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1. Increasing the number of connections
When your browser loads a web page, it opens multiple connections to the server hosting the site. The default number of connections in some browsers is quite low, so increasing the figure should reduce loading times.
To change the number of connections in Internet Explorer, click Start, type gpedit.msc and press Enter. Open the path User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Internet Explorer, Security Features and select AJAX. Double-click the two ‘Maximum number of connections per server’ options, select Enabled and enter the desired number, from 2 to 128.
In Firefox you’ll need to go into about:config and change the value for ‘network.http.max-connections-per-server’. In Chrome, you can’t alter the setting. Many servers now limit the number of connections you can make to them, however, so sometimes it’s best to stick with your browser’s default.
2. Changing your DNS server
Although your broadband provider has its own DNS (Domain Name System) server, which translates website names into IP addresses, switching to OpenDNS or Google Public DNS will speed up your web access.
To change your DNS server go to Control Panel, ‘Network and Internet’, ‘Network and Sharing Center’. Click ‘Change adapter settings’, right-click your network connection and select Properties.
Click Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), click Properties and select ‘Use the following DNS server addresses’. Now enter the Preferred and Alternate server details from OpenDNS (22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199) or Google Public DNS (188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206).
3. Installing a BT Broadband Accelerator
The BT Broadband Accelerator, also known as the iPlate, improves your connection speed by filtering electrical interference from your home phone wiring.
It fits into your NTE5 master socket and, according to BT, can make your broadband up to 1.5Mbits/sec faster. The device is free for BT customers and available to buy from the BT store.
But does it work? Yes and no. PC Pro reported a significant speed increase when we reviewed the iPlate – “a staggering 63 per cent”.
However, the device will only improve the performance of ADSL connections that have certain types of socket. Find out if it will work for you using the guide on the website.
If you know what you’re doing, you can get the same results by removing the bell wire from your phone socket, but the BT Broadband Accelerator is a safer choice.
4. Avoiding extension cables
Another divisive broadband issue is whether using an extension cable will slow your connection or have no detrimental effect. The theory is that the longer the line between your phone socket and your PC, the greater the risk of speed-sapping interference.
If you must use an extension cable, choose one that’s as short as possible. For the best results, plug a router into your master socket and connect it to your computer using an Ethernet cable. You can buy a 10-metre cable from Amazon for £10.
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5. Moving your wireless router
Placing your router in a central location in your house, preferably on a desk or table rather than under it, will ensure you get speedy Wi-Fi access throughout your home.
The strength of a wireless signal can be degraded by wood and metal, so the fewer walls and items of furniture it has to pass through, the faster your broadband speed. You should also try to keep the router away from power cables and other wireless devices such as baby monitors.
6. Switching to another channel
If your wireless connection is being weakened by interference from electrical devices, or your neighbours’ Wi-Fi, setting your router to a different channel might solve the problem. Most routers let you choose another channel, from 1 to 13, through their main configuration page.
It works well, if channel congestion is the cause of your speed woes. The free tool inSSIDer will tell you what channels your neighbours use, so you know which ones to avoid.
7. Disabling automatic updates
Lots of programs check for and download updates automatically, which can use up bandwidth without you realising. Although it’s important to keep Windows and your anti-virus software up to date, turning off automatic updates in other programs can make your connection seem faster. You can usually do this via the software’s settings.
For most people the speed boost will be minimal, though.