Make Your Web Pages Load Faster

This Tips & Tricks series, which incorporates regular software updates and reviews, is aimed at enhancing your broadband experience.

Q: How can I make web pages load faster?

You can speed up your browsing experience by using a web accelerator. A web accelerator can be a proxy server used by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to reduce web access times. It can also be a hardware appliance or a browser extension that you can install on your computer. In this blog, we will look at simple, cost effective ways to speed up your browsing experience using free, installable browser extensions.

What is a web accelerator?

Web accelerators are tools that can help speed up the download of web content such as plain text, HTML, markup and java script, as well as common forms of graphics such as GIF, and JPEG images, Flash and file downloads. Although they do not accelerate other forms of Internet content such as video and audio streams.

Examples of web accelerators

Two popular web accelerators are FasterFox for Firefox and the Google Web Accelerator.
FasterFox is a Mozilla Firefox extension that tweaks network connections and caches web pages so that the pages can be loaded more quickly.

How it works

Whenever you request for a web site, your ISP's computer will work out the Internet address of the web site and go to the relevant web server to download the requested file. Web accelerators can help speed up this process in several ways:
1. Tweaking the network. FasterFox allows you to tweak many network settings such as the number of simultaneous connections to the server.

2. Caching. The web accelerator stores frequently or recently accessed web sites in the cache memory on your computer. When you type in the address of the web site you want, the web accelerator will load the file from the cache instead of going to the web server, reducing the time needed for you to access the site.

3. Pre-fetching: Web accelerators like FasterFox for Firefox have a pre-fetch mechanism that makes use of idle bandwidth to load and cache all the links on the page you are browsing so that these linked sites can be downloaded faster when requested.

4. Compressing documents. Web accelerators may compress documents to a smaller size or send only what has been changed since the document was last requested. They may also filter out ads or other unwanted content so that the web site can be loaded more quickly. For example, FasterFox for Firefox includes a popup blocker for popups initiated by Flash plug-ins.