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Tracking down the speed problems on a laptop.

I've copied the conversation here so we could remove the information from the original instructable's comments.  I figure this would also be of some interest to other forum viewers who may have similar problems, or may be able to chip in.

The long and short of it is, 92033 (Ed) has a refurbished laptop that takes literal hours to run a YouTube video on.  I suspect that it's due to a bottleneck with his internet connection.  Here's the conversation thus far:

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92033 (Ed):
Thank you kindly for your prompt reply...appreciate it very much.
I came across this site by accident in searching for something else and now I'm 'hooked' on it. :) So far I've read over 400 archived posts (whew)...as well as looking at the videos.

The videos are somewhat of a problem because this new laptop only has 512 mg memory...LOOOOOng time to load.

For example...to watch a SLOW 5-minute You Tube video takes 5-1/2 HOURS to load...keeps showing a couple words at a time...need to get two new memory chips to upgrade to 2gb.

Thanks again...Take care.
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eddems:
I think you're basic download speed is killing ya, not the laptop. check you're speed at Internetfrog.com, if you see the link near the bottom for the old test, run it, I like it's graph of upload and download speed much better.
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92033:
Thanks much. I'll check it out. I ordered a 1gb SDRAM Memory chip which just arrived yesterday. Hope this speeds things up a bit.
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harley_rly:
i hear u man, my computer is hopped up, but i live out in the sticks and have dialup...i only get 24kbps at most :(
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92033:
Maybe there's hope for 'us' yet. :-) I phoned Tiger Direct to see cost of an upgrading memory chip to go from 512mg to 1-1/2gb. The guy I talked to suggested I get "PC TUNEUP 2.0" which bypasses the Windows Operating System (I'm using Windows XP Pro) and speeds up the system. I gave it a try and ordered the CD (cost $39.98 - $44.77 postpaid). It hasn't arrived yet but will let you know if it helps as he claims it will. He said that if I just ordered a 1gb memory chip my system wouldn't notice much improvement as it is, but this CD should do the trick. THEN...when I DO order the Memory chip(s) to get total of 2gb my system should zip through like a rocket with the CD just ordered. I'll let you know when I get the CD and about the results. Just hope I haven't thrown forty-five bucks to the wind. Thanks for the contact...appreciate hearing from you. TAKE CARE. ~ ED
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Javin007:
PC Tune-Up "bypasses the Windows Operating System?" This guy fed you a load of crap. (I work on computers for a living.) PC Tune-Up does nothing more than clean up registries, defragment harddrives (if your OS even needs it, some don't) and keeps drivers up to date (which you could do manually.) That guy's an idiot, or just a liar. Could be both. Unless you were buying PC Tuneup 2.0 from Tiger Direct, in which case we can add "sleazy salesman" to that. What are the specs of the laptop? Go to Start/Run and type in DXDIAG. This will give you a quick snapshot of the specs. Specifically, I'm curious as to the processor speed/type. For a 5 1/2 hour "load" you're more likely looking at network slowdown issues (although 512 megs for XP is WAYYYY too little. I HATE when they put PCs together like that). The RAM upgrade will show significant speed increases, but no improvement with YouTube videos or other downloads. I'm glad to see you are returning the CD.
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92033:
Thanks much for your input...appreciate it very much. I checked the DXDIAG as you recommended. Here's the info on it: IBM ThinPad Laptop PC. Model # 23738TU. Intel Premium M 1.70GHZ. 512mb SDRAM Memory chip.Page File- 351mb used,513 mb available. Direct Version-Directx 9.00 (4.09.0000.0904). 512 mb SDRAM-Actual 212 Ram. AVAST Anti-Virus. MS Windows XP-PRO.. Dialup Speed-40kbps. PC2700 SDRAM 512mb Memory Chip installed. I ordered 1bb memory chip which arrived yesterday. Now I have to figure out HOW to remove the bottom of this laptop to install it...lotta small screws on it. :-) Oh, total memory shows 32mb. I don't know if this means much to you. I note your comment that the added RAM memory WONT (?) speed up loading YouTube videos? Is that correct? If so, why not? Thanks again. Take care. ~ ED
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Javin007:
:) At the risk of boring too many people, here's how memory in a PC works:

You have two kinds of memory: RAM, and Hard Drive (technically there's three, as there's also onboard video RAM on video cards, but this is primarily used for 3D video game textures, so can be mostly ignored.)

