Computers have become so much a part of modern life that one feels helpless without them. They are the lifeline for everything, including staying in touch, sharing and finding information, business, education, entertainment, etc. People spend hours on the net daily, browsing through favourite websites, enjoying music and videos or simply hanging out on social networking sites. All this is aside from official uses by businesses and organizations.
An important concern that crops up often with such frequent network users is the internet speed and data usages. This is because people are usually on plans that come with fixed data usage and bandwidth. Searching for ways to minimize data usage is usually a point of interest for such heavy users. Interestingly enough there are a number of ways by which you can control your data usage. This would result in increasing browsing time as well as download speeds. Here are some interesting tips and tricks to minimize your data usage:
You should set your Windows connection as ‘Metered’ so that Windows is aware that you have limited data. It will stop using excessive data for upgrades and sync in the background. It basically puts a brake on all the background data vampires that hog bandwidth.
In case you are still using the default Microsoft browser, it’s time to ditch it. Internet Explorer and Microsoft lag far behind browsers like Google Chrome which use compression technology and booster modes which load web pages much faster using lesser data.
Chrome has a data saver feature which you can install as it saves on bandwidth by restricting download of images on web pages and sets plug-ins as ‘click-to-run’ only. This reduces your data usage considerably.
Disable Auto updates
Software like anti-virus, security, iTunes, etc, keep auto-updating in the background once the PC is in use. You need to disable them to conserve data.
A number of apps and software start loading and hogging data when you boot your PC. You need to select the apps that you don’t want starting automatically and block them.
Adware and malware
Scan your PC for malware and remove it. This reduces internet usage and secures your memory resources.
Disable cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox. Cloud storage syncs your data and files in the background, consuming bandwidth. A better option is to save your files offline.
Disable auto-sync and Backups
While people prefer to automatically backup their files, it’s better to do it manually as it consumes fewer data. Reduce frequency of sync and backup too to save on data.
Also known as Voice over IP, VOIP is gaining importance all over the world wherever internet is available. It allows callers to make free phone calls over a LAN (local area network) or internet. This technology has a list of attractive features and a price that’s unbeatable.
VOIP essentially uses a technology that converts analogue voice signals into digital packets of information. And when these packets are sent over the internet, they allow conversations to take place in any part of the world with internet connectivity. Businesses which require frequent voice connectivity are increasingly turning towards cheap VOIP technology.
While VOIP has numerous benefits, it’s only fair to mention that it has its share of disadvantages too. Here is a look at some of these pros and cons:
- Low cost: Compared to the traditional phone, VOIP phones are very cheap as they work off the internet. With VOIP, calls from PC to PC are free and from PC to landlines, there is a nominal charge. You also don’t have to pay monthly rentals as with traditional phones. You only need pay for the internet and the VOIP is taken care of automatically.
- Accessibility: A VOIP phone isn’t affected by location or distance. As long as you are able to sign into your broadband account and connect with another PC, whether it’s on the road, the office, home or across the country, your VOIP calls are going to cost the same. This portability makes your VOIP phone more convenient than the conventional phone line.
- Features: VOIP services are rich with features which would cost you extra over a traditional landline. Features like call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID or conferencing come at no additional cost with VOIP. You can even exchange data files during the conversation, making meetings more meaningful. You can also connect numerous phones to the same VOIP with only the bandwidth being the limiting factor.
- Bandwidth dependency: Sometimes during peak hours, the bandwidth available may be insufficient or the connection may be limited to clear VOIP calls, thereby reducing sound quality. You may need to check your network speeds.
- Internet connection: You can’t operate a VOIP phone without a reliable internet connection with sufficient bandwidth. Your VOIP call will fail.
- Power supply: VOIP systems, along with the internet, require an uninterrupted power supply to remain functional – unlike the traditional phones.
- Latency: Due to network congestions, there may be delays or lags in VOIP data packet delivery. This results in annoying delayed quality-voice deliveries.
However, the advantages of VOIP appear to outweigh the disadvantages.
For those of you not in the know, VOIP refers to Voice over IP and allows users to make cheap phone calls using the internet. VOIP can be used over a number of devices including computers, laptops, ATAs (Analog terminal adaptors) and IP phones. With advancements in this relatively new technology, this system can now be used on smartphones and tablets too.
It’s easy to download and install the VOIP software, taking about five minutes to install. You don’t need a professional to do it for you and neither do you need to throw away your old device before checking whether it’s compatible, as many devices can support VOIP.
To most people, the working of VOIP still remains a mystery. But once this revolutionary technology is understood, it can lead to a lot of savings as you won’t have to maintain a traditional phone line as well as an internet connection. You would be able to use VOIP to make your PC to PC calls or PC to regular land phones or mobile phones at nominal rates. This would enhance businesses, not just financially, but by increasing accessibility too. VOIP enhances productivity, enhances collaboration while reducing costs.
