Question of the Week
Question: "I just got a new computer and the computer seems much faster than my old one. However, when I'm on the Internet, the computer seems as slow as my old computer. Why is that?"
Answer: We often confuse computer speed and Internet speed. They really are two different things. How fast programs (e.g., Word, Adobe Reader, iTunes, etc.) open and close is determined by computer speed. The faster the processor and the more memory in a computer, the faster these programs operate. Internet speed, however, is much more a product of what type of connection you have to the Internet.
There are, basically, six ways of getting Internet for home use and their speeds vary.
First, there is dial-up. This method is the slowest and is almost never used anymore.
Next, there's DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). This type of service is generally offered by the phone company and there are usually levels of speed within this service. For instance, here on the Treasure Coast, AT&T offers four speeds: .75 Mbps; 1.5 Mbps; 3.0 Mbps and 6.0 Mbps. (Mbps is megabits per second or millions of bits per second.) Not all speeds are available in all areas and the faster the service, the more costly.
The third common way of connecting to the Internet is U-verse. Again this is offered by AT&T and is faster than DSL. U-verse also has tiers of speed including 12 Mbps, 18 Mbps, 24 Mbps 45 Mbps and 75 Mbps. Just like DSL, not all speeds are offered in every area and, as speeds go up, so does the cost.
Cable is the fourth method of Internet access for home users. Cable also offers different levels of speed, everything from 3.0 Mbps all the way up to 505 Mbps. (We have Comcast here at Keystone Computer Concepts and our speed is usually around 128 Mbps.)
The fifth way to get on the Internet is to use a mobile hotspot (often called Mi-Fi which is actually a brand name). Mobile hotspots provide Internet access via cell towers. Like other methods of accessing the Internet, there are levels of speed. The fastest speed, currently, is around 12 Mbps. Using a hotspot is sometimes a little more challenging because, just like cell phone calls, Internet connection can "drop" and you sometimes have to power down and then restart the hotspot unit. The monthly cost for a hotspot can be as high as $50. Also, most mobile hotspot plans have a limit as to how much data you can use without being charged extra. You should check with your cell phone provider and see what they offer, if a mobile hotspot sounds like something you'd be interested in.
The sixth and final method of Internet connection for home users is satellite. Used primarily by people who live "in the boonies" where no cable access nor cell phone access is available. Satellite speeds vary from 5 Mbps to 15 Mbps. Compared to other methods of Internet connection, satellite is expensive on a monthly basis. Additionally, like mobile hotspots, satellite service has a limit on the amount of data you can use during the month without being charged extra.
To sum it up, even if you have the fastest, newest computer on the market, if you have slow Internet access, webpages will still load slowly, videos will buffer and you will just find the Internet s-l-o-w!