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Creative Web Development - CSS, XHTML, Javascript and RTML for Yahoo Store

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Speeding up your Internet Connections in Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer

There are a lot of tweaks out there for speeding up your internet browsing (and downloading) experience, but a lot of them are flim-flam. Some of them do work though, and I plan to post about both types (debunking the former of course), including a pretty nice Word Document I wrote for a few friends and teammates at SolidCactus who I know use Firefox a lot. Unfortunately, I'm away for the holiday weekend and don't have my full resources at my disposal right now.

So, the first one I'll touch upon is the "Max-connections" tweak. Does this work? In my experience, it does immensely. Here's why: when you're browsing a website that has, say, 50 images on it (like a Flickr thumbnail gallery) - HTTP specifications say you're only supposed to download 2 of them at max at a time (4 for HTTP/1.0 servers)[1]. While these numbers reduce load on the servers[2], it also slows down the display of the page, as you're only getting images 2 at a time.

You will also notice this if you try to download multiple files from a site, for example 3 executable or movie files from the same server. If you have two already downloading, the third won't allow you to setup the download until you've finished one, which can lead to a lot of wasted time at the PC if you want to (for example) set up 5 large files to download overnight and then go to bed while they transfer.

As far as what numbers to use for each connection type, I have mine set to 10 (http) and 15 (http/1.0) and it seems to work great. Some recommend using 4 and 8, then trying with 6 and 10 if that's too slow, testing and increasing as you see fit. This is really a matter of personal preference and as I'm constantly downloading batches of files from servers, sometimes I will change mine to as high as 24 and 48.

So, how do you increase this number?

  1. Start the Registry Editor (Start|Run|Regedit)
  2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Internet Settings
  3. Select New > DWORD Value from the Edit menu
  4. Name the new value MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server
  5. Right-click the MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server value and choose Modify
  6. Under Base, click the radio button next to Decimal
  7. In the Value Data: box enter the number of simultaneous connections you want to set *see note above, and click OK
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 using the new value MaxConnectionsPerServer
  9. Exit the registry editor
  10. Close ALL Explorer windows (I've found it safest to close all Folders too, and/or Reboot to be safe if it doesn't seem to work immediately).
  1. Open Firefox
  2. In the browser address bar type about:config (shortcut to the address bar using Ctrl+L)
  3. In the search box that appears type network.http to shrink the list down to what we need
  4. Find and modify the following values:
    • network.http.max-connections to 128
    • network.http.max-connections-per-server to 48
    • network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy to 24
    • network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server to 12
  5. The reason I use higher number in Firefox is because I tend to have many tabs in firefox and will open a large number at any one time (for example, "Open all Blog bookmarks in new tabs")
  6. Or, if you are very familiar with Firefox and know about user.js you can add the following lines: user_pref("network.http.max-connections", 128);
    user_pref("network.http.max-connections-per-server", 48);
    user_pref("network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy", 24);
    user_pref("network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server", 12);
  1. Open Opera
  2. Go to Options > Network
  3. Change Max connections to server to 48
  4. Change Max total connections to 128
  5. Change Size of network buffer to 32KB (this one might not actually do anything, I don't use Opera enough to have noticed a difference)

[1] W3C HTTP/1.1 Connections RFC
[2] Hacking Firefox (and why this might be a bad idea)
[3] Firefox Speed Settings explained (MozillaZine)


  • Hey thanks for the tweak it works great! =)

    By Blogger Brian, at 9:55 PM  

  • That's pretty cool! Thanks, man.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:56 PM  

  • I love your information on internet connections! I bookmarked your blog and will be back soon. If you want, check out my blog on internet connections secrets, please come by!

    By Blogger natalie, at 5:08 AM  

  • You've just solved my Opera issue with viewing Flickr pages. Thank you!

    Opera had been slow as molasses...I did a comparison with Fiewfox and IE and realized that it wasn't Flickr that was slow. Google brought me here, and you solved my problem. Many thanks.

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