How VOIP Works
This modern technology converts analogue-digital voice calls into packets of information before sending them over the internet. They are received as voice signals and allow for conversations to take place. You can place a VOIP call anywhere in the world, provided there is a reliable internet connection available.
To understand packets better, think of them as postcards with limited amounts of information that are sent through the postal mail. To send a long message, you would need a number of postcards that means, and these postcards have to be maintained in a sequence to make sense. Packets work in the same way.
The packets travel just like regular data such as emails over the public internet or IP network. An IP network ensures better voice quality for VOIP communications. All that is required is using the microphone and speakers of the computer for speaking and listening. Alternatively, you could plug in a headset too.
VOIP is a boon for small businesses as it enhances collaborations. You can easily add other phone extensions to the same connection and employees can individually or simultaneously together use the single interface for easy collaboration through voice, video chat, web conferencing as well as instant messaging.
You can use this system on the road, at home or across the country – as long as you are able to log into your broadband!
D2 and D3 modems are also known as DOCSIS modems with the full form standing for Data over Cable Service Interface Specifications. DOCSIS is an international telecommunications standard which allows the addition of high-bandwidth data transfer over a coaxial cable TV system.
It is of significance to both internet users as well as providers as it allows for increasing internet speeds without having to replace the coaxial cable network. Fiber optic cables are the best, but providing them to everyone requires a very large capital, making it unrealistic.
DOCSIS matters for consumers as they have to decide which DOCSIS standard is ideal for their use when buying a modem for their cable internet connection. You don’t necessarily have to go for the latest version, just the one that fits your needs.
And when it comes to the differences between DOCSIS 2 and DOCSIS 3, the main difference is in channel bonding, with the latter allowing for comparatively higher maximum throughput. DOCSIS 3 achieves this by employing multi-channel bonding – that is, it uses multiple channels for downloading and uploading at the same time for maximum possible speeds. For example, a DOCSIS 3 modem with 4 bonded channels can provide 4 times the bandwidth of DOCSIS 2 modem.
Channel bonding allows for significantly greater throughput, meaning that instead of using one downstream channel at 38Mbps, it can use multiple channels which translate to infinite speeds theoretically. Modems generally limit these channels to 8-16 downstream and 4 channels upstream.
Depending on how new a D3 modem is and how many channels the ISP provides, it can access anywhere between 2-8 times more bandwidth than a D2 modem. This also allows for a stronger connection. Some of the technical differences between the two modems are outlined below:
DOCSIS 2 modem which was released in 2001 enhances upstream data rates in response to increased demand for symmetric services such as IP phones. DOCSIS 2 specs use 88MHz to 860MHz downstream and 5MHz to 42MHz upstream.
DOCSIS 3 modem, on the other hand, supports QAM128 for upstream traffic while many DOCSIS 2 modems support only up to QAM64. DOCSIS 3 modem was released in August 2006 and offers significantly increased data rates (both upstream and downstream). It also provides support for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). DOCSIS 3 introduced channel bonding as well. DOCSIS 3 specs use 108MHZ to 1.002GHz downstream and 5MHz to 85MHz upstream.
At the end of the day, you have to choose your modem according to your needs and not the latest version.
Most computers use Wi-Fi but users know very little about it. A little background knowledge doesn’t go amiss but will help you utilize your internet connection better. Wi-Fi wireless network technology uses radio waves, just like your radios, TVs and mobile phones, but with a small difference.
Wi-Fi network is a lot like a two-way radio communication system as they can be used for transmitting as well as receiving information to and fro constantly – but over a short distance only. This popular technology was developed to replace the Ethernet cable (which connects computers to the web) and provides interconnectivity between devices.
The technology involves a computer’s wireless adaptor for translating data into a radio signal which is then transmitted via an antenna. This is picked up by a wireless router and decoded before sending to the internet using a wired Ethernet connection. The same process also works in reverse with the router receiving information and sending it to the computer’s wireless adaptor.
With multiple users, most homes and offices use Wi-Fi technology which is a convenient replacement for the multiple videos, audio and USB cables used earlier. In fact, Wi-Fi currently handles about 60% of global internet traffic. Since Wi-Fi use radio waves, they are victimized by other neighbouring Wi-Fi signals, microwave ovens and even cement walls. To cut through the frizz and still be able to deliver a strong and fast signal from the wireless router to your device, Wi-Fi radio waves work at two frequencies – 5 gigahertz and 2.4 gigahertz.
The lower the frequency, the further the wave can travel; so radio waves of 2.4 gigahertz travel further but with lower data-transmitting capacity. The higher 5 gigahertz frequency, on the other hand, has the capacity to carry heavier transmissions in faster and shorter delivery routes.