Your harddrive's read/write speed is determined by the type of harddrive it is (most are SATA now) and the rotation speed (most are 7200 RPM, though the specs for your system say yours is only 5400 RPM, but there are 10, 15, and even 20K rpm models out there that are exponentially more expensive.)

No matter what, harddrive memory will always be degrees slower than RAM. RAM on the other hand is a small chunk of memory that is "temporary" memory, but very fast. Its speed is determined by the type of RAM (DDR2 being the current common one for notebooks, though DDR3 is available with some motherboards (you can ignore this, though, as you can only handle 2 gigs max of DDR with your system). The motherboard will determine the limits for the RAM that can be installed.)

When running *ANYTHING* on your computer, and I mean ANYTHING, it must first be loaded into RAM to be accessed by the CPU. The computer doesn't directly access the harddrive. So this means when your operating system is loaded (Windows XP) the entirety of all running processes for the OS have to be loaded into RAM.

Now, Microsoft claims that Windows XP only requires a minimum of 64 megs of RAM, but recommends 128 megs. I challenge you to find me a Windows XP system that only uses 128 megs out of the box. It's not atypical for an XP system to chew through all 512 megs of your RAM, leaving no RAM available for other applications. (Interestingly, the default setup for your laptop is only 256 megs of RAM, yet yours is reporting 512.)

What happens when there's no RAM left? The system has to then start trading things into what is called "Virtual Memory." VM is nothing more than a file on the harddrive that will temporarily hold information that SHOULD be in RAM, so the RAM can load more info. For instance, say you have a process that's using RAM, but you want to watch your YouTube video. As the video is ready to play, the system will take the other process's data that's in RAM, write it to the harddrive, load your video into RAM in its place, play a portion of it, write the video to the harddrive, load the data for the process to RAM, let it run for a split second (so it doesn't lock up), write it back to the harddrive, load your video into RAM and play a short clip, etc. etc. etc.

The result of low RAM on your system is that applications will open slowly (seconds or minutes, instead of instantly or a few seconds) and they will seem slow to respond, will stutter, etc.

With enough RAM, your system can freely open as much as it needs into RAM, and ignore the virtual memory and all the slowdowns that it causes.

Now, all of this being said, NO lack of RAM will cause a streaming video to take 5 1/2 hours to play. This is 100% going to be related to your downspeed. (Go to www.speedtest.net and post your results.) RAM slowdowns tend to be most noticeable when shutting down, or starting up your computer, apps will open a little more slowly, they will be slower to respond to button clicks, and video will be very choppy.

Anything that is causing a YouTube video to take HOURS will be due to the system simply waiting to get the video in the first place. RAM wouldn't slow down the receiving of the video, but it would cause the video to play weird once it's downloaded.

So, all this being said, here's the summary: Your system has a 1.7 Ghz processor, and your RAM is most likely 333 Mhz DDR. If you bump your memory up to a gig, you should see a pretty significant improvement in that your computer will, overall, just "feel" faster. It'll be more responsive, and working with large documents will be many, many times faster. This won't, however, affect your YouTube experience (unless you were getting jittery video often, not the same as "buffering" video.)

If you see "buffering" for a long time, your internet connection is your bottleneck. A test on www.SpeedTest.net will likely confirm this. However, if you get decent numbers on SpeedTest, then we could have something more sinister going on, though I suspect you'll find your numbers well below the 1 mbps rate.

This brings us to actually changing the RAM. I've been out of the PC hardware realm (professional programmer now) for a few years, and was unable to find a manual for your particular model. However, if memory serves, this image should be a fairly accurate representation of the underside of your system:
http://www.javin-inc.com/temp/thinkpad.JPG

