Tweaks to speed up your internet connection when using Windows 7

First things first, and perhaps being a little precise, the speed of your Internet connection is dictated by the particular Internet connection package you have purchased from your Internet Service Provider. Short of using a different ISP, or upgrading your package, nothing will increase the speed of your Internet. However, what you can do is optimize how your computer and network manage the information sent and received over the Internet in order to achieve better performance with the resources you currently have access to.

A good place to start speeding up your browsing experience is to make sure you are using the best browsers available. Luckily this is an era when there are a number of high quality and freely available browsers on the market. If you are using Windows 7 you will be using at least Internet Explorer 8, however Internet Explorer 9 has now been released and you are entitled to upgrade to the latest version for free. Alternatively there are a number of other excellent free browsers out there, with Opera, Firefox and Google Chrome leading the pack.

While not wanting to stumble into an argument about whether any individual browser is best, among other things, browsers differ in terms of their speed, and compliance with W3C standards. In practice this means that browsers will display web pages at different speeds, and with varying degrees of faithfulness to the intended design (some browser may have real difficulties displaying certain websites with possible issues including jumbled layout and drop-down menus not functioning). Making sure that you are using IE9, or the latest versions of one of Opera, Firefox or Google Chrome will help to ensure that you enjoy fast browsing and that sites generally appear and function correctly.

Although not necessarily a specific Windows 7 tweak, another way to improve Internet access rates is to connect to your home network hub using an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi. In general terms while an Ethernet connection can be as much as twice as fast as your Wi-Fi connection (100Mb/s for Ethernet versus 54Mb/s for Wi-Fi) in practice these speeds will probably still be significantly higher than those provided by your Internet service provider and so be unlikely to slow your connection down overall. The problem with Wi-Fi, however, is that many factors impact on the connection to degrade the speed (things like the distance from the Wi-Fi hub, and whether a Microwave oven is running) leaving you with only a small fraction of the theoretical speed maximum speed of your connection (some say as little as 25% and others much less). So overall an Ethernet (ie cabled) connection will provide better security, speed and robustness over time.

For the more adventurous, or at least technically inclined, there are a few more tricks you can try: increase the size of your Internet cache; tweak you registry settings to help reduce network latency; optimize your browser to allow more than one connection to the server at any one time; reduce or remove the amount of network bandwidth that Windows 7 holds in reserve; and finally uninstall or disable any of those third-party plug-ins that you no longer fine useful. More information about each of these options can be found online.

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