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“Up to” speeds
Your ISP can’t control your overall internet experience because your speed is only going to be as fast as the slowest segment between you and the site you’re trying to visit.
Think of your rated internet speed the same way you think of a speed limit sign. Even though the freeway sign says you can go 75 mph, you’ve got no shot of going that fast during rush hour because of the congestion on the freeway.
Your ISP will tell you that you get speeds “up to XX” because that represents the best-case scenario and not necessarily your average.
ISP hosted tests
Many of the most popular testing sites encourage ISPs to host a server on their network to help increase the chances that their users will get the fastest test results.
The problem with this approach is that unless you only use websites hosted by the company that connects you to the internet or their peering networks, it doesn’t represent the real world.
So my first suggestions is to be suspicious of any speed-testing website or app your ISP suggests you use.
Understanding the variables
There are so many variables that can impact your actual experience that have nothing to do with the connection that your ISP is providing you.
The time of day, the website you’re trying to connect to, whether you’re using WiFi or have a wired connection, the age of your modem, an old cable or how many people on your on network are currently using the same connection just to name a few.
The other thing to remember is that when you run any of these tests, you’re taking a snapshot of that moment in time, which can be extremely misleading.
You really need to run a series of tests at different times of the day over several days to truly determine your average speeds.
Single-thread vs. multi-thread testing
There are a couple different ways to test your connection that both represent real-world situations.
Most testing sites only offer to provide the faster ‘multi-thread’ test, which means it’s measuring your speeds across multiple connections, which represents a typical experience when visiting many websites.
A single-thread approach tests your speeds with a single connection, much like when you’re downloading a file or an app from the web.
When everything on your network is running optimally, both of these tests should come back with similar speeds. When they don’t, it can be an indication of a problem either within your own network or with your ISP.
Independent testing site
One test site that I know has no affiliation to any of the ISPs and also allows both single and multi-threaded testing is TestMy.Net. Their test results are more reflective of your actual speeds and far more detailed. They also offer an Automatic Speed Test that will repeatedly test your connection over a period of time and log the results.
Your results will be compared to others from the same host as well as in your city and they have suggestions to help you improve your internet speeds.
The last major Windows update broke some systems with particular antivirus software installed, and it’s seemingly getting
Earlier this week we reported that Microsoft halted updates to Windows PCsrunning Sophos and Avast’s security solutions, following user complaints that their machines were locking up or failing to boot. Since then, the list of known issues for the rogue update was itself updated to acknowledge compatibility issues with Avira and ArcaBit antivirus installed, with Microsoft temporarily blocking updates to those affected systems, too. Today, Ars Technica noticed that Microsoft is investigating compatibility issues for systems with McAfee antivirus installed, though it hasn’t started blocking the April 9 update from those PCs just yet.
Windows 7 and 8.1 computers can fall prey to the bug, along with some Windows Server installations. Windows 10 PCs don’t appear to be affected.
Affected computers either freeze outright or start acting abominably slow when you attempt to log into Windows. You can skirt the issue by booting into Safe Mode, disabling your antivirus, and rebooting your system normally.
If you need to do that, get your PC’s guard back up by activating Windows Defender in Windows 8.1, or downloading Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7. Both provide free real-time security for your computer. Alternatively, you could buy an antivirus solution from an unaffected vendor.
Some of the affected antivirus vendors have already posted workarounds or updates for the problem. Microsoft’s issue tracker for the borked update includes links to the support pages created by AV vendors about this issue.
Microsoft’s tinkering with core system components have recently caused other headaches with software that sinks deep hooks into your operating system. Windows Insider preview builds for the next major Windows 10 update, releasing in late May, suffered from “Green Screens of Death” if you ran a game with built-in anti-cheat software. Microsoft has been working with anti-cheat software vendors like BattlEye to correct the issue before the May 2019 Update’s final release.
Microsoft started having a good run with Windows 10 with last year’s April 2018 Update being the fastest growing Windows 10 version. However, all of that user confidence was shattered with the October 2018 Update, which proved to be the worst feature update we have seen since the introduction of Windows as a Service in 2015. The Windows maker had to officially pull it back after its public release to sort out some data loss issues. Even after being re-released, it continues to run into problems after problems with every new cumulative update.
With the upcoming Windows 10 May 2019 Update, Microsoft is taking a slower approach, baking version 1903 longer than usual in the Slow and Release Preview rings before offering it to the public. While most of us expected to see the public release happening this month, Microsoft said that in order to offer better performance and more stability, users will have to wait longer. You can still get it if you can’t wait for the public release, but it won’t be Microsoft’s fault if you do run into any problems.
These problems are the reason why many Windows 10 users choose to wait a little after every Windows 10 release before they install the latest versions. Microsoft released Windows 10 May 2019 Update to MSDN subscribers this week along with releasing the SDK for developers. With the public release expected in the coming weeks, like always, we will recommend our readers to avoid installing the latest update for at least the first few weeks to make sure you don’t run into any fatal flaws.