Don't quote me, but I BELIEVE the red circle will indicate the only screw you will need to remove to access the RAM. There should also be a small clip holding the RAM in place that you'll want to pinch to get the RAM out, and make sure that the new RAM snaps into place. (Sometimes you'll have additional empty RAM beds, and you can just put your RAM in there and end up with 1.5 gigs, but I suspect you'll have two 256 gig chips in there.)
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92033:
Phew. Thanks again for your most indepth educational lesson. I appreciate all your help more than you realize. I attempted to answer this last night, typing in more than twice the amount of text as your to me, then suddenly realized there was a glitch and I was on another page...lost it all into the ionisphere. :-( Rather than try to retype all I wrote, I shut 'r down and went to sleep. Now I'm trying to recall all I wrote last night but failed to get mailed. I'm not a traditional typist, rather a one-finger bloke so you can understand the frustration there. I do, however, type at a reasonably good speed. With that said, let's continue. I went to search for Configuration of this IBM Laptop ThinkPad 23738TU and am copy and pasting it here. It's relevant to what I have to say...here it is: ********************************************************************************** Overview Specs Features Includes Warranty Supplies IBM ThinkPad T42 2373 Specifications Part # 23738TU Key Specifications IBM ThinkPAD T42 2373 Manufacturer IBM Manufacturer Part # 23738TU Processor Type Intel Pentium M 735 1.7 GHz Data Bus Speed 400 MHz Cache Memory Type L2 cache Installed Size 2 MB RAM Installed Size 256 MB Technology DDR SDRAM Memory Speed 333 MHz System Type Notebook Storage Hard Drive 40 GB, 5400 rpm Storage Controller Type IDE Optical Storage Type DVD ROM Read Speed 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD) Display Type 14.1" TFT active matrix Graphics Processor / Vendor ATI MOBILITY RADEON 7500 Video Memory 32 MB Max. Resolution 1024 x 768 Audio Output Type Sound card Audio Codec AD1981B Compliant Standards DirectSound, AC '97, SoundMAX Telecom Modem Fax / modem Max. Transfer Rate 56 Kbps Protocols & Specifications ITU V.90 Networking Networking Network adapter Data Link Protocol Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet Expansion Expansion Slots Total 1 x front accessible Expansion Slots Total 2 ( 1 ) x memory 1 ( 1 ) x CardBus - type II Interfaces 1 x docking / port replicator, 240 pin docking 2 x Hi Speed USB, 4 pin USB Type A 1 x parallel, IEEE 1284 (EPP/ECP), 25 pin D Sub (DB25) 1 x display / video, VGA, 15 pin HD D Sub (HD 15) 1 x infrared, IrDA 1 x modem, phone line, RJ11 1 x network, Ethernet 10BaseT/100BaseTX, RJ45 1 x display / video, S video output, 4 pin mini DIN 1 x microphone, input, mini phone mono 3.5 mm 1 x headphones, output, mini phone stereo 3.5 mm Miscellaneous Features Locking device keyhole (cable lock), administrator password, hard drive password, power-on password, asset ID, IBM Embedded Security Subsystem 2.0 Compliant Standards ACPI 2.0, ACPI 1.0b, FCC Class B certified, CE, MPR II, UL, BSMI, cUL, NOM, VCCI-II Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Professional Software Included Adobe Acrobat Reader, PC Doctor, IBM Rapid Restore Ultra, IBM Update Connector, InterVideo WinDVD, IBM Access Connections, IBM Access Support, Access IBM,(OEM) Battery Technology lithium ion Capacity 4400 mAh Average Run Time 5 hour(s) Installed Qty 1 Ambient Temperature Min Operating Temperature 50 °F Max Operating Temperature 90 °F Humidity Range Operating 8 - 80% Dimensions (W x D x H) Unit 12.2 in x 10 in x 