Investigating Slow Network Performance on Dell Inspiron Laptops

You just signed up for a gigabit broadband plan and got your new docking station or USB Ethernet adapter supporting gigabit connectivity. So you hook it up to your Dell Inspiron system, jack in the Ethernet cable, and navigate on over to speedtest.net or fast.com to see those sweet speeds… Only, there’s a problem — you’re getting embarrassingly low download or upload speeds when you’re paying your ISP for much more.

Before grabbing the pitchforks and suspecting the USB Ethernet device to be the issue, chances are, there is a Dell-provided software on your computer that’s causing the trouble.

After working with a customer experiencing slow Ethernet speeds through their Plugable UD-3900 docking station, we discovered the sneaky culprit at hand was SmartByte, a program that claims to prioritize your network traffic in ways to improve the quality of the videos that you watch.

However, a Google search of “SmartByte” immediately reveals a wave (Dell forum post, Tenforums post, Reddit post) of frustrated users who report SmartByte slowing down their network speeds on their system. Of course, it’s difficult to validate every single network issue (or anything worse) that is being reported about SmartByte, but it is clear that this program is prone to causing performance headaches for many folks using a wide range of network devices.

After all, this was enough for Dell themselves to essentially acknowledge the problems of SmartByte by releasing a support article walking through steps to resolve these networking issues, with the last steps ultimately being to disable SmartByte!

All this being said, how can you tell if SmartByte is installed on your Dell Inspiron computer?


Check for SmartByte

  1. Press the “Windows Logo” Key + Q to open a search prompt
  2. In the Search prompt, enter Control panel
  3. Click on Control Panel (Desktop app)Control Panel listing in search view
  4. Under Programs, click on Uninstall a program
    Control Panel option
  5. See if SmartByte Drivers and Services is listed as an entry
    SmartByte listing in Control Panel Programs

 
If you do see SmartByte listed, don’t panic! From there, you can double-click the entry to run through its uninstaller and completely remove it from your system. Keep in mind that SmartByte may be reinstalled to your system through Dell SupportAssist, so you may need to uninstall this as well to prevent SmartByte from coming back.


Disable SmartByte

Another option is to disable SmartByte on your computer. The software will still exist on your system, but it should stop manipulating your Internet traffic. Disabling SmartByte and running a speed test is a good quick way to see if SmartByte is indeed slowing your system.

  1. Press the “Windows Logo” Key + Q to open a search prompt
  2. In the Search prompt, enter SmartByte
  3. Click on SmartByte (Trusted Microsoft Store app)SmartByte listing in search view
  4. In the SmartByte application, click the slider to the right to turn off SmartByteSmartByte user interface

Networking issues such as these can often be quite complex and difficult to isolate as there are many factors that vary from environment to environment. If you are still having issues with Ethernet speeds through your Plugable device, please contact us directly at support@plugable.com and we’d be glad to investigate further.

What have been your experiences with SmartByte? We’d love to hear your comments below!

16 comments on “Investigating Slow Network Performance on Dell Inspiron Laptops”

  1. Ray Reply

    Hi, I have an Inspiron laptop that I bought about 5 or 6 years ago. I complained to my Internet provider RCN why my speed is only 93 when my subscription says its 155. Their tech guy came and tested from his laptop my modem/router, and the speed is 155 and above.

    He told me that my Ethernet port is the problem. Will you product/s be able to remedy this port problem. If yes, please let me know which type/model I can buy. Thanks, Ray

    • Kevin Lamb Reply

      Hello Ray,

      Thanks for reaching out to us! I do apologize for any trouble you’ve had with slower speed. I would first suggest to check if your computer has the SmartByte program installed as listed in this article above. If it is installed, please follow the steps to uninstall it and see if that makes a difference.

      For your computer and network need, I would suggest our USB2-E1000 adapter. You can view compatibility information, frequently asked questions and other helpful details about the adapter at this link: https://plugable.com/products/usb2-e1000/.

      This adapter is USB 2.0, and has a theoretical max speed of 480 megabits per second (mbps). Most folks report speeds in the range of 250-350 mbps. I do want to mention that there are a number of factors that determine network speed, and that we cannot guarantee the exact speed that you will receive. I hope this helps!

      Please feel free to reach out to us directly at: support@plugable.com with any further questions, and we’ll be here to help.

      Thank you,

      Kevin
      Plugable Support

  2. Keith Carter Reply

    I have removed Smartbyte from my computer and my speed doubled, from 11mb to 22mb. The only problem is that I have a gigabyte fiber internet and I get 250 to 500 on everything else. I have tried using both wireless and ethernet connections.

    • Mitchell F Reply

      Hi Keith,

      Thanks for voicing your experience. There are many possible factors that could be at play here, and since you mention you get the same low speeds on both a wireless and wired connection, we may be dealing with some host conflict. We have another blog post that goes in more depth about these potential factors that you may want to refer to: https://plugable.com/2015/12/10/getting-the-best-speed-from-your-network-adapter/

      If you’re using a Plugable device in combination with your setup, please reach out to us directly at support@plugable.com with your Amazon Order ID and we’d be happy to investigate further.

      Thank you!

  3. Kevin Reply

    I had speeds of a50MB plus and then the past week or so it seemed slow. Well I did a test and sure enough, my download speed from http://speedtest.xfinity.com/ is about 10MB!!!! I just uninstalled SmartByte and it is back to where it should be. (180MB DL & 11 UL). Thanks!!

    Note: I tried to disable it and stop the service, but that killed my internet.

    • Mitchell F Reply

      Thanks for sharing your experience here, Kevin! Glad you were able to get your speeds back in order.

  4. Ellen S Reply

    This app gave me HOURS of headache trying to figure out why all of my devices are getting much way higher speed except for my work laptop. Even reset my network and reinstalled network adapter. I knew something’s wrong with the Dell work laptop and not my connection.

    • Mitchell F Reply

      Sorry to hear about this! It’s certainly a frustration for a lot of us. Hopefully the issue can be resolved with your Dell work laptop — thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. Tien Tran Reply

    Thank you for this tips!
    My download speed is 40Mps. After i disable Smartbyte, My download speed is 400Mps, it is not double, it is 10 times.

  6. Jason Beil Reply

    OMG, I’ve been frustrated by slow download speeds on my DELL laptop for months. Speedtest was showing a disgustingly low download speed of around 8 Mbps. After removing SmartByte, it went up to 60+ Mbps. Why on earth would DELL be installing this crap program??

    • Mitchell F Reply

      Thanks for sharing, and we’ve shared your frustration!

      Smartbyte does “improve” certain types of networking speeds (like downloads or streaming video), depending on what is prioritized within the application. However, it does so by throttling other types of bandwidth. Whether or not that is an improvement is up to the user!

  7. Rocky Road Reply

    I just removed Smartbyte and my WiFi speed went from 20 Mbps to 140 Mbps. Somehow Smartbyte was installed a coupe of days ago and I noticed slower speeds but had no idea why. To make it more complicated, I’m on a brand new computer with a brand new modem and a new internet provider so I thought how am I ever going to figure this out? I found your article and tried removing Smartbyte never expecting such a difference. I love you.!

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