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Optimizing Your Network Connection Speed

The speed of your network is determined by three key factors, the speed of your equipment, Internet connection, and network configuration.  Your  network equipment is made up the NIC (e.g. the network port) on the computer, the router/switch, and the cabling you use to hook it together.  If you're using wireless, there are different factors for this technology.  The Internet connection is only as good as the provider you're using.  While your system's network configuration is entirely up to you.

This article focuses on enhancing your system network configuration, by explaining how to optimize your system's DNS. There are some other complex tricks to tweak the size of the network packets that can speed up your network connection.  Although, to do this correctly requires a good understanding of TCP/IP networking.  For the sake of keeping this article understandable this topic is not going to be covered. 

The tricks mentioned in this article are fairly safe if you know what you're doing, and are generally reversible if something goes wrong.  Although, these instructions only provide basic guidelines how to make these changes.  You will need to consult your operating system or router documentation for specific instructions.

Note: Before making any network configuration changes to the operating system or router, note the current settings so that you can reverse them if there are problems.

Some people may know what DNS is while others don't.  For those that don't, DNS is a network service that converts a domain names (e.g. example.com) into an IP address (e.g. 192.0.43.10).  Its a critical network service that makes navigating the Internet easier for humans.  For example, lets say you had to type http://74.125.127.147/ instead of http://www.google.com/ to utilize this site.

Every time you use a browser or other network aware applications that utilizes the network connection, one of the first things it does is look up a DNS name of a machine or service that its trying to reach.  These look ups can happen as many hundreds times or more every few minutes depending on what you're doing.  If you're using a slow DNS provider, this can make using the Internet appear that its crawling at a snail's pace.

Depending on your ISP and where you're located, not all DNS providers will perform the same.  To help find out how fast your DNS provider is, there are two utilities available that test several available providers and show via graphs which one might be the best for you. 
  • namebench: Finds the fastest DNS servers available for your computer.  (Note: This program supports multiple platforms)
  • DNS Benchmark: Determines the performance of DNS name servers.  (Note: This program is Windows only)

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