Why Slow Internet Hangs Your Computer

Why Slow Internet Hangs Your Computer

In sequel to Byte Size Matters article, a frequent occurrence of Microsoft computers on slow network connections in rural areas is the partial updates that attempt to download (unsuccessfully), eventually resulting in a frustrating slow or corrupt computer system.

There may be a number of good reasons your computer has deteriorated.  A virus sweep is always warranted, but this isn’t viral-related at all.   The problem has more to do with the behemoth operating system updates Microsoft sends out, and its policy to automatically set updates to auto-download.  While that policy might be effective for a company with computers on a fast Internet connection, on a slow connection, it is a terrible policy.

The scale of fast versus slow is not easily recognized with smaller downloads of say under 100Mb.  A connection that allows “Up to 3Mb per second” may run an average of 1-2 Mbs.  If on a good day it runs 2Mbs, theoretically, a 100Mb file downloads in 50 seconds.   In reality, several seconds are taken to begin the download, and it may temporarily stall, so realistically it is still a reasonable 1-3 minute download.  But lets talk about a bigger chunk of data – a movie for example, or an entire Microsoft operating system update, of a sum of about 1 Gb (over 1000 Mb).  So basically 1-3 minutes turns into 10 to 30 minutes over a slow connection!

YOUR Internet speed isn’t the only factor.    Even if YOUR Internet speed is ultra-high speed, if the website from which you wish to receive data is slow, you will see slow downloads. In the case of Microsoft, it is reasonable to expect sufficient bandwidth from their update servers at non-peak times.  So a difference in Internet speed from 1-3 Mbs to a faster 25 Mbs could be very significant.  If it takes 100 minutes at 1 Mbs, then at 25Mbs it should only take a very reasonable wait of 4 minutes or so.  Thus it is all about scale.  As humans we often encounter situations where a 10-20 minutes waits is acceptable, but much longer sends us walking elsewhere.  In fact, doing Microsoft updates over a slow Internet connection is much like wading through metroplex traffic during rush hour(s).  The chances of vehicle breakdown is extremely high–just as high as the chances your update will not succeed and your computer will choke on the unsuccessful attempts.

Our recommendation:  Let a computer shop do the updates for you. A good shop will have the updates already downloaded, or will have a high speed connection where they can get them many times faster than you can.

B.A.

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