What is interfering with my internet connection for Zoom meetings and other work?



Question: I have a refurbished HP laptop with Windows 10. We are using CenturyLink for the DSL modem connection. We recently purchased a new CenturyLink modem for added security.

Now, however, especially when we are using Zoom, a message pops up stating that our internet connection is unstable and we often lose our modem and internet connection. There is often a problem to connect when we turn on the computer. You must restart the computer several times before connecting. This also happens occasionally on my desktop, which also has Wi-Fi.

My question is whether the connection issues are due to an issue with the modem, CenturyLink line, or the computer’s Wi-Fi card. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

-Henry Burton

A: You’ve identified the three most likely culprits: the modem, DSL connection, or the computer’s Wi-Fi client. But since it seems that the problem only arose after installing the new modem, I would focus on this as the most likely cause of your unstable connection. Before calling CenturyLink for a replacement, however, make sure the connection between the modem and the DSL line is nice and strong, and then restart the modem.

You can also try connecting the computer directly to the modem using an Ethernet cable. If the problem goes away, it will at least let you and CenturyLink know that the problem is with the modem’s Wi-Fi router. I have found that modems that also offer Wi-Fi often perform less well than Wi-Fi routers. This is why I chose to connect a high-end Wi-Fi router to my cable modem and use it. ‘use for my Wi-Fi connection.

Question: I’m a busy computer user, but I’m technically intermediate when it comes to computers at best. As such, it seems that there is a conspiracy to make it difficult for us middlemen to easily and simply know what routine maintenance to perform on browsers, manage computer resources, start up, etc., so that we don’t we were not constantly experiencing “speed frustration”.

To add to that, we the middlemen don’t know what to trust who’s online and it seems nobody we trust (Microsoft, Google, etc.) is posting anything that “follow the dots.” To make it easy for us to know what routine maintenance to do so that EVERYTHING is fast.

Is this a plot to get us to buy a service contract? Can you start posting simple instructions in your column periodically for each important topic?

– Nick Vlahovich

A: I certainly understand your frustration. In fact, many of the questions I answer in this column relate to one or another of the causes of poor computer performance. And there are so many potential causes of “speed frustration” that they cannot be addressed exhaustively.

Your computer may be slow because there is not enough space on your hard drive or there may be something interfering with your Wi-Fi. Some malware can be installed by an application. that you downloaded or a third-party browser add-on may conflict with a program. Or you may have installed a program that requires more memory than your computer has.

In short, in many cases the best I can offer is to point out the most likely suspects for a specific issue. And often I have to go back and forth with the readers to make a diagnosis. And in some cases, it is impossible to diagnose a problem without hands-on troubleshooting.

My general advice for avoiding “speed frustration” is this: Keep it simple. Download as little as possible from the Internet. Do not visit websites you are unsure of. Don’t click on links in emails unless you know and trust the sender. Only install programs on your computer that you are actually going to use.

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Follow up note: In a recent column, I mentioned that I periodically sign up for a new email address to avoid all the spam that ends up plaguing my old email addresses. Several readers wrote with the observation that it can be difficult to get family, friends and other pen pals to change addresses. Fortunately, Larry Rees also wrote to me to remind me that most email programs – in fact, all I know of – allow you to set up an automatic reply to incoming mail. You can use it to notify people of your new address. (Be aware, however, that some spammers may retrieve your new email address from this response.)



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