redundancy to transparently handle almost any failure. Almost. Usually.

How are upload and download speeds related, and why are they different?

Upload and download speeds quoted by your ISP aren't as directly related as you might imagine. It's easier to think of them as two separate things.

How can I best connect to the internet while driving?

There are many options for connecting while traveling, but for connectivity while literally on the road there's only one practical solution.

How can I stop my computer from connecting to the internet automatically?

Your computer can automatically dial the internet for two reasons: it's configured to, or you have spyware. Both should be checked.

How do I tell if my computer is capable of having a wired internet connection?

Look for an ethernet cord socket on the computer. Finding one will be good news.

How do ISPs control my bandwidth?

ISPs control bandwidth with very extensive routers. The equipment owned by the ISP keeps track of exactly what data is being sent to and from your internet connection.

How do all these options for connecting to the internet differ?

With so many alternatives, it's easy to get confused. I'll present an overview of the many ways you can connect to the internet.

How do my phone company and ISP relate?

While it's common that they are, your phone company need not be your ISP. I'll look at how they relate and what happens when you change.

How does what I do on my computer use bandwidth?

Bandwidth is a vague term that has at least two different definitions. I'll look at those as well as how uploading and downloading relate to bandwidth.

How secure is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband is a popular way to connect to the Internet while traveling and occasionally, a viable alternative at home. But how secure is it?

How should I connect while traveling within the US?

When traveling, your options to connect to the internet are plenty these days. I'll review some of the more common ones.

Is 60 megabits per second too much bandwidth?

Too much bandwidth seems like a misnomer, but if you are not using it, why pay for it?

Is a wired connection to the internet faster than a wireless connection?

It's tempting to think that having a wired connection to your computer would make the internet faster. It might, but typically, it doesn't.

Is it safe to allow a technician to remotely access my machine to fix it?

Remote assistance is a very appealing feature to allow someone to remotely fix your machine. The risks, however, are significant.

Is there a way to get an internet connection for free?

Internet connectivity can get expensive. Unfortunately, low-cost or free alternatives are few or have strings attached.

Just how long should a download take?

How quickly a download takes depends on many things including the size of the file and the speed of your connection, among other things.

My ISP has placed a bandwidth cap on my connection. What should I do?

As internet usage grows ISPs are faced with problems meeting the demand for bandwidth. The result may be a bandwidth cap or limit placed on your usage.

My ISP's DNS servers are timing out frequently, what can I do?

Slow Domain Name System (DNS) lookups can affect your apparent internet speed. Your ISP should provide fast DNS, but there are also alternatives.

My firewall is slowing down my system, do I really need it?

A number of steps have increased the internet speeds of an older computer; we look at a few more tweaks to get it in top shape.

The Need for Speed

What does a gigabyte limit on my internet plan really mean?

Data transfer limits are becoming more common. I'll look at what that really means in terms of how you use the internet.

What happens to streaming video if my internet connection doesn't meet the requirements?

Short on speed? Exactly what effect that has will depend on the technology being used by the various streaming services you're talking about.

Which is better, cable or DSL?

It's hard to say, on a global basis, which is better: Cable or DSL. There are going to be differences related to the number of users on the line and distance from your ISP's equipment.

Why does "Acquiring network address" show continuously in my icon tray?

Sometimes, the icon tray is not completely reliable. This could be indicating nothing more than a driver bug.

Why does an https certificate work under one browser but not another?

Many browsers don't install the full set of root certificates when you install a browser. That can result in these errors.

Why does it take so long for webpages to load?

The three top culprits to look for are: connection overload, toolbar applications, and inadequate memory and/or caching.

Why is DSL so much more complicated to setup than cable?

The technology used to connect to the internet - DSL, Cable or something else - actually plays less of a role in setup complexity than you might think.

Why is my download speed not what it should be?

Your download speed might not be the culprit that is slowing down your internet connection. We'll take a look at several possibilities.

Why is my internet connection slowing down?

There are many reasons your internet experience might slow down. We'll look at some that might not involve your machine, but rather your ISP.

Why is my modem taking longer and longer to connect?

With some ISPs devaluing dialup in favor of broadband, there are many reasons dialup might start to get slightly more problematic over time.

Why is my new computer's internet access slower than that of my old computer?

A new computer's internet access can be slowed down by the internet connection itself or by trying to run too much software. There are a few places to look.