Monday, November 2, 2009

The "Doctor" Is In - Part 2A - The "Net"

Yesterday I shared some simple tips to help keep your computer running more efficiently.... REMEMBER THE OPTIMIZER !!!

Today, I'll take it another step to share some tips to try to help your internet experience be a more pleasant one. Again, I'm keeping in mind the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) mentality, mainly because that works best for me !!! So, I will keep it simple while still offering some tips that may help to improve your online time.

The reason for describing SYSTEM optimizing tips first IS simple, the more resources your computer uses to run, the less resources that are available to help your internet connection run smooth, right?

There are many factors that determine how "satisfied" you are with your internet experience - and although many are beyond your control, there are definitely some things to consider to help when you are surfing.

The "Bad" - I'll start with some things that we just have to live with. Unfortunately we are all somewhat at the mercy of others. It can get pretty technical but we have no control over site traffic, server capabilities, "flash" applications, "mime", javascript etc. Suffice to say, the more interactive or "fancy" a particular site is, the more resources needed in order to display it properly.

Websites are built using code known as HTML.. and more recently, XHTML (XML). Although the theory of this language is universal, there are many variations derived from the basic concept, much like English in the USA is spoken differently in different parts of the country - and THAT causes problems.

Facebook users know this all too well and a big part of the problems encountered there are because Facebook developers have created their own version of HTML which isn't always compatible with the versions that all the third party applications use - never mind the compatibility issues between HTML and XML in general. So, we're left to "deal with it".

Our hands are also tied (don't shoot me fellow bloggers) by sites that host multiple pages, streaming audio (guilty), video, multiple pictures, advertisements, "pop-up" clouds, multiple hyperlinks, etc as these all put additional strain on our own system resources.

That's not to say that there aren't things that you can to do to help ease the strain. Again, yesterday's tips for optimizing your system will help. Obviously the very beginning depends on how many programs, browser windows and tabs you are trying to run simultaneously... LESS IS BEST !!!!

And now I'll get into the "good", and help explain some other simple "fixes" that will help you enjoy the internet more. First some points of reference....

Bandwidth (Data Transfer Rate, uh....speed) - The key to your internet experience is the POTENTIAL speed that your ISP (internet service provider - ie, Comcast, AT&T, Charter) provides you with. Basically what this is is the amount of data capable of being transmitted per second. Yesterday I gave you a snapshot of my system, today I will tell you that I have Comcast Internet's 3rd tier - download speeds up to 15 megabits (mb)/second normal, up to 30mb/second with "powerboost" (LOVE THAT). Ok, ok, ok so WTF does THAT mean ?!?! Well, if you understand that 15mb = 1.75 MB (30mb - 3.5MB) and a typical mp3 song is 4-5 MB, it means.... ISP (Comcast) provides me with the potential to download files as indicated above.

First, if you don't know what your speed is SUPPOSED to be, then find out from your provider. But understand that what they tell you is the MAXIMUM you will experience. There are other factors involved but you should experience at least 80% of the maximum... ie, if you are rated for 6mbps (AT&T's maximum), expect around 5...

If you're interested (and HIGHLY recommended) you can test your own speed at and although there are many, these are the 2 main test sites used by technicians. Note that when you run speed tests you should run a minimum of 3 tests (and take the average)... I usually run at least 5...

"Ping" - Now, WHEN you got to you'll notice a link to another site, GO THERE TOO !!!! This site will allow you to run a "ping" test, which basically will tell you the amount of time it takes to transfer a packet of data and how much data is "lost" in that transfer... basically it tells you the condition of YOUR line to the server... results look like this...

I recommend that you run these tests BEFORE and AFTER making any changes so that you know how the changes affect your own performance...

Ok, testing done, and whether or not you're happy with your surfing speed, there are things that you can do/change to improve internet performance...

