Optimize Optimum Online (OOL)
Hopefully the following steps will assist you in
optimizing your OOL speed. OOL is Optimum Online, a cable modem service
provided by Cablevision in the NY?NJ/CT Metro area. Though I refer to OOL below, the following
steps are general enough to apply to most cable modem users. If you have questions, the best thing to do is
post them in the OOL
forum on DSLReports where there are many folks who have mastered the
art of OOL optimization. It's also where the basis for everything on this
page has come from.
The assumption in the below steps is that you already have
OOL cable modem service and a modem and that the modem is plugged in and
you are able to access the internet. If not, then there's no reason to
start optimizing your connection and the below steps won't help you (at
least yet). You can availability information at the OptimumOnline
home page. If you're having a problem getting connected at any speed,
directly via phone,
Live Online Support or post your problem in the OOL
forum on DSLReports.
Learn more about cable and media services available through Virgin TV.
Lets walk through the steps you should go through. There's not necessarily
a specific order, but if you're having a problem, it's probably best to
start at the beginning.
Step 1 - The cable to the modem
An important step is to make sure, if at all possible, that the cable
running to the cable modem is off the first split once it enters the home.
Most folks have a splitter
that allows multiple sets to get cable. In my case, the first splitter is
in my basement and it split the incoming cable from outside to drops for
upstairs and downstairs. I added a new two-way
splitter and had the cable to the modem run off the new splitter and
the other half of the new splitter run to the other existing splitter.
This should cost about $5 for the splitter and small piece of cable to
connect to the existing splitter if one already existed.
Step 2 - Optimize your settings
The next thing to do would be to download a program called DrTCP.
This is a Windows 9x/Me/NT/2000/XP compatible program which allows you to
tweak your network settings. This optimization needs to be run on each
computer that will access OOL. Once downloaded (there's no install), run
DrTCP and start by changing the following settings:
Set the TCP Receive Window to one of the following based on your speed
64240 for 10mb or less; 128480 for 10-20mb; 256960 for over 20mb
Set the Path MTU Discovery to Yes
Select your network card in the drop-down list and then set the MTU
Click the Apply button and then the Exit button.
You must reboot for these changes to take effect!!
After rebooting, re-run DrTCP on the machine, re-select your appropriate
network card from the drop-down list and verify that all the
settings were retained.
Here's a screenshot of my
If you have a Macintosh, look
here for a program that allows you to tweak your settings using the
Step 3 - Verify the optimization
At this point, you should run a Tweak
Test on the DSLReports site to see if anything else is identified.
When you go to the page, a Java applet should load and appear. There will
a Start button that you should click to run the test. Once the test is
completed, the Results button will become enabled so go ahead and click on
it. A new page will be displayed asking for what service, speed and
operating system you are running.
Select the following:
Operating System: whatever is appropriate for the machine you're running
the test on
and then press the recommend button.
On the results page that is displayed, you want to verify in the left-most
column that the Receive Window (RWIN) setting shows what you set above
based on your speed tier and that Path MTU Discovery shows On. In the middle column you want to verify that the
Max Packet Sent (MTU) and the Max Packet Recd (MTU) settings show 1500. If
you are using a cable modem router, and DrTCP shows the MTU as set to 1500
but the Tweak Test shows a lower value, you might need to adjust the MTU
on your router. See Step 5 below for information
There should not be any issues identified under the settings on the
left-most column. You might see a message or two under the middle column
which highlights some re-transmission errors or stalls. Within reason
these are normal and not an indication you have any problems. You can
ignore any issues identified in the 3rd column as they are not normally
relevant to tweaking your connection. If anything else is highlighted or
there are questions you have on the results, the page contains a URL that
is displayed under the settings that should be highlighted and copy/pasted
into a new posting on the DSLReports
forum for someone to respond to.
Step 4 - Run speed tests
Before you do speed tests, you need to understand what's happening when
they are run. You computer goes out through the cable modem and onto
Optimum Online's network. From there it goes out onto the internet and
through the internet to a server hosted by someone else on their network
and then all the way back. All of this involves lots of opportunities for
problems to be introduced that affect your speed. So you need to take
these speed tests with a grain of salt. They are just a indication of what
speeds you are receiving at the specific moment you run it. With that
said, lets look at the 2 tests that can be run and the differences between
The first test I suggest is the
FTP test. This test removes the external (non OOL) internet from being
involved as the server being accessed is on the same (hypothetical)
network as you are on. What occurs when you click on the link is a 64MB
file will start to download to your machine from a ftp server that OOL
provides. Depending on your browser and the settings you have, you might
be prompted to Save or Open the file. It doesn't really matter which
you do. What you'll then see is a window showing the transfer of the file
that looks something like this.
