Tweaks can boost broadband's speed

If you're not getting the performance you expected from your high-speed Internet connection, here are some tips that might give you a Internet speed boost.

Start by checking the speed of your connection. Take a serious look at your computer. It might be part of the bottleneck. Computers rely on their processors to convert Web coding languages, such as HTML, JavaScript and Java, into the Web pages. The slower the processor, the more time it takes to convert Web coding into the sites displayed on your screen. Memory also is important. If you don't have enough, the computer will only be able to store part of a page to a few pages in memory at once. Additional pages are saved to the computer's swap file, which is memory created from free space on your hard disk. Swap memory (also called virtual memory) operates much more slowly than physical memory, so Web surfing to complex pages or sites with little memory can be a huge slowdown.

If you have an up-to-date PC with enough memory but your connection has suddenly slowed to a crawl, try rebooting your modem. If your modem has a reset button, push it to reboot. Otherwise, unplug the power cord from the modem. Give it a minute and then reconnect the power.

Then go into your browser and dump cookies, history and temporary files. In Internet Explorer, click Tools and Internet Options. On the General tab, click Delete Cookies, Delete Files and Clear History.

In Netscape, click Edit and Preferences. Under Navigator, find History. Click Clear History. Under Privacy & Security, click Cookies. Click Manage Stored Cookies. On the Stored Cookies tab, click Remove All Cookies. Under Advanced, click Cache. Click Clear Disk Cache.

If you're using Apple's Safari, click Safari and Empty Cache. Then click Safari and Preferences. Click Security, Show Cookies and Remove All.

Finally, reboot the computer.

Some people with cable access use splitters to separate the television and Internet signals. Splitters work, because the signals use different frequencies. But the cable company uses industrial-strength equipment. If you bought your splitter on sale at the five-and-dime, that could be the problem.

If you're using DSL, and you've added telephone extensions to every room in the house, that could be a problem, too. That has the effect of increasing the line loop, adding to the distance from the switching station. When adding lines, be sure you know what you are doing. Poor quality work or wiring can degrade the Internet signal.

Also, be careful of the networking cable that runs from the modem to the computer. If you roll over it with a chair, you could crimp the wires inside.

It is possible that your problem is in the wiring outside your home. The technical support people at your Internet service provider can check for problems.

Finally, a slow broadband connection isn't necessarily caused by a problem on your end. The Internet is made up of countless networks. Bottlenecks develop, and slowness could be a problem on a site, not in your computer.