How to get faster broadband: tips & tricks

15 Jan 2013

Wondering how to get faster broadband? Our tips and tricks will help you get up to speed

Advice about speeding up your broadband connection can be confusing and ineffective. Here are 10 simple performance-boosting tips to see which matter most.

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.

Does it work?

Yes, but most browsers have already increased their maximum number of connections. In Internet Explorer, it’s been raised from 2 to 6, which is the same as Chrome, and in Firefox, the default is now 15 connections per server. Many servers now limit the number of connections you can make to them, so it’s best to stick with your browser’s default.

Tweaking your connection settings

The free tool SG TCP Optimizer lets you tweak system settings to get the best speed possible for your internet connection. Run the program, click the General Settings tab and drag the slider bar to your maximum connection speed. Select the Optimal option and click ‘Apply changes'. On the next screen, make sure Backup is ticked, click OK and restart your PC.

Does it work?

Yes, if you use Windows XP (or earlier). Windows 7 and Vista automatically optimise your connection to ensure you get the fastest broadband possible, so SG TCP Optimizer isn’t really necessary.

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 in Windows 7 or Vista, click Start, go to Control Panel, ‘Network and internet’, ‘Network and Sharing Center’. Click ‘Change adapter settings’, right-click your network connection and select Properties. In XP, go to Start, Control Panel, ‘Network and Internet Connections’, Network Connections.

Right-click either Local Area Connection or Wireless 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 (208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220) or Google Public DNS (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4).

Does it work?

Sometimes. But even if switching DNS server produces a speed boost, it’s usually a matter of milliseconds. However, it can prove useful at peak times when your ISP is slowed by heavy traffic.

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 £8.89 to buy from the BT store.

Does it work?

bt broadband

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.

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