1.1 in Weight Unit 4.9 lbs Warranty 3 Years Limited Warranty on parts and labor. IBM 23738TU Summary ********************************************************************************* NOTE...I DON'T BELIEVE THIS...I JUST TYPED FORTY MINUTES REPLY HERE and it instantly scrolled up like speed of lightning and disappeared like last night. I'll ATTEMP to try again later. So please don't reply yet as you need to read my discoveries in changing the RAM chip. Meanwhile, thanks again...take care. ~ ED ******************************************************************************* TRY #3...I'm Back :-) Your diagram showing where the RAM chip is located was right on. Thanks. Here's my DISCOVERY :-( The RAM chip installed was NOT a 512mg...but only a 256mg chip. The ads ans specs say it's a 512mg...NOT SO. I was lied to by either the manufacturer or refurbishing company who removed the original 512 chip and reinstalled a 256 chip. I was lied to by the Tiger Direct guy on the phone. There are NOT two chip slots...only one. So I now have a useless removed 256mb RAM chip. Replaced with the 1gb RAM chip I just installed. So instead of having 1-1/2 gb RAM, I only have 1gb. Here's the crux. To. go to 2gb RAM I'd need to buy a full 2gb RAM CHIP and discard the 1gb for which I just paid $39.99 ($45.00 with s/h). This means another output of almost a hundred dollars plus the $45.00 just wasted because they wont accept return once the sealed chip plastic was opened...even though I had no idea there was only ONE SLOT in this PC instead of TWO like the Tiger Guy said. Now...crux #2...this new 1gb RAM does nothing more to increase speed. I just watched a 2.01 MINUTE YouTube video which took a HALF HOUR to load, so I threw the money away for nothing, eh? There is no noticeable change except the 'speed' shows it now as 41.2 kbps instead of 40 kbps. Okay...now HOW do I get to speed this thing up to normal viewing in real time? I also saw an ad for 4bg RAM Gateway laptop with 120gb hard drive for $404.99 which is all suped-up with everything. I had to upgrade a LOT since I got this only four months ago...taking over a hundred hours to load it, like Internet Explorer 5 to 6 and then to 8 and now to 9. I'm using AVAST Anti-Virus, after trying for 23 hours to get ADVAR, then find out it didn't load because of problem on the servor's end. Added Firefox and upgraded twice. Loaded MS Protection but it created more problems so I deleted it...now with AVAST which I like. Soooo...I've literally spent over 200 hours to get this thng where it's at now, plus the wasted money for the upgraded RAM chip.and I still don't have increased speed. HOW do I get it? IF the processor has to be changed does this mean I have to gut the thing and install a new motherboard? If so, what kind of money cost are we talking here? I bought this four months ago as a refurbished unit only because I was able to get it on payments of only $25.00 a month. If I had to wait to get $400.00 cash I'd never have it. :-) Okay...that's it for the moment. Thanks much again for your help offering and detailed instructions...appreciate it more than you realize. Best Wishes And God's Blessings To You And Yours In Everything Always. Most Respectfully... ~ ED 
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Javin007:
Well, let's start with the RAM. If you're running windows XP, you can assume all the extra processes (virus scanners, and whatnot) will be eating up about 512 megs of the RAM. First thing to do is check DXDIAG again (start/run) and verify that it's now reporting the correct amount of RAM. (Don't be surprised if it's like 9 hundred something megs or slightly more. It won't report 1024 or 1 gig.)

