No matter how quickly web pages show up on your internet browser and your files download, there are a few tricks you can use to make them faster.
There's a variety of bottlenecks. Some have solutions. Some are free, some are expensive.
I'll use “PC” but this information applies to Mac's, LINUX, wi-fi connected smartphones, any computer.
I'll list them first, then delve into each one and explain them in layman's terms. You can always use Google to learn more.
1. CPU speed, 2. RAM, 3. browser bloat, 4. packet size, 5. wireless connection, 6. modem, 7. ‘last mile' speed, 8. connection speed, 9. router load, 10. ping time, 11. congestion, 12. server load.
1. Speed of the computer chip (CPU). Newer or expensive PC's have faster CPU's, and some have multiple CPU's (cores). This is the workhorse of a computer. While there are a few variables (CPU cache, RAM speed, etc.) the CPU controls all activity. Slower, single CPU's (e.g., 1.6 gigahertz, or gHz) just can't work as fast as a dual- or quad-core 3.6 gHz CPU. Smartphones have slower CPU's.
2. RAM is memory. Typical Windows configurations have 4 gigabytes (4 gb) of RAM. Older PC's cannot hold that much. Some PC's ship with less; you'll have to buy more. When you open programs or web pages, they're stored in RAM for quick response. Once RAM fills up, additional data is transferred to a special file on the hard drive. The hard drive is very slow compared to RAM. If your PC has less than 4 gb of RAM, and you can justify the expense, and your PC will hold it, this can make a big speed difference in your PC work. Crucial.com has good prices, quality RAM, and a configuration tool. Any local PC shop can install RAM.
3. Different browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera) have different features and speed. Opera is fast, but too stripped-down. Try Google's Chrome browser. Firefox has many extra features (Add-On's).
On any browser, close or disable toolbars you don't use. Some have an ‘X' or right-click a blank toolbar area and uncheck any you don't need. You can restore them later.
4. Packet size. You can run TCP Optimizer (XP only) at Speedtest.Comcast.net and also get an alternative speed test at Speedtest.net (they'll give different results). Use them to compare before/after making changes.
5. Wireless connections are much slower than wired Ethernet cable connections. If you have more than one device on your wi-fi network, they all dumb down to the slowest device's speed.
Sluggish wireless speeds can often be reset by unplugging the AC power to your wireless router, but before you do that, be sure and reset the…
6. Modem that connects you to the internet. Pull its AC power, wait 60 seconds, then plug the modem back in. Wait until all the lamps are lit (a minute or two), reboot your PC, then restore power to the wireless router.
7. Last mile is the connection from your home to your ISP (Internet Service Provider). From slow to fast, they rank: telephone modem, satellite, slow DSL, fast DSL, cable, premium/business cable, fiber optic. DSL speeds are largely determined by your distance from the nearest telephone building.
8. Connection speed is all the links between you and your ISP.
9. Router load is your ISP's ability to handle their local customers' demands. Customers downloading giant movie files can slow down all the users in your neighborhood.
10. Ping time is the connection speed between you and the server storing a web page or file. Lower ping times mean faster data transfers.
11. Congestion is other data traveling alongside yours. ISP's shift routes to avoid congestion between major cities. The shortest route may not be the quickest, or even available.
12. Server load is the amount of traffic the website is handling. If millions of people read a news article and try to visit the same website at the same time, that server might be unable to handle all those requests.
So, free things you can do to improve your internet connection speed are: unplug your router, unplug your modem, plug in the modem, reboot your PC, plug in the router, modify the packet size.
If you're ready to spend money, increase RAM to 4gb, use a PC with a faster CPU speed, faster ISP connection (phone to DSL, DSL to cable, cable to premium cable, fiber optic if it's available). A new wireless router is faster than an old one as long as your device's wi-fi can match up to it (wireless 802.11G or 802.11N).