A Wi-Fi router also comes with security features and has a Wi-Fi protected password – to access the network, you will need the password. But the best part is that Wi-Fi routers are backwards compatible and can be used even with the device you bought way back in 2000! Most modern mobiles and laptops are already Wi-Fi enabled.
Other advantages to Wi-Fi routers are that they are relatively inexpensive and are easy to set up. They are also unobtrusive – you might not even notice you are in a hotspot area unless you were looking for internet connectivity.
More and more cities are now offering free Wi-Fi or wireless internet access to its residents in specific locations.
Gone are the days when the pen was the most important tool in this world; times have changed and now the internet rules the world. The internet offers a collection of important services and resources that are essential to daily living.
By utilizing the internet, people are able to progress in almost all spheres of life. As it’s a worldwide organization of the computer network, it can link people from all over and create communities. It’s a great way of providing and accessing information and is available almost all over the world. Being swift, easily available and cheap, it’s a great way of exchanging information across the globe, saving time in the process. You no longer have to waste time running for information – it’s available on your computer screens now, making the world smaller. Today, the internet is used for different purposes including:
The world has definitely become a smaller place with people from faraway places being able to communicate in real time and cheaply, all courtesy of the internet. Emails, video conferencing, social networking and chatting are some prime examples of live communications at no extra costs. You can even search for jobs online this way.
Amazingly enough, the internet provides access to education too, with online distance learning courses becoming common these days. Online books and tutorials aside from reference materials on almost any topic in the world can be accessed this way. At a click, students can now access peer-reviewed research information on any topic thanks to the internet. Gaining information is so easy now that you don’t even need someone to teach you!
No more standing in queues to pay bills. Just go online in the comfort of your home or office and you can make financial transactions to pay your bills at designated websites of most banks and enterprises.
You also don’t have to step out and stand in queues to book your train, bus or flight tickets – or go through agents who need their own cuts too. Courtesy of the internet, all this is possible with the click of a mouse!
There are so many activities available on the net to help you unwind. You can watch movies, listen to songs, chat or play games or just surf the internet for latest updates on news and entertainment.
Times have changed and now you can shop for almost anything sitting on your computer – and have it delivered to your doorstep!
Life couldn’t get better than this.
An internet service provider – the mouthful version of ISP, refers to companies that provide internet access to the masses and includes ISP giants like Asianet. This service could be for home use, office use or even for mobile users. There are different types of technologies that ISPs use to transmit data to their users. It could be in the form of old technologies like the dial-up or more recent ones like DSL, cable, satellite or wireless systems.
The most commonly accessed technologies offered by ISPs include the cable (copper wire internet connections) and DSL (digital subscriber line). These are excellent choices for home use and come with a bandwidth that drives the cost of the connection. Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be delivered through an internet connection in a given amount of time.
The internet has a long history and was earlier dedicated for use only by government research laboratories; its use further spread to universities and from there on to their employees too. Thus was born the need for ISPs – to serve these employees at their homes and elsewhere. The first ISP was based in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, the USA in 1990.
Internet service providers are also sometimes referred to as internet access providers (IAP). Modern-day ISPs may not only offer internet service for their customers but also provide other services like telephone and cable television.
Typically, ISPs, however, offer internet connectivity to their customers. These ISPs are interconnected to one another at network access points and form backbones or what is otherwise known as the main highway of communication. Thus, smaller ISPs link with larger ISPs for their internet access and these pay still other ISPs in a cascading effect till they reach Tier 1 carriers that are ISPs that can connect with every other network without having to purchase IP transits or make payments.
In a more simplistic manner, look at it as the network or arteries in your body. The major arteries emerging from the heart pass along a lot of blood (read this as data), to the smaller arteries (think cities), which are then passed onto still smaller arteries (neighbourhoods), before finally being passed onto thin capillaries (individual customers).
And this is how systematically ISPs work by bridging locations between faraway countries, states and cities to deliver your data within seconds without any lag. This could be in the form of an email, an information file, an enjoyable music clip, a video download or an online game.
We have all gone through those days when the world-wide-web has seemed like a world-wide-wait – when downloading files seems to take forever. For this reason, the primary deciding factor to consider before deciding on an internet service provider is to check the internet speeds offered. The two major types of internet service providers that easily fit into the budget are cable and DSL; others include fiber optics but it’s a little expensive and not easily available as yet.
Here are some factors that affect the consistency of internet speed and the speed at which websites download:
A large number of users logged on in your area around the same time may result in congestion. This heavy usage at such peak times may result in slowing down of internet speeds. This loss of speed is, however, only temporary and will pick up again after peak activity hours are over.