This being said, that will leave you with the other 512 for your applications. This box won't be running the latest and greatest 3D games, but I suspect it was never intended to. If the heaviest hitter you'll have running is along the lines of photoshop, the 1 gig of RAM you have now should be plenty sufficient. I wouldn't worry about getting 2 gigs. Not for this rig, anyway.

Also, Avast is a great (and free) virus protection, every bit as good as Symantec's Norton, so good choice there.

If your youtube videos are choking out, we need to start by verifying that it's an actual speed throttling problem. Go to www.SpeedTest.net and run the speed test. Come back with the results.

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MRedu5 years ago
I hope people don't get put off buying a refurbished laptop seeing as the guy who had the problem was using a refurbished one... They are very reliable and very cheap!
920337 years ago
Phew...Okay. I deleted the posts from the other Instructable as you suggested. Before you mentioned to go back to DXDIAG, I had already done so to check if my new RAM chip was registered...it is...1gb. Yesterday I tried to view another YouTube video...5-1/2 minutes long. It took 1-1/2 HOURS...just to load the FIRST '1-1/2 MINUTES' of it...gave up and shut it down. So, nothing has changed to improve the Speed. On the contray, I don't see ANY kind of noticeable improvement or increased speed with the 1gb RAM chip installed. A half hour ago I further did as you suggested...went to SpeedTest,net. Here's what came-up (along with the 'extra' frustration :-)... 215 Registry Errors Found: 155 System Related...60 User Related - Missing or Invalid Part-Total 215..."Click Here to Eliminate Problems". [ I DIDN'T ]. Then I accidentally hit another key and it jumped to this Screen: SYSTEM TWEAK: 41...SPEED TOOLS-3...JUNK FILES - 14,175...- 14,216. "Clean & Defragment Your System For A Quicker PC" I clicked on "Next"...Here's what I got... "Clean & Defragment Registry For Quicker PC" -- "REGISTER NOW" "Improveaved PC Performance & Optimize Your Operating System" --"REGISTER NOW" "Manage & Upgrade Drivers For Optimal Speed & Stability" --"NOT INSTALLED--INSTALL NOW" Now here's my multi-layered frustration that kicked-in [ :-) ]... IF I clicked on "MANAGE & UPGRADE DRIVERS---" what will happen? I didn't want to click on the "NEXT" button to "CLEAN" my 14,173 JUNK Files as I don't know WHAT they refer to as "JUNK" without telling me what they are. I don't want to lose saved stuff by having it sent to the JUNK box...overloading IT...and later discovering all the stuff I saved is in the JUNK box and how am I going to resave what I want to keep if that's the case? They should tell you WHAT the JUNK FILES are first. Right? I did this once before because I keep getting a popup screen telling me that by clicking on it I could 'minimize' files and free up more memory. YEAH...RIGHT. I did and regreted it. It sent hundreds of files I saved to the JUNK box...PLUS...added every one as a shortcut icon to my home screen...took me hours to clean off the shortcuts plus the files are STILL in the JUNK box and I hope some glitch doesn't wipe them all off in an instant like it did once before...cleaned my JUNK box of ALL files, most of what I still wanted to save. Yoy IZ Me. :-) Okay, from this information, can you suggest what I should do? I DON'T want to lose stuff called "JUNK FILES" if I don't know WHICH ones the system is arbitrarily classifying as JUNK. Thanks again for your great wisdom. As Ever... ~ ED
Javin007 (author)  920337 years ago
K, so apparently speedtest.net is now trying to spam you to these 'registry cleaning' sites, because that's DEFINITELY not what you should've been looking at. If these "tests" were web-based, then there's a 99.9% chance that the numbers they're giving you (215 registry errors found, etc.) are complete and utter bullshit, and mean nothing. They're just trying to sell you something. Completely ignore the "run a free scan" button. It's a scam. Just click on "Begin Test" and wait.
92033 Javin0077 years ago
Okay...followed your instructions. Again it took me to the SCAN button. I ignored it and clicked on the SPEED TEST. Here's what came up...don't know what this means to you...all Gree. k to me mixed in with a lotta Polish. :-) DOWNLOAD - 0.03MB/S.....UPLOAD...0.13 MB/S....PING - 267MB..."Compared Rolling Average Worldwide - 7.56MBPS. - OHIO 7.03MBPS" My ISP shows "40.0 mbps" when I login. Does this mean I should install a M-80 under this thing and run for my life?...or will just 'plastique' do?. lol.
Javin007 (author)  920337 years ago
So this is our answer. You're being throttled SEVERELY on your internet speeds. Your download speeds are 0.03 mbps (as a comparison, with most cable internet, your speeds are at least 1.5 mbps. You're running about 50 times slower. This means if something should take me 1 minute to download, it'll take you about an hour. ) Your up speed is 0.13 mbps, which is unusual as upspeed is usually slower than down speed. This makes me think there could be some configuration/driver issues (we can hope, can't we?). Your ping is 267 (I assume that's supposed to be ms, not mb) which isn't actually horrible. This means you're able to bounce back and forth to the server at only slighly less than a normal rate, but your throughput is severely choked out. Now, that being said, the next question is, what kind of internet do you have? If you say Dialup, then we've already got our answers and there's no fixing it. :/
92033 Javin0077 years ago
