Improving Internet Connectivity

Jerzy Głowacki
September 4, 2018

For most of us, Internet connection is just as important as access to fresh water. And it’s not that we would agree to any bandwidth, we somehow got so spoiled that fast Internet connection is an indispensable commodity. We are so used to having a fast Internet connection that whenever it gets iffy, we are already starting to get anxious just because our pages do not load fast enough.

It occurs that in fact not most of us have access to high speeds. The average Internet connection in the United States hit 18.7 megabits per second in 2017, whereas the same statistic globally reached 7.2 Mbps. Even in XXI century millions of people all over the world have a very slow Internet connection - they may live in rural or distant areas, where there may be a weak 3G coverage or even only EDGE/2G, or simply they could not afford a higher bandwidth.

But even in such conditions, it is possible to browse the web effectively. How to speed up web browsing on slow Internet connection on your desktop?

Speedtest

Keep unwanted processes out

It might not be the first thing you think of, but something as trivial as applications or plugins can significantly eat away your Internet speed which causes a slowdown. Check if there are any background apps and services generating Internet traffic and hogging your connection. In Windows, close all web browsers, go to the Task Manager and look at the Network column in the Processes tab - if any unnecessary processes are using the network, shut them down.

Boost your signal with a better DNS

DNS translates the domain name into its numerical IP address. But that translation process handled behind the scenes can make a difference between you having and hot having access to web pages. Check your DNS servers - the ones you are using may not be the fastest. You can use the free benchmarking tool to compare the domain name resolution times DNS Benchmark.

Optimize your web for slow connection

It is no mystery that troubleshooting slow internet may take a while, so consider tuning up your web browser beforehand. Try implementing tips below and no doubt you will see just how much of a difference it makes when you are accessing the Internet with a slow connection.

If you are using Google Chrome or Opera, perform the following steps:

  1. Install the following web extensions, which speed up web browsing:
    • Data Saver (Chrome only) - compresses and optimizes HTTP traffic using Google servers. Opera has a similar built-in feature called Opera Turbo.
    • uBlock Origin - blocks most of the ads and tracking scripts, greatly increases web page loading times. Opera has an ad-block built in.
    • AMP Browser Extension - automatically loads lightweight AMP versions of web pages, which are blazing fast.
  2. Go to chrome://flags or opera://flags and enable the following flags:
    • Data Saver Server Previews - allows Data Saver to serve previews,
    • Client-side Lo-Fi previews - shows low-fidelity images on some pages on slow networks,
    • NoScript previews - disables JavaScript on some pages on slow networks,
    • Optimization Hints - performs optimizations on some pages on slow networks,
    • Enable lazy image loading - defers loading of images until the web page is scrolled down near them,
    • Enable lazy frame loading - the same for certain frames,
    • Autoplay policy - set to “Document user activation is required” to stop video autoplay unless you click on the web page,
    • Optimize background video playback - disables video in the background to optimize performance,
    • Throttle expensive background timers - limits CPU usage of background timers to 1% to increase performance.

If you are using Mozilla Firefox, perform the following steps:

  1. Go to Options, Privacy & Security tab and set Tracking Protection to Always. This will block some tracking scripts.
  2. Install the following web extensions:

Switch to lightweight

Connectivity speeds improve with each year, but at the same time, average page size grows. Instead of loading a full desktop version consider using mobile or lightweight versions of web pages, e.g.

You can use the User-Agent Switcher extension to mimic a mobile device. For the rest of the web pages with no mobile versions you can use Google Web Light: http://googleweblight.com/i?u={URL}, e.g., http://googleweblight.com/i?u=https://niutech.github.io/google-news-lite/proxy.html.

Caching to the rescue

For even more acceleration, set up a caching proxy in your local network and tunnel your HTTP(S) traffic through it, e.g. Squid, Polipo or WinGate.

Text-based browser

For extreme network conditions, use the text-based web browser, such as Browsh, Links or Lynx. The main purpose of a browser running in text mode is to significantly reduce bandwidth and thus both increase browsing speeds and decrease bandwidth costs.


Hope it helps! Though, if you feel your Internet is still too slow, you should try considering it as something positive. That slow speed might just as well increase your productivity as you will not try to browse and refresh all the distracting web pages.

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