If you want to block Windows 10 1903 and avoid the latest update from surprising you with new features and possibly new bugs, there are a few ways to block Windows 10 1903 on your devices, at least temporarily.
How to block Windows 10 version 1903 temporarily on Home and Pro/Enterprise/Education devices
If you aren’t up for going through the installation process and the subsequent compatibility and performance issues, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to delay the installation process. But whether you are looking forward to the new feature update or not, blocking that update shouldn’t come in the way of your machine getting security updates.
Microsoft has promised that it will introduce a new “Download and install now” option to initiate the installation of a feature update on devices that have no known blocking compatibility issues. “Check for updates” will be used to get monthly quality and security updates. Once that happens, things will get easier. The Windows maker said that the option would show up on Windows 10 versions 1803 and 1809 by late May. Better controls will be introduced with the May 2019 Update, which will introduce the ability to pause updates for 35 days, among other options.
But until those features out, if you are dreading the release of Windows 10 May 2019 Update and don’t feel too excited about it, you can easily delay Windows 10 1903 for a few days and wait for it to get more stable.
1. Delaying Windows 10 May 2019 Update on Home
Here’s how you can delay Windows 10 May 2019 Update while still getting security updates to make sure you aren’t putting your machine at risk.
- Open Settings > Update & security > Windows Update.
- Click on Change active hours to avoid surprise restarts during your work hours.
- Change active hours helps you delay the update for just a few hours to make sure the installation process doesn’t start while you are at work. You can also delay the update for up to 6 days by clicking on “Schedule the restart” after version 1903 has finished downloading but hasn’t yet been installed. This button allows you to delay the restart and installation process for up to 6 days.
2. How to delay Windows 10 May 2019 Update for a little longer (Home)
Opting for a metered connection helps in deferring new updates for until you are ready. BUT, this strategy also poses you to security threats as you won’t receive Patch Tuesday cumulative updates. If you are comfortable with manually installing cumulative updates every Patch Tuesday, then you can use this option to block Windows 10 May 2019 Update for longer time. Microsoft says it will still download critical updates while you are on a metered connection.
Here’s how to set your Wi-Fi network as a metered connection:
- Open Settings > Network & internet > Wi-Fi.
- Change your Wi-Fi connection as a metered connection: click on the network you use to connect to the internet and toggle on Set as metered connection in the next screen.
Do note the severity of this option as most of the security updates will stay blocked. While Microsoft will continue installing priority updates, most of the cumulative updates will remain blocked. You will need to install cumulative updates manually until you toggle off the metered connection. Every time Microsoft sends a security patch, you will need to manually download and install it from the Microsoft Update website.
When you are ready to upgrade to Windows 10 May 2019 Update, you can simply go through the same steps to toggle off metered connection; until then the update will remain blocked.
3. Use the Pro or Enterprise version and want to block Windows 10 1809? Easy.
Unlike the mere mortals who use Windows 10 Home, those who use Windows 10 Pro, Education and Windows 10 Enterprise do get the ability to postpone updates without going through any workarounds or risking the security of their machines. Things are fairly easy for you as you can delay Windows 10 1903 for up to 365 days and that too “legitimately.”
- Go to Settings > Update & security.
- Under Update settings, click on Advanced options.
- Over here, you can simply choose to defer updates for as many as 365 days OR choose to delay the process until a certain update is more stable. For the latter, under “Choose when updates are installed” select “Semi-Annual Channel.”
You can always go back to these settings to get the Windows 10 May 2019 Update earlier than you have selected. Version 1903 is being currently tested by Slow and Release Preview ring Insiders and hopefully it would prove to be a more stable version that the last updates.
Windows 10’s most significant upgrade to date is almost ready, but Microsoft has now issued an important warning for everyone who wants to get it.
In a new advisory, Microsoft has warned users that they will need up to twice as much free storage on their PCs to receive Windows 10 1903, the upgrade which finally gives all users control over Windows updates. The new requirement will apply to all versions of Windows 10: Home, Pro and Enterprise.
The new minimum is 32 GB, double the previous 16 GB stipulation of 32-bit Windows 10 and almost 40% more than the 64-bit editions. For users with modern PCs this is unlikely to be a problem, but for older PCs (or users who consume a lot of storage), this could prove a more problematic hurdle with some finding they need to buy a new hard drive and migrate their data.
Moreover, Windows specialist Paul Thurrott believes Microsoft’s move will open the floodgates to far larger requirements in the near future, saying: “I’m surprised it took so long to get to 32 GB. And I see a 64 GB minimum happening in the near future.”
So if you have an older PC or simply don’t want to give up additional space equivalent to 4,000 12MP photos (source), should you just skip Windows 10 1903? In a word: No.
