Increase Your Browsing Speeds

Published Date
01 - Apr - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Apr - 2005
Increase Your Browsing Speeds
Slow connection speeds have always been the bane of Internet users in India. Even 'broadband' connections aren't exactly lightning fast. India has more than one million Internet connections, out of which most users are on a dial-up or pseudo-broadband connections provided by the local cablewallah. For a dial-up user, waiting for ages for a page to load is the norm.

So, is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Well, there just might be. A British company, Onspeed, has launched a paid service that claims to increase your Internet speed by as much as 5X on a dial-up, 3X on a broadband and 8X on a GPRS connection. The utility works on Windows and Mac platforms. However, Linux users will have to wait a while for their version.

Modus Operandi
Onspeed has developed an algorithm that performs a 'content-sensitive compression (CSC)'. This means that it doesn't blindly compress anything and everything, but the compression ratio is applied depending on the content. At present, Onspeed compresses JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, HTML objects, texts, office documents such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Flash files. It also works for e-mails. According to Onspeed, the service was actually developed for the US military, and later released as a service in the public domain.

Content-sensitive compression is the name given by Onspeed to nine patented compression technologies, which work in the background to compress the data. This novel idea takes the approach of compressing data flowing through whichever Internet pipe is available rather than going for the thicker, costlier Internet pipes. The compression is done on the fly by the Onspeed server ( and the final data is sent to you. So, you do not have to change your ISP or get any additional hardware.

Let's Get Started
Since this a software solution, all it asks for is, a modest 200 MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM, and 10 MB of hard disk space. The download size of this utility is a mere 1 MB. So even your dial-up connection can download this neat piece of code.

Go to and sign up for an account. Once you pay for the service using your credit card, the download will commence. Double click on the .exe file when download completes to start the installation, and that's it. You do not need to change any of your dial-up network settings or any settings from your Network Connection dialog box if you are on a broadband connection.

A green Onspeed icon will appear in the system tray at the end of the installation. Click on this to start the service. It will ask for a login name and password. You must make sure that you are connected to the Internet as it authorises your login and password.

Right click the system tray icon and click 'Settings'. This will present you with four options, namely, Image Quality, Connection, Feature, and Update.

From Image Quality you can set the compression ratio for the image, from high acceleration to best quality. When set to very high acceleration, the browsing speed will increase, but at the cost of the image quality. We used a dial-up connection to test this. At default settings when we downloaded a 400 KB image, it was compressed to 148 KB. We were getting around 2.1X to 2.5X acceleration and Onspeed was reporting a 'Current Connection Speed' of 37 Kbps. This speed is half of what Onspeed claims but the pages were loading really fast.

When the acceleration was set to a maximum, a 168 KB image was compressed to a mere 34 KB. However, the pixilations were quite evident-something that might not appeal to everyone. If the slider is moved to 'Good image quality', the original size of the image will be retained. This will in turn decrease your browsing speeds, defeating the whole purpose of having the service. To work around this issue, Onspeed has added an extra tab called as 'Show Original Image'.   This feature loads the original image from the site,  giving you the freedom to view select images at their true resolutions.

What Else?
Apart from increasing the browsing speed Onspeed also has pop-up blocker and in-page advertisement blocking. However, every time a pop-up was blocked an irritating beep was emitted. However, this can be turned off. Onspeed also worked with the Windows XP SP2 default firewall, without any problems. Currently the service does not support .exe, mp3 and Mpeg4 files. But the next version, expected by mid-2005 will offer supports for these formats as well. An Update tab provided within settings eliminates the need to go to the Onspeed site.

The Cost Factor
This service is available for £24.99 per year (Rs 2,100), or roughly Rs 175 per month. The amount is negligible if we consider the amount of time it saves by speeding up your connection. A dial-up user rarely downloads programs, therefore it still makes sense to opt for this service, even if it can't handle .exe and mp3 formats as of now. The good part is, it can be used in any part of the world and can be easily purchased online from

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