Shut Down Bandwidth Hogs On Crappy Wi-Fi Networks To Make Them Bearable

by Anil Polat · 1 comment

traffic jamWireless Internet access is widespread throughout many parts of the world, particularly where tourists and travelers tend to stay. The quality of that wi-fi connection though can vary greatly but you can make even a terrible connection tolerable by prioritizing your applications based on their bandwidth usage.

A Bandwidth Analogy

There are two basic things doing on when you’re online that determine the quality and speed of your Internet connection – the bandwidth and the amount of data you want to send across it. You can’t do too much to increase the total bandwidth since you’re limited by the wi-fi network you’re on, but you can make things a bit more efficient on your end by shutting down ‘bandwidth hogs’ and using them one at a time.

  • Think of it like a highway and traffic. You can’t expand the highway but if you send one car at a time as opposed to all at once each car will get to go faster when it gets its turn.
  • SpeakEasy has a great online tool that will tell you just how much bandwidth you’ve got.

When you get online it’s the same thing – every one of the applications on your laptop like Skype, Tweetdeck, and Firefox, try to get on the highway at once and get jammed up so each moves slower. (That’s a bit of an oversimplification but you get the idea.)

hogFind The Hogs

When you’re on a limited connection, use each program that requires an Internet connection one at a time, depending on how bad or weak the wi-fi signal is.

  • Windows users can find out which applications are the biggest bandwidth hogs by downloading the free version of NetLimiter.
  • Mac uses can try the free dashboard widget, iStat Pro, which doesn’t give you a breakdown by application but has a good network monitor among other things. Start closing Skype or Tweetdeck and see what happens to the network graph.

There are also applications like NetBalancer for Windows which let you create rules and give network priority to applications but it’s easier to just shut them down. You can also try the Opera web browser which renders webpage code faster than Firefox or Internet Explorer. What are some of the ways and programs you cut to streamline a poor wi-fi connection?

[photos by: K2D2vaca, i,max]

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Anil P. April 2, 2010 at 06:59

Mac users you’ll want to check this program, Airport Location which I just read about:

It lets you set and save various configurations based on your location or the quality of the connection your on.


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