martedì 30 agosto 2016

Find out if Windows 10 is limiting your Internet speed

If you noticed an Internet speed drop after upgrading to the latest version of Windows 10, the following troubleshooting guide may help resolve it.
It may be particularly useful if the Internet speed was fine on previous versions of Windows, and is no longer after the upgrade to Windows 10 Anniversary Update edition.
Microsoft introduced a feature called Window Auto-Tuning back in Windows Vista, and has made it part of any newer version of Windows as well.
Set to on by default, it is designed to improve performance for programs that receive TCP data over a network.
While data transfers should be more efficient as a general rule, users may experience slower than usual data transfer speeds under certain conditions or even connectivity issues.

Managing Window Auto-Tuning in Windows 10

window auto tuning
The first thing you may want to do is check the status of Window Auto-Tuning. If it is turned off for instance, it is likely that it is not the case for the slow downs, but if it is set, it may very well be the culprit.
Note: you don't need administrative privileges for running the command above, but you will need them for modifying the Window Auto-Tuning parameter.
  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe, hold down Shift and Ctrl keys, and hit enter.
  2. Confirm the UAC prompt that opens.
  3. Run the command netsh interface tcp show global.
Locate the "Receive Window Auto-Tuning Level" value under TCP Global Parameters. If it is not set to disabled, it is being used by Windows to optimize TCP connections.
You may want to disable the feature to run connection tests and see if it is the cause for the limited Internet speed that you are getting out of the connection.
Run the following command to disable Window Auto-Tuning on Windows 10:
  • netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled
You get ok as verification that the value was set correctly. You may verify this by running netsh interface tcp show global again.
fix slow internet speed
Once disabled, start downloads just like before and monitor the speeds that you get. You may want to fire up a P2P client, Usenet program, FTP client or server program to find out if disabling Auto-Tuning Level did resolve the issue.
If it did not, you may want to turn it on again. This is done by running the following command:
  • netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=normal
Ok should be returned again to indicate that the new value was set correctly. It is recommended to check the global values again to make sure that is indeed the case.
If you want to know more about Window Auto-Tuning, check out the excellent analysis of the feature here.
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StorDiag.exe: new Windows 10 Storage Diagnostic tool

StorDiag.exe is a new command line drive tool to analyze storage on devices running Windows 10 that Microsoft added silently to the Anniversary Update.
The program is a diagnostic tool that you may use to identify storage related issues. Issues that it may detect including corruption of the NTFS file system.
There is more to the program than that though. You may use it to run a an ETW trace as well, and check the logs, Registry files and event files StorDiag.exe creates when it is done with the processing.
The application runs several tools in the background for that, including CheckDisk, fsutil and fltmc.

Using StorDiag.exe

The application can only be run from an elevated command prompt. Since it is only available in Windows 10's Anniversary Edition, instructions are only provided for this particular version of Windows.

Step 1: Open an elevated command prompt

administrator command prompt
First thing you need to do is open an elevated command prompt.
  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe, hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys, and hammer on the Return key.
  2. Confirm the UAC prompt that is displayed afterwards.
  3. The elevated command prompt window should open. If it reads Administrator in the title, all is well.

Step 2: The command

stordiag.exe commands
The program supports three parameters that you can run it with. You may run stordiag.exe /? first to display them on the screen.
StorDiag [-collectEtw] [-out <PATH>]
-collectEtw           Collect a 30-second long ETW trace if run from an elevated session
-checkFSConsistency   Checks for the consistency of the NTFS file system
-out <PATH>           Specify the output path. If not specified, logs are saved to %TEMP%\StorDiag

Step 3: Running storage diagnostics

You may run the application with all commands, or only some of them.
If you want to run them all, use the following command to do so:
stordiag.exe -collectEtw -checkFSConsistency -out c:\users\martin\desktop
Note: You need to change "martin" in the out path to the username on your system. You may also leave the -out path part. If you do, all logs are saved to a StorDiag folder on the system's temp folder. Simply copy and paste %TEMP%\StorDiag in the Explorer address bar and the location should open.
The processing takes a couple of minutes tops. It depends largely on the number of storage devices connected to the Windows 10 machine at the time.
The program will check all drives for corruption using CheckDisk, and will collect a 30 second ETW trace. It runs several tools in the background and logs their output.
You find the massive list of log files and event files in the -out directory afterwards.
ChkDsk C.txt
ChkDsk O.txt
ChkDsk P.txt
ChkDsk S.txt
ChkDsk T.txt
<DIR> LocaleMetaData
Volume C Corruption.txt
Volume O Corruption.txt
Volume P Corruption.txt
Volume S Corruption.txt
Volume T Corruption.txt
The CheckDisk information about each drive and potential corruption are probably most useful to users of the operating system.
System administrators find lots of information in the other files that they may use to analyze storage related issues.
StorDiag.exe does not resolve any of the issues that it may report. It is up to you or the system administrator to correct those.
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OpenStreetView launches

