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Fixing and Tweaking Your Network : Maximizing Network Performance

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Is your network running more slowly than it should? A fast, easy way to measure the performance of all active network connections is to use Windows Task Manager. To view current networking statistics, open Windows Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc and then click the Networking tab.

In the example shown on the next page, two network connections are active, so two graphs appear, one for each connection. Note that neither connection is close to saturating available network bandwidth.

On most networks, the speed of the connection to the internet is the limiting factor for network performance. Fast Ethernet connections, with a theoretical maximum transfer speed of 100 megabits per second, run 10 to 30 times faster than even the fastest cable or DSL connections, and Gigabit Ethernet dials that up by another factor of 10. Wireless connections that are having difficulty reaching a base station might display performance problems as they automatically throttle down to lower connection speeds. This slowdown will be most obvious when trying to transfer large files between two computers on the network.




Warning:

The internet is awash with sites that claim to offer helpful advice and utilities that you can use to tweak settings such as the TCP Receive Window (RWIN) and Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) values, with the goal of improving the performance of a TCP/ IP-based network. Beware! Most of these articles are based on TCP/IP settings from previous Windows versions and do not apply to Windows 7, which generally does a good job of configuring connections properly. (The Cable Guy at TechNet explained TCP/IP performance enhancements in Windows Vista, which also apply to Windows 7; see w7io.com/1910.) In fact, tweaking settings without understanding their consequences is a near-certain route to slower performance, and it might result in connection problems when your tweaked packets hit routers and other connection points on the internet that can't handle them. If you feel compelled to experiment, set a System Restore checkpoint first, and read the definitive and exhaustive Tweaking FAQ at the Broadband Reports site, w7io.com/1911, before you fire up Registry Editor.


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