Q: I recently had fiber with high-speed internet (500 mbps plan) installed at my second home in San Juan County. I’m concerned that I’m not getting the advertised internet speed.

About six weeks ago I ran an internet speed check and it registered about 500 mbps download speed via wireless connection. However, when I returned a couple of days ago I was having difficulty loading my email and after running a speed check found it registered less than 1 mbps. My computer is about 25 feet from the modem/router.

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After contacting a service tech and rebooting my modem/router I was able to get about 60 mbps. I was given a case number and told I would get a call back from a higher-level tech the next day. When the tech called she told me I would not be able to get even close to a reading of 500 mbps via wireless and maybe only 250 mbps if I connected via Ethernet and offered no further help to improve my speed.

I’m not convinced I’m getting the speed I’m paying for. At my primary residence in the Seattle area I regularly register more than 500 mbps with a 700 mbps plan when running speed tests via wireless. Is it possible they are somehow throttling my speed because I am not a full-time user at my second home? How do you explain the discrepancy I am seeing in internet speed?

Carl Einfeld

A: There are only two things you report that surprise me. First, that you could get anywhere near 500 mbps when connecting via wireless to a 500 mbps service. I have gigabit internet and when I connect via an optimized (and I’ll explain “optimized” in a moment) Wi-Fi router I get about 300 mbps. Even when I connect directly to the cable modem via an Ethernet cable I expect to get only about 650 mbps.

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In short, with a 550 mbps service connection assuming your client hardware is up to snuff, I’d expect a wireless connection to max out at about 100-150mbps.

The other thing that surprises me is your getting only 1 mbps. That definitely indicates something is amiss, though it is likely temporary.

So how to optimize your Wi-Fi connection? As long as there are no walls or other sources of interference between you and your router, 25 feet should be close enough to get maximum performance. But too much traffic on the Wi-Fi channels you’re using may drag down your performance. You might change the channel used by your Wi-Fi router to see if that boosts your speeds.

Also, most modern Wi-Fi routers offer two frequencies: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The 5GHz frequency offers shorter range but higher speeds. You’re close enough that range shouldn’t be an issue so if you’re not already using the 5GHz frequency switch to it.

Also remember that the speeds you get will be determined by the weakest link in your system. If your router supports the current Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standard but your computers have Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) client adapters, your performance will be limited to the speeds of the latter.

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Q: You recently wrote that you’re using Malwarebytes along with Microsoft Defender antivirus software. 

I was wondering if you’re running the free or paid version of Malwarebytes, as I’ve heard that the paid version can interfere with Microsoft Defender, but with the free version both can operate in tandem.   

I’ve also heard that with a few setting changes, the paid version can be adjusted to also operate in tandem with Microsoft Defender. 

I’ve had Malwarebytes in the past and would consider it again, particularly if it can work alongside of Microsoft Defender.

Doug Johnson

A: I’ve run the paid version alongside the Windows Security suite under both Windows 10 and Windows 11 without any problems.

By default, though, Windows 11 turns off the Windows Defender antivirus component of Windows Security when you install Malwarebytes. You can, however, set Windows Defender to periodically run a scan.