Introduction and Details

Speed test showing the slow speeds
Speed test showing the actual expected speeds

Do you have a Laptop with Windows Vista installed? Are you experiencing slow internet speeds? The Windows help page didn’t help? You have come to the right place. Make sure to see the credits at the end of this.

Let’s try something first. Go ahead and plug in your laptop and try browsing the internet. Give it a few minutes first. Did the speed change? If you answered yes then continue reading, otherwise skip to the section titled “Other Resources.”

Power Options dialog showing the power plan

This issue is an excellent example of a feature that appears like a bug. Basically, the power plan on your computer is setup to put the wireless in power saving mode when running on battery. This low power mode is preventing your wireless card from performing optimally and therefore degrading your internet experience. In my tests on the HP Verve I saw a drastic difference between the two configurations. I used speedtest.net to test the speeds which showed that with the maximum power saving mode my download rate was 138kb/s while the upload rate was only 16kb/s with a 999ms latency. Now, compare that to the maximum performance mode of speeds at 2,790kb/s download, 218kb/s upload and 130ms latency! Obviously, the tests were performed on the same computer and the same service provider.

Now, you are probably wondering how you can change this setting. Well, here is the path.

  1. Go the start menu and type in ‘power’
  2. Select ‘Power Options’
  3. Your active power plan would already be checked so click the “Change plan settings” link right beneath it.
  4. In the dialog that pops up open the ‘Wireless Adapter Settings’ node and then the ‘Power Saving Mode’.
  5. Set the ‘On battery’ setting to your desired value (suggested ‘Maximum Performance’)
  6. Click ‘Apply’ and then ‘OK’
  7. Close the remaining ‘Power Options’ form

One disclaimer: doing the above will probably affect your battery life. I have not had a chance to analyze the difference but doing so probably won’t help many people because every laptop will have a different result anyways. To me most of the times wireless performance is more important than the battery life so I have changed my power plans accordingly. For the times when I do care about the battery life, I have created another power plan with this setting set to ‘Maximum Power Saving.’

One more thing; this doesn’t apply to all laptops. My Lenovo X60 tablet, for instance, performs the same in either setting.

Other Resources

If the above did not solve your problem then you might want to try the following links.

Credits

I tried several things listed on the Tech Support Guy post and several other google hits. Finally, the post by stefanbech on the Tech Support Guy is what worked. So, to save others the same trouble, I expanded on those findings and documented them here.


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