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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 57: Speed Up Web Pages on a Slow Internet Connection

Level Easy

Platform All

Cost Free

It may feel as though centuries have passed since the last time you heard the unmistakable mating call of your computer’s modem dialing into an ISP. But even in today’s broadband-saturated world, you can’t always find a speedy Internet connection — while traveling, for example, or when your high-speed connection isn’t available.

When you surf the Web on a slow connection, it can seem as though grass grows faster than the download progress meter on your web browser moves. Still, it’s not difficult to optimize your browsing setup for the fastest way to log on, get what you need done, and get off. This hack covers some strategies for squeezing the most productivity out of a limited flow of bytes over a slow Internet connection, be it via an analog dial-up line or a tethered cell phone data connection. (See Hack 87, “Connect Your Computer to the Internet via Mobile Phone by ‘Tethering’,” for more on dialing into the Internet from your mobile phone on the go.)

Configure Your Web Browser for a Slow Connection

Chances are, your web browser’s setup assumes that your Internet connection is fast and ever present. A couple of small changes for your slow-connection session can make a big difference:

  • Increase the size of your browser’s cache so that you re-download the same web page elements less often. The default cache size in Firefox, for example, is 50MB. Your hard drive probably has plenty of free ...

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