Question: I have one of the few Macintosh computers on our campus, and it seems that file transfers from our server as well as Internet downloads are really slow compared to Windows computers. My computer is very new and I think it should be fast. What is the problem?
The IT Guy says:
It is possible that the Ethernet ports on your school network are set to a fixed speed, such as "100 full." By default all Macintosh Ethernet cards (in laptops as well as desktop units) are set up for autosensing Ethernet ports. If the port is not set to autosense (this is a hardware setting specific to the switch or hub connecting your port to the school network) then your Mac defaults to "10 half," which is a very poor connection speed.
Prior to OS 10.3 (Panther), hard setting your NIC (Network Interface Card) to a specific speed required either an unsupported series of commands in the OS X terminal or use of a special extension in OS 9 or 8. Thankfully, with OS 10.3, the connecting speed of your NIC can be changed with clickable menu selections. If you are not running or cannot run OS 10.3 on your Macintosh to make the appropriate selection for your network port (check with your district admin for the settings), the next best bet is likely to request that your classroom Ethernet port be set to autosensing. Some network admins will contend that network performance is improved when ports are not set to autosense. However, given that Windows NICs have been easier to hard set to specific connection speeds, this does not pose many problems for Windows-only computing environments. Autosensing does not add many packets to network traffic, however, and is generally the most user-friendly networking environment, particularly when different computing platforms are used.
Next Tip: Microsoft ending support for Win95 and Win98