No matter how much time, money and energy you put into ensuring that your home internet connection is as fast as it can possibly be, you will inevitably be somewhere with a snail-speed connection when you need it the most. In college, our 20-page final research paper was finished—phew!—so we submitted it and made our way out of town for Christmas. The next day, in the middle of rural Florida, we were stuck with the awful task of having to re-submit our paper, which our professor warned was lost, with the lacking bandwidth of a small county library. Not fun. But take a chance to learn from our misfortunes and memorize these tips to an instantly faster Web browsing session...
- Use Google to read HTML copies of huge documents: If you've got a Google Docs or Gmail account, uploading or emailing a PDF gives you an option to view its as an HTML, which is going to come through a lot faster than viewing the same PDF in Adobe Acrobat. The same holds for PowerPoint presentations, Word 2007 .docx files, and nearly any document you can find in Google search.
- Make Faster, Fool-Proof Downloads with Down Them All: Right-clicking a picture or link, selecting "Save Link As," choosing a download spot—it gets real old, real fast, especially if you try to do it on every picture in a Flickr set. Free Firefox extension DownThemAll makes it easy, or you can set up smart filters and settings to make any page with tons of files easy to navigate.
- Bump up your cache size (and make other configuration tweaks): Configuration options that you'd normally never touch are serious life-savers if you're on weak Wi-Fi, an older, slower system, or just tired of watching your mouse cursor do it's "waiting" animation over and over. Upping your cache size definitely speeds up your back button action and speeds up repetitive banners and graphics.
- Throttle your home wireless network: Your wireless router doesn't have to be a neutral observer while watching all your web-connected apps and gadgets fight it out for bandwidth. Many routers let you negotiate connection rate treaties using Quality of Service settings.
- Swap heavy sites for RSS feeds and mobile versions: RSS feeds are great for getting a lot of reading done in a short amount of time with a minimum of bandwidth, or no connection whatsoever. Along those lines, you can run any site that's chock full of text-y news through the Google Mobilizer for a version that's fast enough for a mobile phone, and very fast on a desktop.