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DQOTD: Why does tablet outdo PC bandwidth test?
Old 10-25-2013, 10:49 AM   #1
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DQOTD: Why does tablet outdo PC bandwidth test?

My PC connection has become frustratingly slow, even freezes at times for what seems like an eternity (prob 30-60 sec). Whereas my iPad seems to connect much faster, and it's never "frozen" on me even once. Online bandwidth test clock my PC download Mbps at 7.5 and my iPad at 11-12 when testing them at the same time (I realize real time traffic is a factor). The PC is hardwired off our router, the iPad wifi from same router.

I have run every form of virus/malware check on my PC I know of, and been through cleaning up start-up menu, defragmentation, etc.

DW's really old Dell laptop is so slow it's simply hopeless.

We have the XFinity Performance Starter package which is supposed to be 12 Mbps. I'm too cheap to pay for higher speeds, and don't need more space.
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Old 10-25-2013, 11:05 AM   #2
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I've experienced somewhat similar things with Xfinity. In recent months my browser connection would (a few times daily) just disconnect from the web from seconds to maybe a minute. I could not really duplicate the problem on my tablet (Kindle Fire) because generally the disconnects were too short. My PC is also hardwire connected.

I called Xfinity and the first rep said it was on my end. She said that she could see disconnects but it was not from their cable. Then I called during daytime hours (west coast) and the rep gave me a stronger signal connection. The speed test is now at 29 Mbps (as somewhat lower before) but the main thing is the disconnects have disappeared. I think the latency (time to initially start the connection) is also better. Speed test is here: XFINITY Speed Test

In recent days I've noticed some site connect problems that seem to be limited to individual (not necessarily repeating) one.

I would recommend trying to get a US based rep at Xfinity to help with any problems. I think the second rep I talked to was US based.
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Old 10-25-2013, 11:14 AM   #3
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From what I've seen, the Xfinity speed test reports 3 to 4 times the actual bandwidth you'll experience on any one device because the test assumes you will be using multiple devices simultaneously. So, yes, you can get 30, 40 or 50 mbps via Xfinity, but that's only if you max out the bandwidth delivered to multiple devices simultaneously, then sum the measurements.

As for why the PC is slower, its NIC may be older and slower, or it may be busy with background tasks.

For independent speed tests, I like the Library of Congress site. They have a huge outbound pipe, and many large TIFF format images you can download, ones 20 megabytes in size. They make good performance testers if you simply count the seconds to download.
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Old 10-25-2013, 11:53 AM   #4
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If you are using windows, Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows update are probably running during the bootup.

A handy free "tool" is "Process Explorer"... which can be downloaded here:
Process Explorer - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com
It's pretty easy to use and you can check to see which processes could be slowing your computer.
Microsoft updates have been super active over the past few weeks.

You can also go to "run" and input msconfig, to see what processes have inseted themselves into your startup. I have stopped all of the startup programs, and it helps with the boot time.

The other thing that happened to me, was a terrible slowdown from "Comcast" ... paying for 25+Mbps, and getting 3. The tech told me I had to upgrade my modem to a Docsis 3.0... I didn't believe him, because i used to get 20+ Mbps on my older modem.... but... I went down to Comcast and rented a new Docsis 3.0.... The tech was right... I'm getting the speed i pay for. I'm humbled.

Still, boot time is pretty long, but less than 1/2 compared to before...
Good luck... I'll be watching for other solutions.
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Old 10-25-2013, 12:02 PM   #5
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...(snip)...
Still, boot time is pretty long, but less than 1/2 compared to before...
Good luck... I'll be watching for other solutions.
Somewhat OT, but maybe your boot time is due to an older system? I don't generally reboot more then once per week. Just put it into sleep mode with a password required for security to re-enter.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:18 PM   #6
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My PC connection has become frustratingly slow, even freezes at times for what seems like an eternity (prob 30-60 sec). ...

Freezing for 30-60 seconds is not explained by a difference in network speeds of 7 Mbps vs 12 Mbps, and paying for higher BW will have zero affect.

