How To Increase Internet Speed

by Rod Dunne on August 3, 2010

in Articles, Performance

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Web page sizes, online video content and file downloads are increasingly putting a strain on how much bandwidth you are using. Just as you can get a faster PC by upgrading the RAM, it is also possible to speed up internet connections using tweaks and tools.

Here, we’ll look at how to increase internet speed in XP, Vista and Windows 7 using a generic approach.

Get A PC Speed Baseline To Start With

Before you attempt to speed up internet connectivity it is worth getting some statistics to have a ‘before & after’ test result to evaluate the changes you make. Browse to speedtest.net and copy down the ping time, upload speed and download speeds that it reports.

How To Increase Internet Speed – The Basics

  • Add-Ons: You can speed up internet connectivity simply by disabling what add-ons you use in your browser. These often run in the background for each page, pinging servers and downloading additional information for you (often to be presented on-screen). If you don’t use them often then this additional drain on bandwidth is a waste, so simply disable the ones you don’t need.
  • Viruses: Run an anti-virus scan along with an adware/malware/spyware scan. Any one of these threats can consume your internet bandwidth while you are online (e.g. trojan viruses sending out mass-email campaigns over your connection).
  • Computer Speed: Run a disk defragmentation and disk cleanup on your drives. These type of PC maintenance and repair tasks will indirectly speed up internet speeds by improving the file caching speeds of your browser and modem. Owners of XP computers should also check out our Windows XP speed up tips for more general performance improvements.
  • Test Other Browsers: Try switching browsers (Chrome/Firefox/IE) to see how other applications perform using the online speed test. Some browsers can perform better in certain scenarios (e.g. on flash sites with video content).
  • Firewall Permissions: Check what services your firewall has permitted access to outbound/inbound communication to the web. Research each application to see if you can safely block its permissions (and by doing so, speed up internet connectivity for other services). Do not disable Windows Update services or your anti-virus software.

How To Increase Internet Speed – Automated/Advanced

  • Download Accelerators / Download Managers: Use download accelerators/managers to administer how larger files are sent over the net (invariably by utilizing multiple connections). However, these tools may impact PC speed if the applications need a lot of RAM to cache data packets. Assess each tool using the Task Manager (processes tab) to evaluate memory usage.
  • Tuning Software: It is possible to optimize the network, TCP and system setting using specialist software applications like Ashampoo Winoptimizer,Tuneup Utilities or SpeedupMyPC to name but a few. There is a fine line between these tools and registry cleaners/optimizers (e.g. XP Repair Pro and Error Fix) as both types of applications primarily modify Windows registry settings in order to speed up internet performance.

How To Increase Internet Speed – IE and Firefox

Modifying Firefox configuration settings using the about:config page has long been a popular way to improve PC speed. There is a huge list of settings that can help speed up internet connectivity but such recommendations can be specific to (i) browser versions (ii) Internet connection type and (iii) modem capabilities. Therefore, it is much more advisable to use the Fasterfox add-on with Firefox to update/test changing network settings.

Modifying IE 8 configuration settings is a more complex affair requiring Windows registry modifications (so is not recommended here). Instead, the above mentioned registry tools can optimize these settings safely for you.

One IE setting that can be safely disabled are the multimedia settings (under tools > advanced). You can safely disable cleartype font support and audio/video settings in order to reduce the processing strain on IE.

Related Posts:
~ Check out our other articles for more general ways to speed up laptop performance.

~ Why is my computer running so slow?
~ Top 5 PC speed up tips.
~ How to make your PC run faster without upgrading the RAM.

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