How to save money on the Internet
Improve Transfer Rates
There are a number of simple things you can/must do to get the best transfer rates. The first is to make sure that the modem connection speed is set to more than its rated speed because all modems these days compress the data up to 4 times before sending it over the telephone. For example:
- Even a 28.8 Kbaud modem should have the connection serial speed to the computer set at 115200 whilst the default is often set to 57600 or lower. Most handlers for V90 56K modems have now got this right but it is worth checking even for new modems.
This setting needs to be checked and set every time you change the Modem and also if you change Internet Service Provider - it is set individually in each Dial Up Connection (DUN) in Windows 95/98. It is so important that I will take you through the way to check it in detail.
- My Computer -> Dial Up Networking
- Right click on Connection Icon -> Properties
- On the General Tab click Configure
- On the Modem Properties General Tab select a speed at least 4 times (if available) that of the modem in the drop down menu
Configure the Modem to exploit its full set of features
I will not go into details as there are a number of pages of relevance on our web site in the Technical "Howto" Articles
the relevant ones being
Some of the detailed stuff is fortunately no longer required in the OSR2 flavour of Windows 95 or Windows 98 but it may help you understand how it works. They also cover what real rates to expect and how to find out what they are.
Buy a faster Modem
This is a bit down the list as it is not as important as it might seem provided you have a modem of 28.8 or better. The lower speed modems will generaly not support all the compression and error correction protocols. We used to get a very acceptable performance out of a 28.8 modem because it is set up correctly and it was only replaced because it died. Faster modems will help but the telephone lines set the limits and the Modems often back off to a lower speed than their maximum - the latest 56 Kbaud modems only achieve the highest rates on downloads and I have never heard of a connection at the maximum rate being achieved even for short times - if you get much over 49 Kbaud you probably live next to the exchange! Even so this is a very valuable improvement.
Update the Flash Memory on your 56 Kbaud Modem
If you purchase a have a 56 Kbaud modem it will have a Flash memory for firmware upgrades. You will need to do the upgrade when your ISP starts to support the new V90 standard and also update the installation files. There is a new Technical Howto Article on how to set about Updating A Modem with Flash Memory
. It is demanding but I have done it for a friend and it immediately improved access via a Freeserve, one of the first ISPs to support V90, dramatically. The download rates superficially improved by threefold so the previous firmware and/or installation files must also have been faulty.
Use the Internet Explorer 4 or higher Browser and optimise the settings
Use Internet Explorer 4 or higher and
- set the caching so it does not reload pages every connection
- you can then go back for months offline and read and print using its history features if set up right - saves a fortune. IE also has a super History feature which means you can see where you went by day/week basis for every site you visited and you can see from the cursor shape whether any individual page is cached or if you need to go online. If you set the default times things are kept and the criteria for revisit correctly you can, for example have all the OU M206 pages available for several months. Just remember to do a Refresh if you think they may have been updated with corrections!
To set up to maximise cache use in IE 4 or 5:
- View -> Internet Options -> General Tab and
- Set History to say 90 days
- Click Settings Button in Temporary Internet Files and on next screen
- Check the box that says Never
- And pull the slider to provide plenty of disk space to use for the cache we have 6% = 50 Mbytes - if it fills up it may not always delete the oldest files first.
- You must allow the pages to download completely, including images, for them to be cached - wait for done in the status bar.
- Always do a manual Refresh if you suspect a page may have changed
Other tips to save money
- Use a BT family and friends number for the ISP.
- Check and change your BT family and friends numbers and view your bill up to 2200 the previous evening at http://www.bt.co.uk/Home/
- Always collect mail, conferences and newsgroups and read offline.
- Users of FirstClass must use Personal. There is a separate page covering FirstClass and Personal.
- Do not disconnect after collecting mail - use the remaining time up to the minimum charge to web browse etc - 5p at a weekend can give you 6 minutes.
- Browse whilst one or more downloads and coming in.
- Use the Dixons Freeserve as an ISP (if not on a free one already) - it really is free, easy to get and load and still very fast but read Freeserve Guide and Tips before loading the CD (essential if you already have an ISP).
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