When I've seen those sorts of delays, it has been the CPU running out of RAM and needing to go out to the hard drive to use 'swap' space. Once you start using swap, switching from one window to another can mean going through this process:


1) Oh, I don't have that window in memory.
2) Oh, I have it out on my swap space on the Hard Drive, but I don't have room for that in memory.
3) So I will have to take something from memory, and write it to the hard drive.
4) Ok, writing is done, now I can read in that window, and display it.

When you consider that the amount of memory that may need to be swapped out may be a couple hundred MB, it can take a while to write that out and read that from another area.

I'm not sure of the easy way to monitor swap space in Windows, I monitor it closely on my Linux machine, as my cheap HW maxes out as 3G RAM. I started using z-ram, which has helped a lot - I can go longer before needing to swap, and that is usually cleared by closing/opening my browser - those seem to eat up and leave behind a lot of memory.

Oh, my MAX BW is ~ 4Mbps, and the only time I see delays like that are if there is a problem with the site I'm accessing, or I'm swapping.

-ERD50
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:39 PM   #7
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There may be a lot of reasons, but I'm guessing that less multitasking and an operating system loading from flash memory instead of a much slower conventional hard drive are factors here.
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:27 PM   #8
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For Win 8 there is Task Manager and the admin can access Resource Monitor from this (there is a button on the Performance tab page). In my case there is no memory issue.

Would one have memory issues with just a browser running? I'm guessing that Midpack is talking about a simple situation with not a lot of apps open at once.
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:33 PM   #9
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I experienced much the same during my career, as MS Windows on the desktop, on application servers and as Operator consoles in the control rooms took over from VMS and Unix. Fortunately we managed to hang onto our IBM Unix servers (AIX) to run our financial systems including the maintenance & stores system.

All our Windows servers used to grind to a halt and need re-booting from time to time such that we had a rotation of monthly re-boots whether or not they needed it. The same with the operator consoles providing the man-machine interfaces with the plants' instrumentation where operators controlled the processes.

I've had an iPad for 10 months now and love the speed and reliability of it, so much so that I think the next time my Dell laptop needs replacing that I will spring for a Mac laptop.

To answer your question, I've experienced the same issues myself, and in fact whenever we are away from home and want to stream something from the web to a TV then I will use my iPad every time.

I think iOS is a much better OS than Windows.
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:51 PM   #10
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All our Windows servers used to grind to a halt and need re-booting from time to time such that we had a rotation of monthly re-boots whether or not they needed it. The same with the operator consoles providing the man-machine interfaces with the plants' instrumentation where operators controlled the processes.
Yea that sounds painfully familiar

Couple of other things, boot into safe mode with networking and run the test. Also I have seen a port on a router go flaky, and even the cable connecting the PC to the router, or as mentioned the network card in the PC maybe going flaky. Sometimes updating the drivers for the NIC can help.
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:52 PM   #11
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We don't think about how the internet works very much, but it really depends on DNS being reliable and quick. If you're using your ISP's DNS servers, they could be the source of the problem. There's a neat little tool that can tell you about how your configured DNS servers perform vs some others: https://www.grc.com/dns/benchmark.htm
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:59 PM   #12
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I've had an iPad for 10 months now and love the speed and reliability of it, so much so that I think the next time my Dell laptop needs replacing that I will spring for a Mac laptop.
I'm pretty much leaning the same direction, although DW would rather we buy a Win laptop. The odds of us buying another desktop PC are rapidly approaching ZERO.

Just went to update iOS7 after syncing my iPad, time estimate was 16-18 minutes! HUH So I cancelled, and went through Settings on my iPad to update iOS7 - much, much faster

Wonder how long it will be before tablets take over completely for all but the most intense applications (a very small % of the population - CGI, pro coding/engineering, very serious gamers, etc.)? Bet it will be faster than most people expect...
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Old 10-25-2013, 04:16 PM   #13
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I'm pretty much leaning the same direction, although DW would rather we buy a Win laptop. The odds of us buying another desktop PC are rapidly approaching ZERO.