A poorly configured or corrupted web browser could be another reason why your speed is slow and you are biting your nails. Your browsing history may also result in filling up web browser cache – you may need to clear it up.
The amount of traffic on some websites can limit your connection speeds. Alternatively, the server supporting these websites may be the cause of the bottleneck and slowing you down. For example, if the speed is divided among a large number of people logged on at the same time, the available speed would have to be divided amongst them.
Your computer’s performance becomes reduced if it’s infected with a spyware or adware. You will see a constant stream of irritating pop-up ads that slow down your computer.
Don’t be goofed into thinking that it’s only your ISP behind your slow internet connectivity. The speed of your computer hard drive, processor, graphics accelerator and even the amount of RAM can affect the speed at which your computer processes internet data.
Over time and with extensive usage, your computer operating system can become inefficient, corrupted or configured incorrectly. And all these will eventually affect its speed of internet connectivity.
Certain modems are incapable of handling higher speeds while others performances may degrade over time, resulting in their inability to handle speeds.
Type of connection
There are two basic types of connections – the wired and the wireless (read Wi-Fi). Wireless connections can be slower than wired connections; they are also more affected by interference, congestion and fluctuations in speed.
With advancing applications of the internet, it becomes essential to arm yourself with all the information possible regarding networking technology. And with so much important sensitive information flying across the network, there was a need to develop a way of securing this data.
VPN or virtual private network was the answer to this need as this technology provides a safe and encrypted connection that allows users to access a private network and share information over a less secure public network such as the local internet, while sitting on the other side of the world. The way a firewall protects your sensitive data on your computer, the VPN technology helps protect it online. A VPN allows you to access region-restricted or geo-blocked websites remotely, shield your browsing activities on a public Wi-Fi, etc. Most operating systems include an integrated VPN support that helps in accessing local internet services remotely while bypassing local internet censorship codes. VPN is a simple tool and can be used to do a variety of things including:
1. Business travelers can use the VPN to access their business networks while travelling so they can keep up-to-date with work while they are on the move. VPNs connect to the business network including its local resources, without directly exposing them to the internet, thereby increasing their security.
2. A VPN can also be used to access your home network while you are on the move. This will allow you to access your Windows remote desktop over the internet, use local file shares and even play games on the internet as you if were connected to your LAN!
3. The best part is that if you happen to be using a public Wi-Fi connection, you can actually hide your browsing activities from your local service provider by using a VPN. Without the use of a VPN, your browsing activities on a non-https website become visible to anyone nearby who knows how to use the right tools. While using a VPN, your ISP will only see a secure VPN connection which can bypass connection monitoring; however, you should be aware that your VPN provider may choose to keep a log of your activities.
4. In countries like China, VPNs are being used to bypass censorship and have access to the entire internet – even the blocked parts.
5. You can also use VPNs to access geo-blocked websites; for example, you can connect to a VPN located in America to access American sites like Netflix.
To better understand DOCSIS technology, you first need to understand what it stands for. It is an international telecommunication standard that stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification and is used to provide internet connection via a cable modem. It allows transmission of high bandwidth data transfer over existing cable TV wires. While DOCSIS 1.0 was ratified as far back as 1998, its now also referred to as Certified Cable Modems, emphasizing that the standard is being used to certify cable modems that conform to DOCSIS.
Like most products, DOCSIS has evolved over the years and can now support higher internet service speeds and telephony services, with DOCSIS 3.1 Full Duplex being touted to become the latest standard and for the first time, able to support symmetrical downloads and uploads of 10 Gbps.
You might be wondering whether you really need to know all this information about DOSIS. But it is important as the DOCSIS version matters when it comes to buying an internet package as consumers need to buy a cable modem that is compatible with the cable internet speeds they require. This means that you don’t have to go for the ‘latest version’, but choose the one compatible with the quality of your connection. It also becomes relevant for internet users and ISPs as it allows them to increase speeds without having to replace the coaxial cables completely.
Ideally the fiber technology should be used for high speeds, but that would cost quite a lot, making DOSIS a more practical connection interface. This technology employs a cable modem at the end-user’s premises and another at the ISP’s distribution center. And to break it down further, there are two main components of DOCSIS – the physical (PHY) and the media access control, also known as MAC.
The PHY refers to the equipment as well as the frequency used to transmit data through the various physical systems. The MAC layer on the other hand deals intelligently with the excessive amounts of data being processed, leading to organization and streamlining of signals; each device also gets coupled with an ‘address’ to prevent collision and loss of information.
Understanding this basic technology will help you decide which hardware and service options are needed by you based on your location, internet speed needs as well as budget.
Though you might have gone cross-eyed by now, this information is pertinent to ensuring you stay up-to-date with the latest in technology and get the fastest speeds possible for your money!