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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: 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.

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 - 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: Tips

Other tips to save money

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Content revised: 19th November, 1998
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