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Solutions: Internet connection issues may be caused by ISP, congested 'hub'

I have Windows 7 Home Premium and IE 9 on both a hard-wired PC and a wireless laptop and have experienced intermittent problems connecting to the Internet or, once connected, switching to another website. I have had our cable company out three times, and they changed the modem and found no other problems. I recently started watching streamed movies through my Wii system and began having Internet connection problems with that. I now know it isn't a software problem on the computers. The last technician removed the wireless router so that only the PC is hard-wired to the cable modem. But we still experienced intermittent problems. I changed the Ethernet cable and the problem was still there. Is it possible the trouble is with the ISP's servers or something else? Could you address the ISP's role in our being able to connect and surf websites and if there is anything that can be done to identify or correct any problems?

It most definitely can be congestion in your local "hub" area. Remember, you are sharing your bandwidth at that point with neighbors, or however wide an area your ISP covers for each hub. The technicians know what the signal strength should be from your cable modem to the outside (sometimes inside) cable box. The ISP will also have its own speed test to make sure you are getting the proper bandwidth out and onto the Internet. I could direct you to a few sites, such as speedtest.net, but you will want to ask your ISP for its specific test site. You should be getting consistent readings at all times of the day and they should be equal to the speed you are paying for. The tests should be run when you are hard-wired to your cable modem. If your neighbors get the same results as you and use the same ISP, that pretty much confirms an ISP issue.

We have an HP desktop with Windows Vista Home Premium. We have encountered a recurring problem for some time in which the screen will freeze when we read our e-mail or use the Internet. The only solution we have found is to do "Control-Alt-Delete," log off and log back on. We also have a Lenovo laptop connected to the same carrier, and it does not have this problem. Is there something we can do to get rid of this annoying glitch?

First, make sure you have the latest updates for Windows Vista and Internet Explorer, and that your antivirus is up to date and returning clean scans. This can be many things, but start with running Internet Explorer in No Add-on mode as follows:

For Windows Vista, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Internet Explorer (No Add-ons). Internet Explorer will open without add-ons, toolbars or plug-ins. If it seems to fix the problems, restart Internet Explorer normally, click Tools, Manage Add-ons. Disable all add-ons but one. Exit and restart Internet Explorer. Repeat until you come to the add-on that causes the problem.

Send questions to personaltech@sptimes.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Internet connection issues may be caused by ISP, congested 'hub' 08/28/11 [Last modified: Sunday, August 28, 2011 5:30am]

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