In fact, that is exactly what I did: I wasted hours checking all the more complex items first.
Perhaps the human brain is "wired" to believe that since we live in a complex world, the solutions to the problems we face are equally complex, when in fact, often, simple remedies may be available. That's why in this blog entry, you can benefit from my mistake.
The First Clue: a Sluggish Web Browser
So let's back-track a few days. We noticed that web pages appeared to be taking longer to load. Here, at the InternetTIPS.com office, British Telecom or BT is our Internet Access Provider (ISP). With our installation, we were able to quickly check the "Downstream" and "Upstream" speeds - they were much lower than normal: about 330 Kbps upstream and 220 Kbps downstream: ouch! Clearly, the speed of access was not what it should be.
Nevertheless, since our office is located in a rural area and our local telephone exchanges several miles / kilometers away, using current technology, broadband speed is never as good as might be available in or near neighboring towns and cities. So typically, we might get about 1,300 Kbps upstream and 300 Kbps downstream. Not massive yet perfectly fine.
For us, having made the choice to live a high quality lifestyle as a writer, web designer and website publisher, meant we have choices. The benefits and privilege of being able to live in a wonderful community, close to nature in a beautiful part of the world, far outweigh not having the option to gain access to the fastest broadband speeds available.
Tip: for a website publisher, having a slower broadband speed can actually be a benefit. Why: if we design or provide websites that load fast at slower broadband speeds, then most typical customers and clients who live near main towns and cities with faster broadband speeds, can experience much faster page displays. Our websites then appear to load faster.
Attempting to Analyze the Cause of the Problem
So we looked into our slow broadband speed problem. We checked various settings, made some tests. Downloaded some latest software drivers from the Internet, and so on. When we had run out of ideas, we thought, let's check the microfilter.
The Problem Resolved - With a Massive Broadband Speed Increase as a Bonus
We had some spare microfilters available. So carefully we simply unplugged our phone line from the wall socket, changed the microfilter plugged the phone lead from our Internet access point / router into the new microfilter and plugged the other end of the microfilter back into the wall phone socket.
Result: problem solved. We checked a few live web pages including one of our favorite websites: www.InternetTIPS.com :-) All now seemed normal again. In fact, "sprightly" might be a better, more descriptive word. Sure, we had a our normal Internet access back, yet there was something different as well.
When we checked our actual Internet access speeds, we discovered a pleasant surprise. Our broadband upstream speed had increased to 2,336 Kbps - a seven-fold increase! Downstream speed also went up to 330 Kbps (Update 2013: now our default speeds are much faster, however, the principle can still apply is speeds drop).
Although naturally pleased, at first glance, we were puzzled by the speed increase. So ever in the fault-finding mindset, we replaced the original microfilter to confirm that the old microfilter was indeed faulty. However, much to our surprise, the fast Internet broadband speed increases were maintained even when the original microfilter was re-installed.
So your editor considered what might have happened. Here's what I concluded:
- The original microfilter wasn't faulty. However, having at least one spare microfilter available on hand to use at short notice is always a good idea. In our instance, that's precisely what lead to the solution for our problem.
- By unplugging our phone line / Internet access lead and then re-connecting it to the phone wall socket, we triggered our local telephone exchange / broadband provider to automatically re-initialize our broadband speed to the fastest possible for our particular installation. That was the actual remedy for us.
Conclusion: What Did We Learn?
Hindsight is always a wonderful luxury. Yet when faced with a dramatic and sudden drop in broadband speed, clearly, there are lessons to learn. Here's what we learned from this experience:
- Always check the quick and simple things first.
- However, know what you can do and what you shouldn't do before your try something new. Always check your broadband installation and service instructions before doing making any changes to your computer or broadband installation.
- Your Internet Service Provider most likely has help files available, so check those too. Our provider is BT and their online Help is simply superb.
- Keep at least one spare microfilter available at all times.
- In the future, if we notice our broadband speed dropping dramatically, occasionally or even on a regular basis, we may simply carry out the remedy we applied in this article as a matter of course. Perhaps you can too.
Now what can you do to improve your broadband speed?