Tech 3011

Troubleshooting Your Internet Connection...

 Cable companies rely on people having problems with their services to make more money. Although its true that they are already making lots of $$$ in billing us for their services, they expect to make a decent portion of their profits in service charges every year. I'm Wes, the X-cable guy. I have worked for almost 12 years for one of the biggest and wealthiest cable providers out there. I'm not going to mention their name, because they are not important in this article. What is important, is saving you money, or informing you about your rights as a cable customer, in case you eventually have to call for service. Today's topic will be focusing on high-speed internet problems. If you would like to know about cable tv, or telephony,(phone) you can look for more articles from me to be written soon.

SLOW SPEEDS

 It is a common misconception, that a slow computer is the result of a slow internet connection. (I don't know why) Think of it this way...if you try to open any program on your computer, and it takes "forever" for the window to even pop up, or if you try to type something, and there is a delay between the pressing of the letter you typed and that letter appearing on your screen, there is something wrong with your computer. The internet itself will not slow down your computer's operation. To prove this, you can unplug your cable modem from power, or unplug the ethernet cable from the back of it that goes to your computer, and then try to open a program, or type something. You probably have the same performance you did with the internet hooked up to the computer. I the very unlikely case that this increased the speed of the operations of your computer, then there are two possibilities for this: 1. Your computer is infected with viruses, and when the internet is hooked up, those viruses are "alive" and using a lot of your computer's resources (memory/processor). 2. It is possible that your cable modem is defective, and sending an electrical back-feed through the ethernet cord, to your computer, but in this case, you usually wouldn't have any internet at all.

In the case of # 2, you will have to have your modem replaced, but before you call your cable provider, you'll want to make sure that #1 isn't the problem. Keep the modem unplugged from your computer or power, and run a full virus scan. If your virus protection software didn't find any threats, does your computer have Windows Defender, or any anti spy program? Maybe your internet browser (Internet Explorer/ Firefox/ Google Chrome) has Yahoo toolbar with Yahoo Antispy on it? If so, run a scan with one of those programs. If there are no viruses, you may want to check the background or startup services running on your computer. Click start...run(or "search all programs or files" for windows 7) then type msconfig, then click ok. When the new window pops up, click on the "startup" tab. Every program that has a checked box, is running constantly on your computer. The only programs that need to be "checked" is your virus protection software, your fax machine if applicable, Magic Jack if you have it, and system tray(for operating systems older than Windows XP). Uncheck all others and restart your computer. When you get back to your desktop, a new window will pop up letting you know of the changes you've just made, just check the box that says don't show again, and click ok. If you have un-checked a few programs, it probably freed up some of your computer's memory, and you should be able to open programs quicker, or notice less lag while you are typing. If you are still experiencing considerable lag, you may want to run system restore, (usually found under all programs/accessories/system tools) and restore back to a date before you started experiencing the lag, and when the computer restarts, check and see if that helped. If not, your computer's operating system needs to be reloaded. After everything is working good on your computer, you can hook your modem back up, and get online, and check to see if your browsing or download speeds are better. You can also perform a speed test by going to http://www.chi.speakeasy.net and click on the city that is closest to you. It will run a download test, then an upload test. Your download test should be close to the speed you are paying for from your ISP. If you are paying for 6 Meg service, the speed test will show a download speed close to 6.00Mbps. Note: if you have a router hooked up, it will show a decrease your download speed. If your speed is way under what you are paying for, call your ISP (cable provider) and tell them about this. Tell them to check the rate code provided to your cable modem. If they say it's the wrong one, stay on the phone with them, wait until you see all the lights on the modem go out, and come back on, and build up until it syncs again.(block sync) Then run that speed test again. Don't worry if it shows your download speed is just a little below what you are paying for, because the test can't be exact, it is just a good tool for troubleshooting to make sure your speed is in the right range.

INTERMITTENT OR NO INTERNET

 Dealing with these problems can be the most frustrating of all. Intermittent internet can be caused by a lot of different problems, and so can no internet. But don't call for a service call just yet! There are things you can do that may save you a service charge. First of all, the most common fix to both of these problems, believe it or not, is making sure the cable connector to your modem is tight. I know that sounds too easy, and with all the other things that could go wrong, this might sound like it is the least likely to be the case, but it is the third most likely cause, and since it is so easy to get to, you might as well try it first. Make sure it is as tight as you can get it without over-tightening it, because over-tightening causes problems too. After each connection that you've found loose and had to tighten, check your internet for improvement. Next, check to see if there is a SPLITTER on the floor, or a BARREL SPLICE, which should be easy to spot, because they would be metallic and have cables and connectors hooked up to them. One of the cables should be going to your modem. If you've found such a device, make sure all connectors are tight on it as well. Next, find your main splitters, either in your basement or utility room, or maybe on the outside of your house, even in a plastic box attached to you house. It is totally legal for you to gain access to this box, because it is attached to your house, and it only has cable connections in it. You may need a phillips or flathead screwdriver to open it. If there is a "lock" on it that you can not figure out how to unlock it, the next time you have a cable technician at you home, ask them to leave it unlocked. Since it is attached to your house, the tech. should not have a problem with this. If he/she strongly recommends it being locked, let them know you will buy a lock for it and provide the tech. with the key when you need service. When you gain access to this box or main splitters, make sure they are all tight. Remember not to over-tighten.

Again, check your internet. Was there any improvement? If not, you can continue to look for problems by inspecting the cables and connections that you can get to. If a cable is cut or torn, and you can see the insides, such as metal "shielding" or white foamy substance(dielectric) then you have a bad cable, and needs to be replaced by a 75 ohm RG6 cable. This is the standard type of cable to use, and if your not sure where to get a quality cable to replace it with, you are going to have to call the cable company. Next, look at the connectors at the ends of each cable that you can get to, do you see a lot of steel braid coming out of the bottom of them, or does it feel like it would be easy to pull off the cable? If the connector can be easily pulled off the cable, then it isn't creating a good seal, and must be replaced. For this I would also recommend calling your cable company.

If all cables and connectors look good to you during your visual inspection, and you are still having intermittent connections or no internet, you will have to call the cable company for service. If the problem is found to be the cable from the pole to your house, or the connection at the pole or main connection at the house, there should not be any service charge from your cable provider, unless it can be proven that you, someone living with you, or one of your pets have damaged the outside cables. Depending on the cable company, you may be charged for damaged or defective cables or connectors attached to your house or inside of your house, including the tightening of any cables attached to or inside your home. Damages done to cables outside the home caused by wild animals usually cause the service charges to waived. Damage to cables done by a worker contracted by you will usually cause you to pay a service charge. Damage to cables done by a worker contracted by someone who does not live on your property, usually the charges will be waived. If cables and any cable equipment such as cableboxes, modems, remotes are damaged in a house fire, flood, hurricane...you get the point, most cable company's equipment return policies state that their equipment should be returned in an undamaged condition, providing a little leeway for small scratches and normal wear, therefor, make sure your homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance knows of your intent to claim cable equipment damages during such emergencies. It is up to the cable company whether or not they will hold you responsible for the loss of their equipment, after you prove its loss was beyond your control, but if they decide to collect on it, the small increase to your insurance policies might be well worth it compared to the brutal prices most cable companies charge to replace their equipment.

Wes Burgan

www.xcableguyinfo.us.mn

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