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Speed of data transfer is affected by viruses and malware, just as the inability to get Web pages at all. There are, however, some other steps you can take to try to resolve these issues.
Windows Dial-up Networking and most Internet software have an indicator of connection speed. Usually, you can view the speed by moving the pointer over the appropriate icon in the System Tray, as shown in Figure 10.19.
Figure 10.19: Viewing the Internet connection speed.
If you have slow speeds, such as under 38 Kbps with a 56K modem, and/or the Internet connection is frequently dropped for no apparent reason, the problem might be in the telephone line. Hotel room telephone lines often have extraordinarily slow speeds; it is unusual to connect at faster than 19 Kbps from a hotel room, regardless of whether the property is a cheap motel or a four-star property (although some hotels are installing new telephone systems allowing faster connections). There is nothing that the user can do about it unless the hotel has a high-speed network connection, as a small, but increasing number, do. The user should test the connection speed from different residential telephone lines. Chances are that most will be faster than hotel lines are. If, however, the connection speed is very slow or the connection gets dropped frequently in a residence, there might be a problem with either a noisy telephone line or with the ISP. To attempt to rule out the ISP, the user should sign up for a free ISP such as NetZero (netzero.net) or Juno (juno.com) just to test the connection speed and reliability (assuming that the free service isn't using the same telephone number to connect as the primary ISP is). If they are significantly faster or more reliable, the problem is most likely with the ISP. If they are no faster or better, the problem is probably in the telephone line. This could be a problem with internal house wiring or with external telephone company wiring, or both. Have the user check with the telephone company, noting the possibility that there could be a substantial charge in some cases for the telephone company to repair house telephone wiring.
When setting up a dial-up Internet connection, the user must know if the line has Call Waiting from the telephone company. Call Waiting is the feature that signals someone during a telephone call that another call is coming in and allows switching between one call and another. Normally, those users with Call Waiting wouldn't want to be disconnected from the Internet every time another call comes in, so most or all connection programs have a provision to dial the deactivation code before the telephone number. In most or all cases, this code is *70 (1170 with a pulse-only line). However, having the software programmed to dial this on a laptop will likely cause the connection attempt to fail when dialing from a telephone line without Call Waiting, such as a hotel room. Therefore, the user should not use *70 when setting up a connection to use on a line without Call Waiting.
Telephone company voice mail is very helpful for those who have dial-up Internet service. With voice mail, the telephone will never be busy. If the user has both Call Waiting and voice mail, the call waiting should be disabled in an Internet connection. A problem that can occur with voice mail is if the telephone company uses a pulsing dial tone to indicate a new message. In some cases, the modem will not detect a dial tone. To solve this problem, either listen to all your messages before trying to connect, or add three commas to the beginning of the telephone number to dial. Commas are seen as pause indicators by the system.
There are also Internet answering machines and software. We haven't tested any of the hardware devices, but their advertisements say that they allow incoming calls to come in when the telephone line is connected to the Internet. The most notable software-based system is the CallWave® Internet Answering Machine® (callwave.com). This software requires Call Forwarding from the local telephone company. You simply forward the calls from the telephone line to a toll-free number provided by CallWave, and callers will hear an announcement prompting them to leave a message. Their message will then be played on your computer while you are online. AOL has a feature to accomplish this as well for an extra charge.
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