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Computer and Internet problems

Page history last edited by R H Johnston 2 years, 4 months ago

Computer and Internet problems


Making sure your computer works well for distanced ringing


Lets start with the obvious - don't let other people in your household use the internet at the same time!


Distanced ringing places a lot of demands on the computer because the ringing events are time critical, and 3 or 4 pieces of software are co-operating. You  do not want the computer doing other jobs at the same time. However the computer will probably think there is a lot spare computing resources to do things like system updates and run other background programs.  But these activities can cause big delays.  So we have to try to avoid them.


Ideally therefore, and strongly recommended, you want a dedicated machine with only the absolutely minimally needed software installed, no firewall or virus protection, and all updates turned off.   (Not relevant to dumbbell use, but note that tablets, and mobile phones, iphones etc., impose  too much latency for use for distanced ringing.) 


Lacking that, close down all the open windows of programs you do not need.


Turning system updates off is easy before Win10, but Win10 makes this very difficult, especially on "Home" editions.  What is easy to do is to limit the bandwidth available for uploads (Start/ settings/ settings/ update and security /windows Update / Advanced settings / delivery options/ Advanced options.  Find  "Absolute bandwidth", and set the two limits on bandwidth to 1 Mbps - which is better than nothing).


Program updates are more of a problem - it can help to turn the computer on a long time before you need it, so it can update everything before you start using it.


How suitable is the computer?


The computer does not need to be enormously powerful, but it does need to be good at doing more than one thing at once, and so the use of a computer that has multiple cores (at least 2 and preferably 4) will make it less likely to have problems with missed strikes, or problems with hardware driver related delays (Deferred Procedure Calls), as follows:


Testing the computer for Deferred Procedure Call (DPC) latency


For Windows Vista and above Download and run this program


Initially just run it with no programs open.  If you get a red message as in the image below and/or the " highest measured interrupt to process latency (microsecs)" is above 2000 (i.e. 2millisecs) then you may have a problem with hardware drivers, which can result in COM port signal data being missed.  Make sure that you have the correct and up to date drivers for the hardware in your computer.  If problems remain try googling the name of your computer and the clash identified by the program.  Sometimes the problem can be overcome by disabling the problem hardware (but not if it is something you need to use to do distanced ringing). In the past I had a computer I could not cure, and so I had to find an alternative.


If all is well then do the same check with all the distanced ringing programs running.



Problems with the internet


Do not try to use mobile internet (i.e. via a  mobile phone connection), because the latencies are far too long and uncertain.  


Use an ethernet cable (direct wired connection) in preference to a wifi link to your router, as wifi has longer latencies especially if the signal is weak.  If you must use wifi, place the computer close to the router.


Do not connect via wifi extender system - as this also increases delays.


Speed test

Test the speed of the internet connection, from the computer used for distanced ringing.  From a browser load https://www.speedtest.net/

The results may vary by time of day, and will be lower if other people in your house are using the internet at the same time.

A wired connection may give faster results.


If the speed is not what you expect, contact your broadband supplier. If it varies a lot by time of day, the internet is becoming overloaded.  Check out whether neighbours using different ISPs have the same problem or not.  If they are not, then change to a better ISP - some don't have enough equipment..


Ringing room does not need a lot of bandwidth.


Zoom needs a lot - allegedly about 1Mbps each way - but in practice it seems to use more than that.  The more "headroom" your connection has the better.  Turn off the Zoom video can make a big difference


Ping Latency

A more common issue is ping latency.


Use one of these programs to get an ongoing track of the quality of connection - the first is better


1) Download the program from herepinglogger.zip : For windows 10 extract the zip to a folder and use the batch file installer to install it. (Let me know if it doesn't work for you.)  It tracks up to 4 servers, and is ready configured to track ringingroom.com, google, handbell stadium, and a server used by Zoom.  The last one is only a proxy for zoom performance, as zoom servers are not pingable.


2) Alternatively Download the pinglogger program from this website: https://pinglogger.co.uk/ (a local copy is here)  It has to be run from an administrator account (or with elevated privileges) in  Vista and above.  If using ringingroom in basic settings, set the Host to ringingroom.co.uk and x axis 0 to 6000 and in advanced settings set Interval to 1000 and Timeout to 900.  Then start the program.  The chart will show how reliable the connection is to ringing room. 


What should I see?

Ideally you are looking for normal values of less than 25ms.  There will be occasions when it is a lot longer, and those long delays will be reflected in delayed sounds.  100 ms is a 1/10 of a second, and very noticeable.  If there are many values above 100ms then you may have to get your broadband connection checked out.  A wired connection to the router sometimes helps.


If you have a long or erratic ping performance, install this program - ping plotterpingplotter_v4_12_0.exe - you only need the free version and turn off upgrade..  This shows where in the journey the delays are.  If they are in the first couple of stages, your ISP is at fault and you should contact them.


This page https://www.pingplotter.com/wisdom/solutions/how-to-troubleshoot-zoom has some helpful graphs which tell  you how to interpret the pingplotter results



RHJ Updated 9.11.2020, 7.1.2021, 8.1.2021, 29.11.2021

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