OpenStreetView is a free crowd-sourced service by OpenStreetMap that offers street imagery that users of the service push to it while using it.
OpenStreetMap is an open source alternative to Google Maps, Bing Maps and other mapping services. The new OpenStreetView however works different than services like Google StreetView despite the naming similarities.
The service uses imagery that users of it are providing instead of capturing street views using company cars in all regions of the world.
This means that you won't get a full view of a street, but only image captures. Also, the service does not cover all areas yet which means that you may not get imagery in many areas around the world.
That's going to change though when more and more users start to use it and push recorded images while driving to OpenStreetView.
The approach has two advantages over comparable services. First, you may get multiple shots of the same area and not just one. Second, and that is related to the first, shots are taking at different dates which means that you get to see an area at different times.
Also, the data may be more up to date because of the approach. If Google or Bing want to update the data, they need to get cars to move around in the area again to do so. It happens that street view data is severely out of date because of this.
While this may also happen with OpenStreetView data, there is at least a chance that this won't happen if a driver happens to drive around in an area regularly.
You can load OpenStreetView in your browser. The map highlights all areas with street imagery in pink, so that you know where imagery is available and where it is not.
The coverage of San Francisco is particularly good already, but you will notice imagery in Europe as well already. This is limited to highways and interstates mostly though right now. You may also notice that some imagery is upside down. This is caused by users not paying attention to the position of the smartphone.
Mobile apps are provided for Android and iOS that users who want to contribute can use to create imagery and push it to OpenStreetView servers so that they become available to all users of the service.
Watch the following video that provides you with additional details about OpenStreetView

Closing Words

OpenStreetView is an interesting service that crowd-sources street imagery. The approach is the only feasible solution for services that are not backed by companies with multi-billion Dollar budgets.
While coverage depends largely on users, OpenStreetView may come to a point eventually where its imagery is superior to competing services thanks to it being fresher.
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Internet Connection speed tests with HTML5

It makes sense at time to check the connection speed of an Internet connection. Maybe you just got a new line, upgraded an existing one, or are traveling.
Maybe it is just for making sure that you get the advertised connection speed, or making sure that the hotel's Internet connection is sufficient for pushing that Gigabyte video to YouTube or a company server.
Most Internet speed tests up until now used Adobe Flash to power the tests. While that worked, it required Adobe Flash to work at all.
The rise of HTML5 brought along with it services that either added a HTML5 version on top of the existing version, or created new solutions based purely on HTML5.

HTML5 Internet Connection Speed tests

The following guide lists some of the services that provide you with plugin-free speed tests using HTML5.
All tests conducted on an idle machine with 50 Mbps down, 10 Mbps up.

Bandwidth Place

bandwidth place
The service tests the upload and download speed, and the ping. The download speed measured was the lowest in the test with 45.12 Mbps. Upload speed was measured at 9.10 Mbps which was also fairly low.
The service allows you to change servers for the test, but result remained the same or were even worse. The site displays quite a few ads around the content area.


Netflix's is the simplest speed test that we have tested for this article. You open it, it starts testing the download speed right away and displays only it in the interface.
It does not display distracting ads on the page, but links to and Netflix.
The speed was significantly lower than what the line is capable of (46Mbps measured).

Open Speed Test

open speed test
The service tests the download and upload speed of the Internet connection, and measures the ping while the test is running.
The highest upload and download speed is displayed in the interface afterwards. Options to switch locations are not provided.
The interface is quite messy with lots of ads displayed near the main content area.
Results were fairly accurate. Not as good as, but close enough.

Speedtest Beta

Speedtest by Ookla is one of the most popular Internet connection speed tests. The beta version of the HTML5 version of the service is currently available as an alternative to the Flash-based speed test.
The test checks the latency, upload and download bandwidth. Results were a bit lower on the test device with the download reaching only 47.xx Mbps and the upload only 9.xx Mbps.
You may change the host however either by selecting one of the available hosts from the list or by using search to find another host that is not necessarily in the vicinity.
Settings are provided to change metrics from miles and Mbps to Kilometers and Kbps.
The interface of the speed test is quite messy as well, with loads and loads of ads displayed around the tiny (in comparison) content area.
The site is only available as a HTML5 version. It tests the latency of the connection as well as upload and download speed using different file sizes.
The site looks somewhat messy with the large ads listed on the left and right of the actual content. The test picks a server closest to your physical location, and updates the data as the test runs.
Results were accurate with upload and download speed correctly maxed out on the test connection. There is no option however to switch servers.
Results may be downloaded as images, PDF or CSV files.

Closing Words came closest to the actual speed of the Internet connection. While it lacks options to change servers, it was the most accurate HTML5 Internet speed testing service.
Your mileage may vary depending on your location in the world though.
Now You: Do you test your Internet connection speed?
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Do you Uninstall or Keep Software that you no longer use?

Have a look at the list of installed -- or portable -- programs on your system right now. Do you see programs on the list that you used in the past but no longer? Or programs that you never used even though they are installed or available?

