Finding the Source of Internet Connection Disruption – WiFi Router or AirPort Card?

Do you have a Mac computer with USB 3.0 connection? If you do, read on. Apple, Inc. announced a line of iMac models in late 2012, which the company began shipping in January, 2013. These iMac models have USB 3.0 ports. Also, Apple released the second generation of iMac models with USB 3.0 connection in September, this year.

For the past 3 months, I’ve endured a severe Internet connection issue, which finally came to an end several hours ago. Sort of… At least, I’ve finally found out the firm source of the problem. What Internet connection issue? It’s a long story.


Mac iMac USB
iMac spring 2011 (left) and iMac 2012-2013 (right)
  Mac iMac USB
iMac spring 2011 (left) and iMac 2012-2013 (right)



Last early September, my 2-year-old iMac broke down. It turned out that this iMac had a defective video card. It’s AMD Radeon 6970M. Fortunately, Apple, Inc. initiated a video card replacement program in August, 2013. So I had to send this 2-year-old iMac to Apple for free repair. That was around September 3, 2013. I have a spare machine running Mac OS X 10.6.8. I was going to buy a new iMac after Apple released Mavericks. Oh, whoa… I had no choice. I was in the middle of developing Buttons123, I think. So I didn’t want to kill the fun while waiting for iMac to return from repair. You never know when a computer will return home after repair. That’s why I decided to buy a new iMac. The model that I bought was first shipped in January, 2013. It’s the first model with USB 3.0 supported.

September 2013 was a horrible month. First, I had to buy a new iMac. That 2-year-old iMac is still severely injured. Apple repair person said that they found a couple of issues – the internal speakers and the DVD drive are broken. And they said replacing the logic board could cost ¥45,000 (US$450) or so. Then a 2-year-old WiFi router died at the same time. So I was forced to buy a new one. That’s when I realized that tablets are useless. I was not able to use my iPad mini without a WiFi router.  


Mac iMac USB
Silicon Power USB 3.0 Card Reader, which didn’t even last for a week
  Mac iMac USB
Silicon Power CF 200X



I now have three iMacs – two iMacs with USB 2.0 + FireWire and one iMac with USB 3.0 and no FireWire. I back up web files and others on external hard disk drives. So where am I going to store files now? I need a storage medium to which all three iMacs can access. New iMac models no longer have FireWire ports. Why don’t I use USB 3.0? It’s supposed to be very fast. You can still use USB 3.0 connection to access USB 2.0 devices, right? USB 3.0 is supposed to be backward-compatible. So I bought Silicon Power USB 3.0 Card Reader. And I was going to use my existing compact flash card CF 200X also from Silicon Power. These decisions actually cost me a big time. I had a lot of files stored on the compact flash card. After I used this card reader 5 to 6 times, it started having difficulty reading the card. Eventually, the card became unreadable. The card reader is no longer able to read other CF cards, either.

So, again, I need a common storage medium. It has turned out that one of my hard disk cases has FireWire and USB 2.0 ports. USB 2.0 connection speeds are not so fast, but all three iMacs can now access my backup drives through USB 2.0. That’s great.


Mac iMac USB
Web page won’t load
  Mac iMac USB
Transfer speed only at 3.3 Kbps



In October, I realized that I had difficulty connecting the Internet. It sometimes took me several seconds just to open a single web page. I had many occasions where I had only an uploading speed of 20 Kbps or lower to a remote server. I didn’t even know when it all started. I didn’t know what was causing it. Is it the new WiFi router? That’s a likely suspect. Maybe, it’s the WiFi card on the new iMac? Is it the broadband modem? The answer is none of the above, actually. It has turned out that it’s USB 2.0 connection to those backup drives that disrupts the Internet connection. That sounds odd, right? It’s true. If I turn on my hard disk case switch, the Internet connection will become really slow. I will only get a file transfer rate of 20 to 30 Kbps at best. (Click here to watch a video proof. Video resolutions are 1,440 x 900 px.) It’s not this hard disk case that’s been causing the Internet connection problem. I’ve been using the same hard disk case with FireWire connection for the past 5 or 6 years. And two other iMacs never showed the same connection problem. What if I connect the same hard disk case to my iMac 2011 (the one that once died last September) with USB 2.0 connection? I’ve tested it about an hour ago. I was able to transfer a video file to a remote server at around 500 Kbps. So it’s most likely that the new USB system installed on new iMac models has something to do with the Internet connection issue that I’ve suffered for the past three months.

If you remember what happened a year ago, I wonder why Apple, Inc. delayed iMac shipment? They announced the first line of iMac models with USB 3.0 in late October, 2012. Yet, these models were finally shipped in January, 2013. What caused the delay?

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