Toolbars , Add-ons, Gadgets.... BAD BAD BAD.... Web browsers and websites offer these wonderful "shortcut" utilities to make browsing "faster". Toolbars are just that, provided by services mainly to keep their names in your face... Yahoo has one, AIM has one, Facebook has one, Twitter has one, etc... Add-ons and gadgets are extensions of your toolbar offered by other services... basically "quick" links to THEIR page or service, or even live feeds from a particular site.... GET RID OF THEM !!!! or at the very least HIDE THEM.... Along with offering a bit of convenience, these "services" suck up bandwidth and resources... ESPECIALLY the animated and "ticker" ones. Bye Bye Bye... I will admit that along with the standard Firefox or Internet Explorer toolbar, I also have the Comcast Toolbar running as it provides me a link to their ant-spy utility.

Private Browsing - Some browsers... Internet Explore, Firefox and Safari, at least, offer "Private Browsing"... USE IT !!!! Although there are "drawbacks" to private browsing as.....

"In a Private Browsing session, [the browser] won't keep any browser history, search history, download history, web form history, cookies, or temporary internet files. "

..the saved bandwidth will make a dramatic difference in performance... if you REALLY need to search your history to find a page you visited, my suggestion is to "bookmark" it next time. Not to mention this way of browsing is safer.

History, Cookies, Temporary Internet Files - DUMP, DUMP, DUMP !!! Even when I do on occasion browse in a non-private mode, I have my browser set to delete all of the above when I close it. All these things do is waste bandwidth... and cookies and Temp Files are actually saved on your hard drive.... GRRRRRR.

Suspend the Interactivity of Websites - I've never actually done this and as a blogger... I'll probably get shot !!! (forgive me fellow bloggers) BUT.... some browsers offer the option to disable audio, video, ads etc from loading on websites. Obviously this is a way to greatly reduce the bandwidth so the pages load faster... but it's also a way to miss out on a lot of great content...

TCP (Internet) Optimization - CRITICAL !!!!!!!!!!! Just as optimizing your system has the most profound impact on the performance of your computer, optimizing your web browser(s) has the greatest POSITIVE impact on your internet experience. This is something too few people realize... When you install a browser, it's default settings are optimized for a dial-up connection speed. I don't know about you but I haven't used dial-up in ages - if you ARE still on dial-up, ignore this. There are definite tweaks that can/should be done to OPTIMIZE your browsers for your particular connection.

Although they can be done manually, I take the easy way out. Many of the Windows Optimizer Utilities described yesterday incorporate an Internet Optimizer integrated into their suite... DONE !!!

If you don't have one of those suites YET... then there are also utilities that can be found on the web. Comcast, for example, offers a TCP Optimizer that appears to be free to anyone as I didn't have to sign into my account to access the download. It can be found here at but you MUST be using Internet Explorer in order to download it.

However, the "standard" TCP Optimizers appear to only be compatible with Internet Explorer and IE-based browsers. BUT, have no fear Firefox users !!!!! I found one for you (and me) too called SpeedyFox. You can download it here. It's a very simple download and a 1-click optimization process... and I gained 15% more speed immediately after doing so. And have no worries, I scanned the file before opening it, so it's clean.

I was going to continue but frankly I'm tired... and this may be a lot for some to absorb. So I'll save the rest for tomorrow, where I will discuss specifics about some different browsers that I tested and my personal conclusions. I hope this helps and if I think of anything else I'll be sure to post it.

Before leaving I will share with you my speed tests performed at speakeasy, before and after cleaning my machine and optimizing Internet Explorer..... you be the judge...

Note, my download speed went from 21.6mbps to 30.8mbps.... hmmmmm... I'll take THAT !!!!

Just for the record, I had a tech come check my lines one day... when he ran the tests, he was getting 30mbps, while I was getting around 18. His answer to why his was so much faster was, "Better processor". THAT'S why I did some research. Who's pulling 30 NOW !?!?!?!?

Thanks for stopping in for a visit. It's just my opinion, so please PAHDON it. Y'all come back now, ya heah !! Nuf Ced


plainolebob said...

John, this some of the most helpful info i have seen, now if I can teach these fingers to type,lol.

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Cheers !!!

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