Blog posts written during November 2011

Why is my network slow

Tuesday Tuesday, November 22, 2011 by Ian Pettman

A bit of detective work and the culprits behind slow network speeds.

We recently installed our recruitment software at a new customer with all new 64 bit computers and the much over hyped BT fast broadband. I think the ad with the guy from "My family" goes something like "the fastest, most reliable broadband".
So the question was, why was their network about 4 times slower than a 3 year old laptop which has a quarter of the computing power? We expect our pages to load in around a second, not 15-20 seconds. The network was as supplied by BT. The PCs as supplied by Dell.

The first step was to ask what antivirus they had? Norton was the answer. We know Norton and some others exhaustively (and in certain cases needlessly) analyse network traffic before allowing the network to pass the communication between any two computers. A bit like a set of roadwork traffic lights. No matter that, if it was a bit more intelligent, it would see that it was perfectly safe to let the traffic through, it does a "jobs worth" of checking and cross checking then, grudgingly only after some immense time doing this, finally allows safe traffic to pass. In doing all this checking, Norton makes even the fastest network behave like a complete dog.

So the first task was to tell Norton that MS SQL has never been able to store a virus hidden between the folds of its data structure and there has only ever been one case of the database engine being infected (so well is it controlled). This one case was over five years ago now and the current versions of MSSQL (which we use) are totally immune to this type of virus or indeed any type of virus.

The next issue turned out to be BT's much advertised wireless hub. Now with any wireless hub or router there are always over a dozen channels that your network can choose to communicate on. So BT always chooses the same one.  It's a bit like having a dozen lifts and telling everyone to use the same lift leaving the other eleven empty. Queues form and it takes forever for the lift doors to close, the person at the back is the first one who wants to get out, etc., etc., etc.. Your wi-fi connection has exactly these problems but these are translated into data transfer.

So we chose another channel: - mmm the customer said, the entire network seems to be running better now….

If you have an Android phone then the following very simple free app shows you which channels are being used by neighbours and which are not:

Free Android wifi analyzer

There is an app for your iPhone or iPad as well...

Free iPhone wifi analyzer although we have not tried this one.

And of course if you only have your laptop, then there is this excellent free windows application.

Free windows wifi analyser

At the end of the day, if you are in a noisy environment, the answer to your Wi fi problems may be "just say no" and invest in cables between your computers. These cables are commonly known as "cat 5" and "cat 6" which are 100MB and 1GB (100 million Bytes per second and 1000 million Bytes per second respectively) and a Byte is a "word" of digital data. The ends of the cables have connectors called RJ45. (Your wifi connection probably gives you 56MB at best.) Don't pay over the odds for these cables - the "cat" name means they are built to a standard and all "cat 5" cables have the same standard of performance.

PS There is a known issue with the current version of the andriod free app which may also apply to the others as well. The app continues to display an old connection when your router has been reset to another channel. You need to restart your phone / pc to clear the old channel. This may be because the wifi device may be hanging on to the old connection and keeping it alive.

Spend just ten minutes with one of these free apps and any home or office Wi-fi network may run a lot more reliably. Of course you wont get any interference problems with a good old fashioned cable and youl also get 100Mb or 1GB bandwidth...

 

You tube: AvaSupport reaches 3000 views

Friday Friday, November 18, 2011 by Ian Pettman

We are very happy to announce over 3000 views for our support channel since it was launched 3 months ago. Our website is also going from strength to strength.

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