Five steps: speed up your broadband
Turbo-charge your broadband with Smarta's straightforward steps.
Back in the time of anthropomorphic tortoise/hare showdowns,
slow and steady was the winning approach. These days business is
fast-paced, and when it comes to broadband, speed is of the
1. Upgrade your browser
One of Smarta's favourite quotes is from Microsoft's general
manager for Internet Explorer (IE), Amy Badzukas, who said of an
old version of the browser: "Friends don't let friends use IE6". In
August, Microsoft reinforced this sentiment by publicly backing a
group which had started a campaign against the browser,
thoughtfully named 'Die IE6, Die'.
What on earth has IE6 done to warrant such bile? In short - it's
slow. The way IE6 works is by downloading files on web pages
sequentially - a massively inefficient way of working. Upgrade by
downloading a browser such as IE8, Firefox, Opera or even Google's Chrome, all of which will
reduce the amount of time it takes to download pages.
2. Cull your system tray
Even if you don't have any programs open, chances are your
computer is still running hundreds of little processes in the
background, many of which hog bandwidth. If you're on a Windows PC,
click the arrow next to the little icons in the bottom right-hand
corner of your screen to open your system tray, or if you're on a
Mac, open Activity Monitor to see how much bandwidth your
applications are using. Do you really need Spotify, Skype, MSN
Messenger, RealPlayer and 4OD running in the background when you're
not using them? No, we didn't think so.
3. Improve your wifi signal
If you're using the wireless router which came with your
broadband package, it's very likely you're not getting the coverage
you deserve. Improve its performance by investing in a longer
aerial: for as little as £10, you could see a 50% increase in
signal. Obstacles such as walls or large pieces of furniture will
also serve to reduce the wifi signal, so move your router somewhere
Alternatively, ditch your wireless altogether and use an
Ethernet cable to connect to the internet. Ethernet is faster and
more reliable - and because it limits you to one point of access,
it means you won't find yourself slouched on the sofa concentrating
on Murder She Wrote while you're supposed to be writing that
4. Banish bandwidth bandits
'Piggybacking', using someone else's unsecured wireless
connection without their permission, is illegal in some parts of
the world, but according to a survey, 12% of people admit to having
done it before. If you haven't encrypted your connection, not only
do you risk having your bandwidth used up by cheeky piggybackers,
but you also leave yourself open to more serious breaches of
security. Ideally, you should have a WPA (Wifi Protected Access)
encryption if your hardware is compatible, as well as a WEP (Wired
Equivalency Privacy) password. See your router's user manual or
contact its manufacturer or your broadband provider for
instructions on how to set up a password.
5. Contact your ISP
If your download speed is slow, it could be that you're working
from one of the UK's three million 'notspots' - areas with
broadband speeds of less than 2Mbps. The speed of your connection
usually has something to do with your distance from the exchange.
The nearer you are to the exchange, the faster your connection
should be. Beware, though: broadband companies can be devious about
connection speed. They'll be happy to sell you a super-fast 20Mb
package even if they know full-well your position means you're
unlikely to achieve the full speed.
Use this handy Broadband Notspot
map to determine whether you are in a slow broadband area, then
check your connection speed using a broadband speed
checker to determine whether you are receiving your
connection's full potential.
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