Fixing computer and internet speed issues | Q&A With Patrick Marshall

Q: My Dell XPS 8900 has been taking a long time to boot lately. When the system was new, I replaced the C: Drive and added a D: Drive — both Samsung solid-state drives. Do SSDs slow down with age or use?

Eric Hammond, Port Ludlow

A: It’s possible for SSDs to slow down. The most common cause isn’t age, however, but it is the SSD being too full. Try to keep 20% to 30% of the drive free.

Another possible cause of lower performance is defragmentation. Don’t use defragmentation on SSDs. It isn’t necessary, and it uses up the finite number of available read-write operations.

You can also try to go into the computer’s BIOS (Basic Input Output System) and make sure that AHCI (Advance Host Controller Interface) and TRIM are switched on. The former controls how that SSD interacts with your computer and the latter increases the efficiency of SSDs in freeing up blocks of data storage that are no longer in use.

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Q: I ran a speed test on my internet. I was supposed to be supplied with 30 megabits per second and the test showed I was getting 19-22 Mbps. Any suggestions?

—Charlie Brocksmith

A: That’s about the speed test result I would expect to see on a 30 Mbps connection. Actual download speeds rarely get very close to the speed one is paying for.

Several things can impact actual download speeds. First, if your computer is connected via Wi-Fi, that can drop your performance significantly. To get a more accurate reading of your service, connect your computer by wire directly to the modem.

Other common causes of reduced performance are radio interference from other devices and having multiple devices using the connection.

The bottom line: I pay for 1-gigabit internet, and I am happy if my computer gets 600 Mbps when connected directly to the modem. If I’m testing over Wi-Fi, I’m happy with 300-400 Mbps.

Q: My computer doesn’t adjust the time when I move from Pacific Time to Central Time and back. I go to the “Time and Language” section of Settings, and “Set time automatically” is switched on. I’ve also clicked on the “Sync now” button.

— G. Sanders

A: This is one for Microsoft’s suggestion box. If you haven’t switched on Location Services in the Privacy and Security section, your computer won’t detect the time zone and change the clock. It would be a good idea for Microsoft to put a notice on the Time and Language page alerting users that they need to switch on Location Services if they want the time to be set automatically.

Once you switch on Location Services, Windows allows you to specify which devices and programs can access your location. Just go to Privacy and Security, then scroll down to “App Permissions” and select “Location.” You’ll see a long list of options for switching access to your location on or off.

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