You're absolutely correct...IT DOES take 1 HOUR to load a 1 MINUTE YouYube video. Like I mentioned earlier...it took 5-1/2 HOURS to load a viewing 5-1/2 MINUTE video....1-1/2 hours for 1-1/2 MINUTES. etc. As you can imagine it factually takes a whole day just to try watching a few to several videos...which I frustrating as heck. :-) THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES OVER for all the TIME and ENERGY spent on this for me. I don't know how I can pay you back. :-( Yup..."DIALUP"...waaaaaa. to "no fixing it". Now that the problem is discovered, let me ask one more question. IF I go to the faster satalite or whatever it's called, speed system...will THAT resolve my problem?...to be able to use live response? Faster connection to viewing YouTube videos, other than just instant internet access to boot the computer? It'll cost me $19.95 month compared to the $12.95 I'm paying now. That's the only reason I went with Dialup...what I always had years ago. So, when I got this refurbished laptop PC four months ago I went with Dialup. Oh...one more question...DID this PROBLEM EXIST the day I got this computer (unknowingly to me at the time)? Reason I ask is because I just discovered YouTube about six weeks ago and wonder if everything I had to load onto it to make it 'normal', created this problem. Or, is there no way of telling?
Javin007 (author)  920337 years ago
You should look to see if DSL is available in your area. In many cases, DSL is available before anything else. (Except, of course, dialup.) You COULD use Satellite internet, and to be completely honest, it would probably be the best option for you. I'm personally not fond of satellite because I write online video games as a hobby. The way satellite works you have a 3 second lag with each and ever connection before the data starts streaming. Now, for you, this would be unnoticeable since you're just trying to view videos, and download files. For a gamer, that 3 seconds is the difference between getting your shot off, and thinking your game is locked up. I'd first start with DSL, and find out what their upspeeds and downspeeds are, and how much they charge per month. Then find out the same thing from the satellite guys (also take installation into account. I don't know what they charge for the satellite dish, or how much surrounding trees/rain effect it). If DSL is prohibitively expensive (or unavailable) don't be worried about going with Satellite. If it's roughly the same cost, then I'd go with DSL assuming you can get decent speeds from where you are. (Your distance from the hub will determine your DSL speeds.) Best of luck! Hopefully you can watch some YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix online before long! :) (We're getting rid of our cable here since pretty much everything's available online now.)
92033 Javin0077 years ago
Okay. I really meant to say "DSL" instead of 'SATALITE' but my mind went blank and couldn't think of the proper term. I'll call my ISP later today to see what kind of Speed their system will produce for me. Don't want the Satalite Dish system. DSL is $19.95 month compared to $12.95 month I'm now paying for Dialup, as mentioned above. Thanks again.
92033 920337 years ago
Hmmm...gonna cost me a LOT more than I thought. I phoned my ISP. He said difference of Dialup at 56-K and Broadband at 1,527-K. I 'thought' it would cost $19.95 month, but he said 'that' was for 'accelerated dialup' which I don't want because it wont make any difference to me. Broadand is $49.95 MONTH (GULP!!). Ironically, my local phone company also poned earlier with 'their special' broadband package...also $49.95 MONTH, which includes my phone service and unlimited long distance phone calling. So...if I want out of this problem I have to get broadband at three times the cost I'm paying now...JUST TO WATCH YouTube videos. (bummer). That's like saying...here's a great FREE CAR...but it'll cost you $30,000. for an engine and all the works to make it run. :-) What about WI-FI? Still need Broadband? (Hmmm...guess it would as you still need a ISP connection. An 'Air Card'?. Same thing? STILL fifty or sixty bucks a month for one of those, eh? Hmmm...any rich uncles or 'Angel' hidden in the woodwork ? Ahhh...light bulb jusy went-on...I'll jest axe Bill Gates next time we do lunch. :-) Will keep ya posted. Take care. ~ ED
Punkguyta 920337 years ago
Actually man you can set up a WIRELESS dialup connection. It would merely consist of having an old beater computer sitting in your closet, like say an old pentium II or III. You would then buy a cheapy $20-30 usb wifi stick, preforably 802.11g or 802.11n (N version has one hell of a range, my 802.11n router works a block away from my house!). Assuming it's an old enough computer, I'll assume it already has a pci or isa type dial up modem installed. So once you have XP on it and all the drivers installed for everything, including your wireless usb stick, it's pretty easy to set up XP to share the connection from one "network domain" to another "network domain". In other words, transfer the internet connection from the dialup modem over to the wireless stick. And yes, while wifi usb sticks are usually used for connecting to 802.11 wireless networks, they can also be used to broadcast a network and make it "appear as a wifi router". Thus eliminating the cost of an entire wifi router ($50-90) for a decent one these days). While the broadcast power will not be that great because they contain small antennas, they work just fine unless you need to go like 3 stories up in a house. :P
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