By Steve Alexander
Q: I do a lot of videoconferencing on Microsoft Teams and Zoom. I can use either Wi-Fi with a download speed about 80 megabits per second or a wired internet connection that has a download speed of 240 megabits per second.
On Wi-Fi I have no problems, but on a wired connection the video sometimes freezes, forcing me to reboot the computer. I have a laptop docking station with two monitors and an external hard disk drive. What can I do to make the wired connection work better?
—Dan Johnson, Boulder, Colo.
A: A wired internet connection should always be faster than a Wi-Fi connection. But wired connections can be more complicated — for example, yours includes a laptop docking station — and that can slow your internet speed. Here are some ways to speed up a wired connection:
• Restart your computer, network router and internet modem (in some cases the router and modem are a single unit.) This is just the old truism that a reboot fixes most things.
• Try bypassing the docking station and plugging the network cable directly into the computer. The docking station may be flawed, or it may have a software conflict with the computer, either of which can slow down wired internet speeds. You should also update the docking station’s firmware (software that’s downloaded to a particular device) from the manufacturer’s website.
• Avoid using two or more computer screens during videoconferencing; it slows down a computer because multiple screen images must be processed at once. The slowdown is worse when two or more screens have different settings for resolution, or sharpness.
• Update Windows (see tinyurl.com/3vr6326j) and update its software drivers (software that connects the computer to its various parts, see tinyurl.com/43hwje7h) for your graphics card and docking station. Also update your router’s firmware (check the manufacturer’s website).
• Make sure your computer isn’t trying to do too many other tasks while you’re on a video call. Those other tasks can take computing power away from a videoconference.
• Delete some unneeded data from the Microsoft Teams files that are stored on your computer (see tinyurl.com/3jwu757c).
• If you use an “unmanaged network switch” to add more wired internet plug-ins to your router (see tinyurl.com/ywey27nm), you may be able to upgrade the switch to improve wired videoconferencing. Some users say upgrading to a switch with gigabit-per-second speed will help (see tinyurl.com/4h6cw3wt).