Over the last 6-12 months, many of our clients who purchased new Dell desktop and laptop computers have been experiencing mysterious wireless internet issues right out of the box. Speed tests have revealed that in these cases the Internet speed is 60-80% slower than expected, and the wireless connection also seems unstable or sporadic. However, because Wi-Fi performance can fluctuate for many reasons, such as interference, signal type and distance from the router, a brand-new computer or its software is usually the least likely cause.
But after a very thorough examination of this issue, we have determined that there is a common denominator. All these Dell computers came with a new software program preinstalled, called Smartbyte. The purpose of the program, according to the developer’s website, is to deliver “amazing online video performance” by prioritizing “real-time communication and streaming video traffic.” Unfortunately, it seems to instead slow all wireless internet traffic to a crawl. As soon as we uninstalled this software, the wireless speeds returned to normal and the connectivity issues immediately disappeared.
It appears that Dell is aware of the Smartbyte issue, as they have a lengthy article about it on their website: https://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/04/sln309274/smartbyte-application-may-slow-network-performance-and-audio-issues-with-inspiron-systems?lang=en.
However, as of November 2018, new Dell computers are continuing to ship with the software preinstalled. It would stand to reason that the developer will resolve the issue now that it has come to the surface. But until then, we advise anyone who has recently purchased or who will be purchasing a Dell computer to uninstall Smartbyte.
The makers of Smartbyte have responded with some helpful instructions on how to resolve the issue without uninstalling the software. Please see the comments section below for more information.