Patrick Marshall answers readers’ questions about personal technology.
Q: Recently, I used Speedtest.net to check my Internet speed and found that it was reduced from my normal ping at 8 milliseconds, uploads at 10 megabits per second, downloads at 30Mbps, to a ping at 8ms, uploads at 0.5Mbps, and downloads at 5Mbps.
Some sites, like Amazon.com, were very clunky and with exceptionally slow responses. However, The Seattle Times print access appeared normal.
Is this a local issue or is it an general problem, perhaps caused by commercial end-of-year reporting programs?
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— Bob Fuller
A: Measuring Internet speeds can be trickier than you might think.
First, don’t trust a single speed test. Run multiple tests and, ideally, select different servers for the tests.
Second, don’t judge your Internet speed by how fast a specific site comes up. Browsers cache data, so you may simply be very quickly summoning a page you’ve already downloaded to your computer.
Even if you have a speed rating you have confidence in, if it’s lower than you’re expecting, you still need to track down the cause.
First, make sure to run speed tests from a computer connected by Ethernet cable to the modem. If you’re regularly getting slower than expected speeds when connected by Ethernet, contact your Internet service provider.
If, however, you’re getting the expected speeds when connected by cable and not when connected over Wi-Fi, you can forgo badgering your ISP. Instead, you’ll need to check for what’s affecting your Wi-Fi.
In general, look for sources of possible radio wave interference, such as microwaves. Also, if it’s been a while since you’ve updated your Wi-Fi router, you may want to consider upgrading.
Newer Wi-Fi standards — 802.11n and 802.11ac — support better performance. But bear in mind that even if you get a superfast Wi-Fi router it can only deliver the performance supported by your client adapter.
Q: My wife and I bought two Dell laptops from Costco and we installed Windows 10 on both. Before installing Windows 10, Bluetooth functioned properly from my laptop. After installing Windows 10, Bluetooth failed to function.
I have spent 2½ half hours on Costco’s Concierge help line to no avail. The device manager tells me I am paired with a proper Bluetooth speaker. It says we are connected, but it continues to indicate that it is searching for the device and never functions properly.
I have tested the Bluetooth device with other computers and it functions properly. I have rebooted, reinstalled, restored — all to no avail.
Only after giving my laptop the complete work-over did I check to my wife’s laptop. Result: like mine, hers says “paired” and “connected” and searching, but no function. My conclusion, Windows 10 is the culprit. Can you suggest a solution?
— Jeff Smith
A: Any time one upgrades to a new version of an operating system, there’s a chance that some of the drivers for some of your devices may no longer work properly.
You’ve taken many of the right steps to try to fix the problem. And I’m especially interested that you tried the speakers with other computers and they worked fine.
Were any of those computers running Windows 10? If so, the problem is likely not Windows 10, and I recommend that you contact Dell.
If none of the other computers was running Windows 10, the problem is more likely to be with the speaker drivers, and I suggest you contact the manufacturer of the speakers to see if updated drivers are available.