With the popularity of broadband Internet connections, most Internet users no longer worry about having to wait for websites to load. This was a big problem with slow connections like dial-up, but now, speed might no longer be an issue with most users. However, there might still be some who use slow connections, and even DSL or cable connections have different speed ratings, so some may still be considered on the slow end. Also, even with a fast connection, a user might be in the habit of downloading movies, music and other multimedia, and could use all the speed he can get.
If you are experiencing speed problems with your Internet connection, or if you have to make do with a relatively slow connection such as wireless, here's a short guide on how to speed things up.
Use a proxy server. Sometimes, even if your connection to your ISP is fast, the actual throughput, or effective rate of data transfer, is slower. This could be due to different factors, such as how heavy a website's design is, the capacity of the website's hosting server, and how fast your ISP's uplink to the rest of the world is. If the problem is with the uplink, you can improve the speed by using a proxy server, as defined by your ISP.
This speeds up transfers because your ISP will save copies of HTML files and multimedia on its own server, so you don't have to access it directly from the source server all the time. This is effective for websites that are commonly accessed by many people on your own ISP, because once a file has been accessed for the first time, the ISP will serve the local copy of the same file, so the access speed is faster.
Turn off multimedia. If your computer is slow, or if it takes a long time before a website finishes loading, the site might contain a lot of heavy graphic files, animations and other multimedia. This is fine if you have a fast connection, and really want to watch the multimedia on the site. However, if you mainly browse to read text content, and if your connection is crawling, you can turn off loading of images, animations and movies. On Internet Explorer, this can be accessed through the Control Panel, under the Advanced tab in Internet Settings. Just uncheck the boxes for playing animations, sounds, and videos. If you really need to drastically improve speed, you can also uncheck the box for displaying images.
Move your cache to RAM Disk. This is a more advanced tweak, because you would need to know how to install a RAM drive. The cache is basically the temporary folder where your browser stores files when you access a page. In most cases, the cache goes to the physical hard drive. But accessing a RAM drive is faster than accessing a physical drive. Your computer needs to have at least one Gigabyte of RAM, though, and your RAM drive for cache would ideally be at least 128 megabytes in size. However, every time you restart your computer, the cache is cleared, because the RAM drive is reset. And therefore, the speed increase is noticeable only during a continuous browsing session.
Turn off background applications that access the Internet for updates. Applications that run in the background might sometimes be downloading updates and files over the Internet. Some examples are Windows automatic update, Adobe updater, and auto update features of some anti-virus software. These eat up bandwidth while they download update files from the server, and can slow down browsing speed. Set your updating settings to manual, or schedule these during times you are away from your computer, so the slowdown will not be noticeable.
Surf during off-peak hours. Lastly, slowdowns in accessing web-pages might be caused by network congestion, such as when a number of other users are accessing the Internet. This is especially true with some cable connections, where the bandwidth is shared by users in the same building or neighborhood. Try browsing during off-peak hours, such as after office hours, or early in the morning. With less people accessing, you have more bandwidth allocation to yourself.
Speeding up an Internet connection does not always necessitate upgrading your ISP subscription. Sometimes, you just need to do a little tweak or adjustment, to improve the actual rate of data transfer.