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Issue #775: May 29 – Jun 4, 2022

Q: I’m running Windows 11.  It’s a multiuser system.  The Internet connection is ‘wired’, going through my wireless router to a cable modem.  The problem is that after Windows startup under my wife’s account, when starting a browser, it is very slow to connect to the Internet.  I frequently have to start a command prompt and start pinging sites, or pinging my wireless router, or doing NSLookups. At first, they fail.  After a while they work, then the browser can connect to a website.

 How can I figure out why it’s taking so long to get an Internet connection upon startup?

 – Andrew C.
Raleigh, North Carolina

A:  Wow – lots of ground to cover here, Andrew, so let’s jump right in.  First of all, I need to explain some of your concepts and terminology to my other readers.  Windows is, by the way it is designed “a multiuser system”.  This simply means that you can create multiple user accounts on a single PC, and each user can personalize system behaviors to their own liking.  This includes colors, fonts, shortcuts that appear on the Windows desktop, files in folders such as “My Documents” and in many cases, program configurations and more.  Andrew is simply saying that his PC is configured with separate accounts for him and his wife, and perhaps other family members.  As for his statement about how the computer is connected, most wireless routers also include a built-in wired switch that allows you to multiplex the Cat5 cable coming from the modem into multiple outputs.  Andrew is making use of such a wired port to connect this PC to the Internet.  Such a configuration has both advantages and disadvantages over connecting via Wi-Fi.  One typical reason to connect like this is that it’s usually faster to connect via a cable, and not all computers have wireless network adapters on board, but wired ports are very common.

Now, Andrew, I wish you had gone into more detail on why you feel that “have to” ping websites, or your router, much less perform NSLookup on them.  You appear to have a healthy modicum of knowledge on the way a PC communicates with a website.  At least, you have, as they say “enough knowledge to be dangerous.”  Just in case you know the “whats” but not the corresponding “whys” let me just say that the commands you’re running are intended to test a particular part of your Internet connection. But, because of issues occurring in that user account, the PC might not even be able to contact the services these commands are designed to test.

The PING command, which is an acronym for Packet Inter-Network Groper (yes really!) is a simple Internet program that is used to test and verify if the server at a given web address is online and responsive.  The use of PING is not a part of the normal startup sequence of a PC.  In fact, I rarely use it myself, and almost never for sites on the Internet at large.  When I do need it, it’s usually to test some gear on my own LAN that’s not working properly, or when I’m testing configurations that are more exotic than would be used by your typical home user.

The same goes for your use of NSLookup. This utility, which is shorthand for Name Server Lookup, is a command allows you to perform queries against your Domain Name Server, or DNS.  This is yet another web service, whose job in this case is to translate friendly names (like Google.com or Microsoft.com) into their corresponding IP address, so you don’t need to remember those ugly, forgettable numeric addresses for each site you want to access.  Like PING, use of NSLookup is not a normal part of system startup.

Since neither of these methods is going to fix any problems you’re having, I recommend you don’t use them, since at best, they’re just slowing down your machine as it struggles to come up and connect.  What I will recommend is to look at the Performance Monitor by typing [Winkey+R] and entering PerfMon.  Take a look at the values for CPU, RAM, HDD, and Network, and trace the PIDs of services in use to see if anything stands out. You’ll be looking for anything that appears to be consuming abnormal amounts of system resources.  Your best bet for finding a problem is to do a couple of screen captures, then repeat this process for the account that is not having a problem and compare them side by side.  Remember, logging into Windows with different usernames changes a lot of what’s going on under the hood.  Hopefully, you’ll find that the misbehaving account is running something that the other account is not, and you can tweak it up to speed things along.


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