What's important here is the Transfer rate that is shown. If using IE, the
initial rate will start very high and then come down after the first few
updates to the window. Once you hit about 10-20% of transferring the file,
the value shown should be accurate. The norm is to get between 400KB and
1MB during this transfer. If you don't achieve that transfer rate, wait a
few minutes and try again. If the rate is still out of the norm , create a
new posting on the
DSLReports forum for someone to respond to and include the copy/paste
url from running a Tweak
Test on the DSLReports site from Step 3 above.
The second speed test is a test which will measure your download and
upload speeds. Currently OOL doesn't host a version of this test though
it's planned for the future so we need to run the test by accessing a
server with the test that exists out on the "real" internet.
That means all the factors that could effect performance mentioned at the
beginning of this step come into play. The internet might have congestion
which slows down the test for you, the network that is hosting the speed
test server might have some congestion as well, and even the speed test
server might be over-utilized and slow because of everyone accessing it.
With that said, the server which seems to provide us OOL users with the
best results is the NYC
Speakeasy Speed Test , PHL
Speakeasy Speed Test and the BOS
Speakeasy Speed Test. When you go to the test, a Java applet will run
and be displayed. Click on the Start button in the applet to initiate the
test. Once the test is completed, a new page with be displayed that will show your results.
Because of all the possibilities for outside factors to effect your
performance, you could run this test 5 times in a row and get relatively
significant differences in the results that are achieved. Run multiple
tests at various times of the day over a couple days to see if there's
some consistency in the results.
Note: Any results above are those that reflect my
"norm". They won't necessarily reflect yours and that doesn't
mean there's anything wrong with your results. Depending on the modem you
use (I happen to have a Terayon Terajet), where you are located among
probably 20 other things, your norm or max speed is determined. Anything
above 3500 down is acceptable. A suggestion would be to check out the DSLReports
speed test archive where you can enter in your specific zip code and
see what others in your general vicinity are achieving.
Step 5 - Optional further tweaking
What has been outlined so far in the above steps should get the majority
of people the maximum performance possible with a minimum of effort. The
rest of what you can do is more trial-and-error. In most cases the effort
to find those extra few KB is large compared to any noticeable
improvement, but for the hard-core tweaker the challenge is really the
reason to continue on.
The recommendation regarding the TCP Receive Window (RWIN) setting is what
has been proven to given the vast majority of OOL users the best
performance. But it's probably the place where trial-and-error changes
will provide you with slightly more speed. What you can try is to increase
the TCP Receive Window (RWIN) value using DrTCP
to see if any speed increases can be gained. Again, you'll need to make
the change, apply the change and reboot for the change to take effect.
This can be time consuming when you're constantly rebooting to get that
"just right" value. As the TCP Receive Window is increased, you
can introduce re-transmissions because of it. If you are running
Win95 or Win98 and you can't seem to get a value > 65536 to stick, you
probably need the vtcp.386 update applied to your machine. Go
here if you need the update for Win95 or go
here if you need the update for Win98.
If you are using a cable modem router such as a Linksys
or Netgear or any of
the other vendors that manufacture these products, you need to make sure
that the MTU setting on the router is also set for 1500. This should
normally be the case but if the Tweak
Test shows a value other then 1500 and DrTCP
shows 1500, it might need to be changed in the router configuration.
Depending on your router and it's capabilities, this should be possible.
Check the documentation for your specific router or look in the
DSLReports forum for guidance. If you have a Linksys, you want to make
sure you're running firmware version 1.39 or later. Versions prior to that
caused the router to be a bottleneck. You can check the version of your
Linksys firmware by going to http://192.168.1.1/Status.htm
. Today's routers should not slow down your speeds substantially,
though you could see a slight drop due to the additional overhead. A big
exception to this rule is when you are using wireless networking. You can
expect to see a 50% or more drop in performance when communicating
wirelessly to your router/access point using 802.11b wireless. 802.11g and
802.11n should allow for full speed, up to 30mb. If you suspect the router, it is
best to take it out of the picture and directly connect the computer to
the cable modem to verify you are tweaked and then work through any router
If you have a cable modem hooked up to your computer via USB instead of a
physical network card (NIC), their seems to be a pretty significant
performance drop that can occur. These days, you can get a ethernet
network card (NIC) for as low as $10 after rebates and discounts at
popular computer stores nationwide. If you do purchase an ethernet network
card (NIC) for your computer, make sure to re-optimize
all your settings as changes you've made can be lost in the upgrade.
Well I hope you got some performance improvement by following the above
steps and it didn't take too much time or effort. If you have any
question, the best place to ask them is in the OOL
forum on DSLReports where some folks seem to be on 24 hours a day to
answer your question or help diagnose your specific problem. My name on
DSLReports is GeekNJ. Also, if there's something out of the ordinary that
seems to be happening all of a sudden, someone might have posted something
on the forum regarding an outage or performance issue. Seeing if others
are effected doesn't make your problem go away, but at least it might
identify why you're having an issue, and you might even see how many other
folks are impacted and an ETA on getting it resolved.