I will preface this post by saying that I am a Windows dummy, so I don't have a whole lot to offer to the Microsoft bunch out there. However, my quick little tips don't apply so much to a particular OS as to general system settings good for almost any OS, so here goes:
1. Minimize the amount of running services on your system.
I cannot overstress the importance of this one -- the more services & applications you have running simultaneously on your box, the more overhead utilized. So many people have all kinds of virus scanners, supposed "speed up" apps, unnecessary running services/daemons/etc. which do not need to be running 24/7. For instance, say you have a virus scanning platform. **Please note, I am not advocating that you turn off your virus protection -- and only you can determine the level of protection you need, so in the end, use your own judgement and don't hold me responsible (please) **
Anyway, virus scanners are generally not needed constantly. You're not going to get a virus if you don't have one already and you are not downloading files, visiting malicious sites or running untrusted software. There are times the preceding statement if false, but rarely enough to cause concern. So, I suggest that you only have your virus software set to scan files on demand - e.g. when you download something or when you are reading emails. Use your browser security settings to help minimize the chance you wonder into an insecure site and always make sure the sites you are using for sensitive information (such as bill payment, purchases, sensitive data, etc) are encrypted with trusted encryption (check the pad lock icon and make sure it is a "https" connection). Using your browser to help with security is a performance sparing method to minimize the processor intensive constant scanning by a virus detection package.
If you have a ton of system services running in the system tray of Windows, take a look at which ones you really need and eliminate the others. Same for system startup -- clear out everything that does NOT need to be started upon startup; this will save memory (RAM) and processor usage...which leads to quicker page response and transfer speeds. Advanced users should check actual "services" in Windows and turn off those you don't need. If you're running a linux flavor, I assume you're already pretty versed in modifying your configuration. If not, PM me. e.g. . chkconfig --list to see a list of services or service --status-all to see what's running currently (RH/CentOS/etc.)
2. Change your MTU (max transmission unit) to 9000 if you're on a high speed cable or ethernet link. This allows your network interface to send much larger frames than the standard 1500 value. Basically, this parameter sets how large a single transmission frame may be, minus overhead. So, if your system includes overhead in the setting, set it to less than 9000 so you don't get an error for exceeding 9000 (e.g. set it to 8900 to be safe). Just make sure you do this if you know what you're doing only and if you're sure it is appropriate for your set up. It shouldn't cause any problems, but make sure you know how to get back in there and change it to the previous value in case it breaks your connectivity (which I doubt!)
3. Try different browsers - not only are some browsers actually much better at speed natively, they save on system resource usage as well. My suggestion: firefox or opera. I was never a fan of opera until recently when they made a lot of improvements. Firefox is always a good choice. IE would be my last choice, but many people love it. Chrome is pretty good too but I have noticed some issues with it lately.
4. Stop background file transfer daemons such as online data backup utilities, cloud sync systems (iCloud, etc). If you have things like that running in the background, they obviously will take a lot of your bandwidth away (unless you specifically configure them not to, they will use as much bandwidth as they can get their hands on). So, shut down iCloud from syncing while the system is active and if you use something like Carbonite backup, let it work when you are not using your box (e.g. overnight).
5. If you are using wifi, make sure you have a good signal and make sure you are using the faster encryption settings. You should use 802.11g at a minimum and preferably 802.11n for best connectivity. Most network connections (note I said most) will not realize much (if any) performance gain by going direct ethernet unless the previous 3 suggestions (signal, encryption, protocol) are not followed. If you cannot adjust the first 3 settings, then you probably should connect directly to your router's ethernet connection or to your cable modem/DSL/etc. You can also change the "power" or "energy" saving settings on your wifi box by setting the transmission power to 100% all the time. Search your manufacturers KB or google for "increasing wifi transmission power" or, more generally, "tutorial to speed up wifi" Note that wifi is going to give you a theoretical maximum of 450Mbits per second in the best and hardly ever realized conditions. Generally 300Mbits is as fast as you'll see and if you're not using 802.11n, 54Mbits optimum. These optimal speeds are what the manufacturers tout, but it is nearly impossible to see them. Believe me, wifi can interfere (pardon the pun ) with even a moderate cable speed of 30-40 Mbits/second. Summary: wired is always better, but there are ways to maximize your wifi connection.
I will put the last 5 of my first 10 tips online over the next few days ... but, please feel free to reply to this post or PM me if you need help doing these things.
I hope some of this helped!
President & Lead Network Engineer
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