The sad fact is Windows 10 users need control over their updates because they have been getting worse, not better. Windows 10 updates have caused serious problems in October (deleting personal data), November (Windows downgraded itself) and February (breaking app updates) while April has proven so problematic I’m referring to it as Awful April.
So yes, you need Windows 10 1903 and yes, you may have to offload/delete some data or buy new hardware to get it. But this is an upgrade which is too important to skip. You have been warned.
WINDOWS 7 End of Life will take place on January 14, 2020, when Microsoft ceases to release security updates for the computer operating system. During its nine-year period of availability, the software has become incredibly popular with many fans opting to use it over Windows 10. Before the American tech giant cuts support for Windows 7, Express.co.uk sat down with two security experts who were eager to discuss the potential risks involved for anyone who plans to continue using the operating system.
In a blog post discussing the move, Microsoft insisted it is ending Windows 7 support so it can concentrate on “creating newer technologies and great new experiences” and has also warned of the security risks present for anyone that continues to use the 2009 operating system.
The firm said: “Microsoft made a commitment to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7 when it was released on October 22, 2009. When this 10-year period ends, Microsoft will discontinue Windows 7 support so that we can focus our investment on supporting newer technologies and great new experiences.
“The specific end of support day for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020. After that, technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC will no longer be available for the product.
“Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 sometime before January 2020 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available.
“You can continue to use Windows 7, but after support has ended, your PC will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.
“Windows will continue to start and run, but you will no longer receive software updates, including security updates, from Microsoft.”
To elaborate on the possible risks associated with the continued use of Windows 7 after support for the software ends, Express.co.uk spoke with McAfee’s Raj Samani and Gary Davis who jointly agreed the software will become a greater threat from hackers and other malicious third-parties once Microsoft cuts support.
Samani is a McAfee fellow and chief scientist while Davis is the firm’s chief consumer security evangelist.
In particular, Samani highlighted the computer worm Nimda that affected computers running Windows 95 to XP in 2001 and quickly spread to a deluge devices.
He recollected a patch for the malicious software debuted months before the malware was released and started affecting machines across the globe, highlighting that many computer users are content with using their device as long they continue to work.
While it is not certain malware of a similar scale could spread to those who remain using Windows 7, it does highlight the extreme risks that can be associated with doing so.
Samani explained: “The first ever paper I wrote was on Nimda, so nearly two decades ago, and I remember the patch for Nimda was published in September and the malware was actually developed the following March.
“Well, it could have been avoided if people had patched but the reason people don’t want to patch is because it already works.
“So these are the challenges that we face which is we make this assumption that security is the most important thing but actually it’s not, making sure the device is functional.
“But you know, Microsoft have to cut support at some point.”
While the McAfee fellow and chief scientist suggested similar attacks could affect users if they continue to use unsupported software such as Windows 7, he also highlighted the dichotomy a legion of critical infrastructure pillars face when upgrading their operating system.
Samani used the examples of hospitals relying on older operating systems as a case in point; in these instances a 100 percent up-time can be required which does not always allow for software updates to be implemented.
He said: “But you look at some environments like critical infrastructure, they have a demand for a 100 percent up-time and if you’re in a hospital and the nurse says ‘well I’m sorry sir we are not able to treat you because somebody is doing a Windows update’ and then you’re like well ‘come on really?’.
“We have this expectation that systems have a 100 percent up-time for certain environments, well, when are you going to update to the latest operating system?”
Further underlining the risks of using outdated operating systems, Samani used the example of the devastation WannaCry was able to cause to over an estimated 200,000 computers back in 2017.
He declared: “We can look at Windows XP as kind of the example of that [what can happen to unsupported software].
“The challenge you have with outdated operating systems is companies will end up dropping support, stop producing patches.
“And the impact of that, look at WannaCry as a great case in point.”
Microsoft is not only strongly imploring its users to upgrade to Windows 10, but the firm is also suggesting they do so on new hardware too, despite the fact some Windows 7 machines will be capable of running the new operating system.
The American tech giant will cut support for Windows 7 at the start of next year.
MyBroadband’s ISP satisfaction ratings are based on feedback from 9,781 South African broadband users between 1 April 2019 and 30 April 2019.
These ISP ratings are gathered through three speed test platforms:
To ensure a neutral testing environment, MyBroadband’s speed test servers are hosted in Teraco’s vendor-neutral data centres.
Through NAPAfrica, all network operators present at its peering points are provided with a free 10Gbps connection to the MyBroadband speed test platform.
As part of their speed test, users are also given the opportunity to rate their Internet service provider (ISP) which is then used for the ISP satisfaction ratings report.
MyBroadband April 2019 ISP ratings
The table below provides an overview of the ratings of prominent fibre, ADSL, and fixed-LTE service providers in South Africa.