Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Speeding up Dial-Up

I've read about a lot of services to speed up dial-up.  NetSpeed I believe is one of them.  Has anyone tried to use services like this or programs that claim to speed things up.  Do they actually work?

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Of course not... 56Kbps is 56Kbps.

Their claims are based on caching "frequently-accessed" web sites, to save an extra 200ms. But it still takes the full 5 seconds to download to your machine.

Grumpy Young Man
Saturday, May 22, 2004

I thought I read somewhere that they re-compress the images on pages you view, so they download faster but look much worse.

Sean Harding
Saturday, May 22, 2004

The NetZero(featured often on TV commercials) faq has some info about how this works. This technique seems to be a reasonable way to give speedup over a slow link, assuming that each peer has spare CPU cycles to do the compression/decompression.

Related to this(perhaps this technique is used by NetZero) is distillation or lossy compression:

I've never tried this service, as I can get broadband. Has anyone tried it?

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Yes, as I understand it does work.  I am not sure of the actual bandwidth increase.  Anyways, the company that makes the software that NetZero and the AOL highspeed dial up service is called SlipStream Data.

Stephen Depooter
Saturday, May 22, 2004

The claims of dial up accelerators have always sounded bogus because modems do on the fly compression and decompression.  Compression on top of compression adds no advantage. And compressing image data such as JPEGs with any lossless compression technique really adds no advantage at all.

AOL has their own image compression layer - '.ART' files. It results in a truly crappy image being returned to the workstation, plus is a non standard format so non AOL users normally can't view ART files.

As far as caching: some of the most irritation I have ever experienced online has been in using a local ISP whose whiz bangy satellite caching technology was preventing me from using certain interactive pages because the returned result page would almost never reflect the previous operation. IE, the caching was not allowing a result page to be transmitted back to me. The ISP was stupid and could not be convinced that this may interfere with non trivial web uses (such as online ordering) that could actually cost users real money...

Bored Bystander
Saturday, May 22, 2004

If you're stupid enough to use AOL, you're stupid enough to believe that you can "speed up" a 56k dial-up connection.

Chen-li Fan
Saturday, May 22, 2004

1. Speeding up a dial-up connection is relative to the context in which it is used.  (i.e. What part are you speeding up.)
2. When I set my connection speed to 38.4kbs it seems to give a more even flow of data.  I determined this by starting at the lowest possible setting and working up.  If Windows says that I connected at the given speed then I switch to the next higher setting and repeat.  I get to 56k and it says connected at 40k so I set it to 38.4k which seems to be a very reliable setting.  I don't know if this is an exact science or not, but it is the way I did it.
3. Caching items on your hard drive is sufficient for the average user who only knows how or wants to connect to check their email and perhaps look at Yahoo!
4. GoZilla download manager has never given me a bad download.
5. I have found external modems to be more reliable than internal.  As for the technical reason for that, there probably is none, it's just luck.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

As far as I know Mozilla and IE will cache automatically.

If you don't agree look at the folder where either browser saves their temp files.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

You could subjectively speed up your browsing by blocking all the ad servers. A lot of websites bandwidth is probably 80% banner ads, once you don't download them the web seems a lot faster.

Here's a discussion of that:

Matthew Lock
Saturday, May 22, 2004

The compression thing is horrible. Try it once and never again.

Want a real speed up? Install an ad blocker, disable java, disable javascript, disable flash. Now your browsing is ten times faster! Hurray!

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, May 23, 2004

don't know if any of the 'speed up' proxies are predictive proxies.

that is, you go to a page, and it follows a link or two off the page and starts downloading the linked pages while you're reading the current page. so it seems faster when it gets it right.

i imagine most are bogus.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Well, I'm on Earthlink dial up, out here in the sticks, and I do use their acceleration service.

Basically, they have an accelerator proxy that reduces the quality of images (based on your settings).  It does speed up browsing, and it does make the images ugly.

It will not speed up downloading an MP3 or zip file though, so don't go thinking you're getting something for nothing.  You could probably get a similar speedup by disabling images in your browser, but I do like seeing some inages there, and with the Earthlink implementation you can right click an image in IE and select the option to download it at full quality.

In a nut shell, it's okay, but I wouldn't pay extra for it.

Steve Barbour
Monday, May 24, 2004

An alternative that I didn't see mentioned here is to decrease the download time of the stuff you want to see at the expense of advertisements and unwanted images and pop-ups.

I'm using AdShield ( which let's me configure a block list which not only prevents pop-ups and pop-unders, but also can block banner ads and margin ad images that often represent a large portion of the download time. Thus my pages and served up quicker and the images that I want to see come up quicker since the unwanted ads are being surpressed. This product integrates nicely with IE.

It also has an option to "pre-fetch" web sites that the current page you're viewing links to. When you click on a link, it's possible that the page has already been downloaded and it immediatedly displays.

I highly recommend...

Mark S
Monday, May 24, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home