I had been facing brutally slow Internet speeds lately on my iMac. It’s a 27 inch 2009 iMac9,1 model, but a quick search shows many people are having wifi issues with a range of iMacs made in this time frame. The first year was alright, but then slowly I began losing connectivity and getting degrading speeds followed by exceptionally high ping speeds and major packet loss. The tipping point forcing me into all out research mode to find a fix for this issue was when Star Craft 2 starting lagging. I mean I can handle slow downloads, but slowing down while conquering the Zerg? That’s where I draw the line.
Who’s to blame? Not the ISP or router
At first I wanted to blame my ISP, I mean who doesn’t want to blame everything on their ISP? I also suspected my D-Link router. So the first thing I did was run some ping tests on yahoo.com. Here are some of the results before the fix.
64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=2 ttl=54 time=1116.307 ms Request timeout for icmp_seq 4 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=3 ttl=54 time=2354.040 ms Request timeout for icmp_seq 6 64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=4 ttl=54 time=3893.753 ms Request timeout for icmp_seq 8 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=5 ttl=54 time=4051.168 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=6 ttl=54 time=3721.117 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=7 ttl=54 time=3522.018 ms 64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=8 ttl=54 time=3532.999 ms 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=9 ttl=54 time=2989.983 ms 64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=10 ttl=54 time=2246.754 ms 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=12 ttl=54 time=659.947 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=13 ttl=54 time=374.582 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=14 ttl=54 time=704.893 ms
As you can see, absolutely abysmal with some requests timing out all together and a packet loss of up to 40% at times. Next I ran the same test on my windows laptop and it came up with normal results, so that basically ruled out the ISP and the Router being at fault; it was Google time.
After reading through several forum threads dealing with this issue I found some options. The first one was to reset PRAM which some people claimed fixed their wifi issues so that’s why I am including it here even though it did not fix my issues. You could even try a Megapath T1 line to see if this helps your problem.
Turn your Mac off and then back on and hit the Command-Option-P-R keys before the grey screen appears. You continue holding these keys until the computer restarts again. What is PRAM you ask? Here’s a snippet from the Apple support site.
A small amount of your computer’s memory, called “parameter random-access memory” or PRAM, stores certain settings in a location that Mac OS X can access quickly. The particular settings that are stored depend on your type of Mac and the types of devices connected to it. The settings include your designated startup disk, display resolution, speaker volume, and other information.
The solution that worked
- Go to the Apple icon in the top left corner, click About This Mac, and then click More Info…
- Look for Network and then click AirPort below it. This will take a second as your Mac loads all the wifi networks available.
- Find your network and look for your Channel number.
- Look through the other networks and see what channel they are on. If you see a lot of other networks using the same channel as your router then this may be your problem. Look for a channel number in the range of 1 to 11 not being used, or the number used least.
- Log into your router.
- Go to your wifi settings, this will vary for all routers, but on my D-Link it was under manual wireless wifi setup. Change the wireless channel to the channel you chose in step 4 and turn off Auto Channel Scan if that is a setting on your router.
That’s it, connect to your wifi network and if things worked it should be much faster. If it did not work try another channel and the reset method mentioned earlier in this article if you haven’t already. If neither of these methods work you might have a bigger problem and may need to send or take your Mac into Apple. You could also pick up a wireless adapter which was going to be my next step, since lugging my iMac into an Apple store didn’t seem like much fun.
It’s a night and day difference now and downloads are at least 10 times faster, and I’m doing better in Star Craft 2 already. Here were my ping results after this tune up with zero packet loss.
64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=0 ttl=55 time=24.496 ms 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=1 ttl=55 time=37.596 ms 64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=2 ttl=55 time=30.118 ms 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=3 ttl=55 time=27.434 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=4 ttl=55 time=45.736 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=5 ttl=55 time=28.150 ms 64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=6 ttl=55 time=30.143 ms 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=7 ttl=55 time=24.516 ms 64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=8 ttl=55 time=38.174 ms 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=9 ttl=55 time=32.034 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=10 ttl=55 time=29.954 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=11 ttl=55 time=42.683 ms 64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=12 ttl=55 time=28.703 ms 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=13 ttl=55 time=64.164 ms
Although for now the problem is solved, this is still an Apple issue as far as I am concerned, sure it’s nice that I was able to work around it, but it shouldn’t be an issue. I have 3 other laptops in my apartment that worked just fine with the router on the previous channel. I hope this fix is permanent, although I may need to change it again in the future. For now all is well and I hope this works for anyone else having these issues. If you are still stumped you can also check out the original forum thread.