The All Apps listing of the Windows 10 Start Menu can for instance be a glaring reminder of programs sitting idly on your hard drive.

There is nothing wrong with keeping most of the programs installed. While you may regain some hard drive space, usually up to a couple of hundred Megabytes unless we are talking games, there is little benefit other than that for most programs.

Some programs on the other hand interact with the system or the Internet even if you don't use them. Think of auto-updating programs like web browsers that update frequently, or programs that add entries to menus in Explorer if you are using Windows.

And then there are programs that may introduce security issues or other issues on your PC. If you keep Adobe Flash or Java installed, but don't update as soon as patches get released, you may as well give attackers the key to your castle PC directly.

Pro Uninstall Argument

installed programs

Keeping your PC clean by removing software that you no longer use has several advantages. I mentioned the gain in free hard drive space already. If you uninstall a web browser for instance, that is usually several hundred Megabytes right there. If you remove a game, it can reach the two-digit Gigabyte space easily.

Uninstalling programs will also clean up the Start Menu entry of the program, and remove links from context menus or the desktop if they were placed there during installation or use.

A cleaner start menu improves its usability. Considering that programs that you don't use are dead weight, you'd improve discoverability of programs that you do use by removing those dead weight programs from it.

While you can do so manually as well without removing the application, there is little need for keeping it around if you know that you will never use it again.

You may also benefit by removing programs that use Internet bandwidth regularly for updates, even if they are not used.

Depending on the program, you may also remove attack vectors from your system. If you don't install Java or Flash, attackers cannot use exploits for those programs to attack your system.

Pro Keeping Programs

There are good reasons for keeping programs around. For instance, if you are not sure that you will never use a program again, you may want to keep it around. This is true especially if the program does not take up a lot of space on the hard drive -- or if you have plenty -- and is not cluttering up menus.

One example of such a program is one that you tried, but did not think it was ready yet. Maybe you want to wait for updates to be released for it to check it out again at a later point in time.

There may also be situations where removing programs removes the license you got as well. Say, you got a program from one of those daily giveaway sites.

It is usually not possible to re-install those program versions at a later point in time (without prep work) as they are time limited. So, it may be better to keep it around if there is a chance that you may use it again in the future.

Last but not least, you may want to keep a program if it is not available anymore elsewhere, or if there is a chance that it might become unavailable.

Now You: How do you handle programs you no longer use?

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WinBOLT Automatic Maintenance Tool for Windows

WinBOLT is a free maintenance tool for Windows machines designed by its developer to automate as many maintenance related operations as possible.

The program is portable, and you may run it right after you have downloaded it and extracted the contents of the archive to the local system. Please note that you need to run the program with elevated rights.

Note: The program creates a directory on c:\ called WinBOLT where it places its files in.

WinBOLT uses a command line window to display options to you. You are asked to accept the terms of service before you can start using it though.

The program lists options as numbers in the interface, and separates them on pages to improve the application's accessibility.



The first page lists the main operations the program supports:

  1. Install Chocolatey (package manager for Windows to install programs).
  2. Run Windows Update and Chocolatey updates (will download and install all Windows updates, and Chocolatey core and program updates).
  3. Enable Maintenance Script. This runs various programs (like CCleaner or Emissoft CLI Scanner) and services (Windows Update) on the 16th of every month.
  4. Run the following tools: Rkill, TDSS, Delete Temp, CCLeaner, EEK Scan, CryptoPrevent.
  5. Defrag all HDD, run Sys File Check, File Sys Check.
  6. Run all of the above.

A tap on the N key opens the second page of actions that WinBOLT offers.

winbolt maintenance

You find two additional operations listed on the page. The first enables you to install custom programs on the system. You may tap on 7 to display the list, and install any of the programs listed there on the local system.

winbolt install software

This includes several excellent programs such as KeePass, CCleaner, EMET, Firefox, RKill or NotePad++.

This is the author's selection of programs that he uses on his computer.  A tap on 8 on the previous page lists hardware information

You may hit 9 for another page of tools and actions. Please note that the files are not distributed with the main WinBOLT application, and that you need to download them separately either before you load the page, or on request when you do so.

The package has a size of 336 Megabytes and ships with several security applications that make up the bulk of the download.

winbolt security

As you can see on the screenshot it offers to run Kaspersky TDRSSKiller, Sophos, Vipre, Malwarebytes and Emsisoft software to run full system scans.

You find additional options there, like fixing printing issues, renaming the computer host name, extracting the Windows serial key, or running RKill.

Last but not least, you may run several of the security programs one after the other using the Thunder Scan option.

Closing Words

WinBOLT does not do anything that you cannot do manually as well. The main appeal of the program is that it automates many of the processes.

All actions and operations are optional which means that you may pick the ones that you are interested in and ignore the others.

WinBOLT can save you some time, especially if you run it on a new computer or a computer that you check out for the first time.

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