Just went to update iOS7 after syncing my iPad, time estimate was 16-18 minutes! HUH So I cancelled, and went through Settings on my iPad to update iOS7 - much, much faster

Wonder how long it will be before tablets take over completely for all but the most intense applications (a very small % of the population - CGI, pro coding/engineering, very serious gamers, etc.)? Bet it will be faster than most people expect...
We just had 6 months traveling in Europe and I left my laptop behind, as did DW. She had her new iPod Touch and I had my iPad with keyboard, HDMI cable and cable to connect to my camera. Also had Google Drive, and Dropbox to hold vital documents and transfer photos to the home laptop when we returned. You can even hold documents on Google Drive locally on the iPad (access them without being connected to a network), and I did this with all of the reservations we made as it cut down on the paper initially, and when making reservations during the trip it meant I didn't have a need to print anything. e.g. we booked overnight in a motel to meet up with some relatives from Scotland who we were driving to France with. We caught the train from Cornwall to Kent to the station nearest the motel then took a cab. The driver asked us "which particular Travel Lodge do you want?". I just showed him the copy of the reservation on the iPad and off we drove.

The main thing I missed was proper "Office" applications and a wireless mouse. There are also applications for the Genealogy work that DW does that are not available on a tablet.
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Old 10-25-2013, 04:31 PM   #14
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...

Would one have memory issues with just a browser running? I'm guessing that Midpack is talking about a simple situation with not a lot of apps open at once.
The browser is what causes my memory problems. But I open/close many windows/tabs, have many windows and tabs open at one time.

But I think just accessing this forum for example, opening a thread, and then closing it, seems to leave a little memory locked up. I find that if I just quit the browser, and let it reopen with all those same tabs and windows re-opened (which I have it set to do automatically), I am using FAR less memory. So it apparently opened up a lot of memory that was allocated.

Of course it could be something else, not enough info to know for sure (not that I could be sure anyhow), but I know that a 30 second freeze isn't a function of 7 Mbps versus 12 Mbps.

-ERD50
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Old 10-25-2013, 04:52 PM   #15
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Wonder how long it will be before tablets take over completely for all but the most intense applications (a very small % of the population - CGI, pro coding/engineering, very serious gamers, etc.)? Bet it will be faster than most people expect...
I don't think so. I think there are still too many things where something more powerful than a tablet is necessary. I am much more interesting in convertible devices that can be a laptop, run Windows (or the Mac software if so inclned), have a keyboard, but can also be a tablet. I recently order this one:

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro: Laptop Tablet Hybrid - Multimode Ultrabook Laptop | Lenovo (US)

What I like is that it is a full Windows laptop and works like one, has a touchscreen and can be used as a tablet if you want (I've seen and handled one at Best Buy so I know this does work). You can also use it in tent or stand mode for watching media.

Something like this probably would meet the needs of 90% of people out there. It runs all the regular Windows software, can do light, casual gaming (like I do with World of Warcraft), can be used in tablet, tent or stand mode for consuming media, and has a very high resolution screen - 3200x1800. For me, I would still want a desktop as I like having dual 27" monitors and while I can play some casual WoW on a notebook, it is better on a gaming computer. But I understand that most people don't have that desire.

The problem with an iPad for me and many people as a sole device is that it compromises too much away. First let me say that I love my iPad. I use it on a daily basis. But it isn't a substitute for my desktop or even for the laptop I just ordered:

Typing on an iPad is a chore. I did recently a Logitech cover that was a keyboard built into it. I do love it and I write a lot more emails on it than I did before. That said, with that cover on the iPad is a lot thicker and heavier and so it doesn't have much advantage over the Lenovo Yoga 2 pro linked above. And keyboard covers create an issue of their own. That is, the keyboard cover is great when I want to type. When I don't want to type and am not at home, it is problematical. That is, the cover comes off and there is no where to put it while I'm using the iPad just to read a book.

Can't use full Windows (or Mac) software on an iPad. Yes, apps are great. I love them. But, they often lack features that are in the Windows version of the software. I can read Word docs on my iPad but I can't see redlining in the program I use. I can use some features of the Fitbit software with its app. But I get a lot more information with the desktop software. Lots of people do need and want to use full software not just apps. Many people who have day jobs do work at home sometimes or need to access work data from home and iPad apps just aren't sufficient.


