This has been driving me nuts for a day. I couldn’t figure out what was choking my download speeds on one of my laptops. I couldn’t seem to download at a rate any faster than around 20Kbps, maybe peaking at 35Kbps. I’d get a solid trickle, and then it would drop down to nothing.
I tried Arch and Ubuntu and both behaved the same. I power cycled the router. I rebooted the cable modem. I even hooked up a spare machine via wire and everything was fine. But on the one laptop, it was spotty at best. I checked online to see if there were problems with my provider, or if it was a regional outage of some kind.
Of course, the entire time, I was reminding myself that I had just replaced the final screw on the cover for my new MiniPCI wireless card. It’s just a snap-plastic cover, and really the screw only braces the cover to the underpins of the keyboard. There are five more around the body of the laptop, so leaving that one out is no major loss. The only reason I hadn’t put it back was because I was lazy.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if it was that screw?” I said to myself. “Nah. That’s impossible. What the heck would that one screw have to do with a sudden bandwidth problem? It must be some sort of sunspot flare-up. In this 3-foot radius around my desk.”
Finally I ran out of ideas. So I scratched my head, powered the machine down, flipped it over and dug out my screwdriver.
It was the screw.