Speed issues are hard to nail down because there are so many possible causes. It could be a transit issue (all the different links your data has to hop through to get from your computer to us), wireless interference (if you're not using a wired connection), new settings on your computer that you don't know about due to a software update, or just a network bottleneck due to too many users trying to get through in a particular geographic location. We will be providing you with *a lot* of information, some you may already know, some you may not. Please take your time and read through it.
Before we begin troubleshooting, we need to make sure you are aware of certain things that can affect what you perceive as speed...
If your newsreader starts trying to download content that is not on the server, the retries and pauses will make it seem as though the download speed is slower when in fact items aren't being downloaded at all, and your newsreader is only measuring the queries between your computer and the server. You may want to check to see if you are getting a lot of incomplete articles while downloading.
When a large amount of data is transferred within a certain time frame, it is typical for the site to be auto-throttled by either your ISP or a transit provider (the people that connect your ISP to us).
Something that we've found that some newer users are not aware of is that ISPs advertise their download rates as "Megabits Per Second" while your computer will tend to show downloads in "Megabytes Per Second" and/or "Kilobytes Per Second." This causes some misunderstanding with what the end user thinks they should be getting. Below are some conversions which demonstrate the differences:
Megabits = Megabytes = Kilobytes
1.5 Mbps = 0.1875 MB/s = 192 kB/s
6 Mbps = .75 MB/s = 768 kB/s
12 Mbps = 1.5 MB/s = 1536 kB/s
30 Mbps = 3.75 MB/s = 3840 kB/s
60 Mbps = 7.5 MB/s = 7680 kB/s
(All conversions can easily be done at http://www.unitconversion.org/unit_converter/data-storage.html)
Please make sure that your internet subscription didn't change (and thus your download rate). Additionally, many ISPs advertise their speed based on burst rates and not sustained speeds. That is another reason why they advertise it as "Up to XX Mbps..." This means that your initial connection to a site up to a number of seconds or megabytes will have that speed, then be throttled back to typically 80-90% of the advertised speed. (Time Warner is one of the few ISPs that are, to their credit, transparent about this practice).
That being said, there are a few things that can be attempted to improve the situation. We cannot guarantee anything but are willing to help.
Make sure that there aren't any other downloads happening while you are attempting your own downloads (ex. background downloads for Windows/antivirus updates, bit-torrent downloads on your computer or other computers connected to your home network, and also misc. streaming video from other computers connected to your home network).
If you haven't already tried, please restart your modem, then restart your computer. Sometimes the connection can slow down because either the modem, computer or both are stuck on a process. While this may seem irrelevant to you, lately it has been shown to resolve the majority of speed issues.
Some routers have what is called QoS or "Quality of Service" where it determines what data gets precedence, typically streaming media > HTTP > everything else. You may want to disable that to see if it helps. Some of our members have reported that their new routers have, by default, something called "automatic bandwidth shaping" which performs a similar function, but whose purpose is to prevent over-use of the internet connection by limiting the overall download rate. If this is enabled, you must disable it. Consult your router user guide for more information on this.
Also, some modems and routers have a limit on how much data they can stream. For example, a modem may only be able to send up to 400 Mbps from your ISP. Please check the description for your equipment to confirm their limits.
We do not limit our output from the servers, other than the number of connections you get based on your subscription, so you will want to make sure you are using the correct number of connections for your subscription. You will need to test to see how much it takes to get the highest speed. Keep in mind that having too many connections can have the same effect as having too few, and you might not want to use the max available.
Some newsreaders (ex. Agent) allow you to set aside a specified number of connections so that you can continue to browse Usenet while you are downloading binary files. Please make sure that this number is not more than 3, and combined with your connection count, does not exceed the number of connections that your subscription allows.
If you still have trouble at this point, please respond by letting us know what newsreader (and version number) you are using, what troubleshooting steps you've already taken, what server you are using, the number of connections you are currently running, and your username, so we can try to assist you further.