Data storage. Even the largest GB storage iPad doesn't have near the storage of my desktop. On my desktop I can store lots of photos and lots of videos. I can store only a portion of them on my iPad. Not a problem since I have the desktop. Would be a problem if all I had was an iPad.

Screen sizes - I do like the iPad for many things but for really using a device for a long time nothing beats having a large monitor or - even better - having dual monitors. I like being able to have a browser up on one monitor while having what I'm working on (or what I'm playing) up on another monitor.
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Old 10-25-2013, 05:32 PM   #16
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The main thing I missed was proper "Office" applications and a wireless mouse. There are also applications for the Genealogy work that DW does that are not available on a tablet.
I'm sure you've caught the rumor RE: why the recent update is the iPad Air and not iPad(5). Leaves room for a more powerful iPad Pro with productivity/office apps. And with the new iOS devices, they are now giving away Notes (Word light), Numbers (Excel light) and Keynote (PPT light) along with several other very popular iOS apps. Anyone think the office apps for iOS devices won't add more capability soon (a few years)?

Tablets can print wirelessly already.

The cloud will replace data storage for many more than we might expect, security is already very high (businesses already use the cloud) and will only improve.

You can already mirror tablets to TV, a huge screen, with Apple TV ($99) or Chromecast ($35).

Just watch what the younger generations are buying, and not buying.

I am sure desktops will continue to exist, but they will become an expensive niche in the next 10-20 years.

We'll see...
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:09 PM   #17
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The browser is what causes my memory problems. But I open/close many windows/tabs, have many windows and tabs open at one time.
I'm wondering if Midpack isn't suffering browser issues too.

On my PC, I get all sorts of strange freezes from various browsers at various versions during their history. Currently, Firefox is giving me fits and I've pretty much gone to Chrome. At this point in time, Chrome seems to be the least freeze-able.

That said, I've had issues with Safari not rendering certain pages, so Mac is not perfect either. (It doesn't freeze, that's good. But what's bad it is just presents blank info where there should be data.)

As for Tablets and Desktops. I still like my desktop to do "work", whether it is engineering coding, or just working my finances. I do see the allure of the tablet and understand. However, we don't all have 18 year old eyes and fingers. The desktop is easier on my eyes and the full size keyboard is easier on my mildly arthritic fingers.
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:22 PM   #18
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My PC connection has become frustratingly slow, even freezes at times for what seems like an eternity (prob 30-60 sec). Whereas my iPad seems to connect much faster, and it's never "frozen" on me even once. Online bandwidth test clock my PC download Mbps at 7.5 and my iPad at 11-12 when testing them at the same time (I realize real time traffic is a factor). The PC is hardwired off our router, the iPad wifi from same router.

I have run every form of virus/malware check on my PC I know of, and been through cleaning up start-up menu, defragmentation, etc.

DW's really old Dell laptop is so slow it's simply hopeless.

We have the XFinity Performance Starter package which is supposed to be 12 Mbps. I'm too cheap to pay for higher speeds, and don't need more space.
You don't mention operating systems versions...
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Old 10-26-2013, 07:48 AM   #19
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I had reason to boot up IE with add-ons disabled and couldn't believe how much faster it was. And that's with only three add-ons: LastPass, Office Document Cache Handler, and Windows Live Sign-in Helper!

I think it is also important to remember that what one is doing at a specific point in time, even running a speed test, is not the only thing that's happening. There might be other computers interacting with the network, just polling the network perhaps. There can be other devices that are using up bandwidth. Without our home, we have 17 devices that may be connected to the network (and probably buying #18 soon). But even someone next door could be messing with your network - not necessarily connecting, but still using network resources trying to connect to your network because their network is inaccessible. Even a neighbor's router could be causing problems for you, if you're both using the same channels for the wifi signal.
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Old 10-26-2013, 08:08 AM   #20
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I'm a fan of most tech but don't understand a lot of it. However, I recently replaced my first generation Mac Air with mechanical hard drive with a new one with flash, and also had to replace my Time Machine (which has a newer wifi). The difference was amazing. Reactions are nearly instant. Mac stuff is pricey but for me, who doesn't like to fool with the stuff much, it's worth it. YMMV.
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