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Last Modified: 10/20/2002

Version 1.2

NON-REGISTRY PROCEDURES WHICH CAN IMPROVE WEB BROWSING PERFORMANCE

This text file is part of Windows 2000/XP/2003 High Performance TCP/IP Package
(HPTP) [13 KB, free GPL]:
http://www.mdgx.com/files/HPTP.ZIP
HPTP consists of 4 text files:
- HPTPREAD.TXT: ReadMe = MUST read first!
- CALCULAT.TXT: Calculations + formulas for TCP/IP registry settings.
- HPTCPIP.TXT: TCP/IP performance, security documentation + how-tos.
- NONREG.TXT: Non-registry Internet + online gaming performance procedures.
(this file)
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In addition to hacking the registry, there are a few other aspects which can
effect network performance, particularly the web browsing area.

BROWSER CACHE RAM DRIVE

Every major browser, whether it be IE, Netscape, Mozilla or something else


uses a small section of your computer's hard drive to store Internet data
locally so that it can be accessed rapidly if a web site is visited multiple
times. This cuts down on bandwidth because your browser can read the info
right from your disk after the first time, rather than having to connect to
the web site every single time. This can speed things up a lot, but things
can get even faster, by creating a RAM drive for your browser cache.
A "RAM drive" is a special "virtual hard drive" consisting of a section of
your computer's RAM. Since memory can be accessed much faster than your hard
drive (especially if you have DDR or newer memory), and is erased every time
you restart your computer, you can enjoy a faster and more private browsing
experience. Also if you use the same path for all your browsers (e.g. D:\),
data can be shared among them.
NOTE: This may not work with some browsers such as IE, as they automatically
create their own subdirectories (e.g. C:\Temporary Internet Files). However,
you should set all your browsers to the same path for consistency and the
possibility that some won't make their own subdirectories.
To create a RAM drive you will need a RAM driver such as AR Soft RAM Disk:
http://www.majorgeeks.com/download1356.html
This has a control panel applet which allows you to easily adjust the size,
label etc. of the RAM drive. Whatever driver you decide to use, a good value
for the RAM drive is 64 MB or even more, if you have sufficient memory.
More info:
http://www.mdgx.com/newtip12.htm#CACHRAM
More tools:
http://www.mdgx.com/xptoy.htm#RD

EDIT YOUR HOSTS FILE

The HOSTS file located in %windir%\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC (or in /etc/HOSTS if


using GNU/Linux) is a listing of DNS names and their resolved IP addresses.
This file is processed by the system to find DNS names before it checks the
DNS Cache Service or queries your ISP's DNS server. In addition it is not
erased on system startup, unlike the Cache Service, which holds a limited
number of recent entries. While you should not put every site on the Internet
in the HOSTS file, putting in the sites you access most often can make things
a LOT faster.
NOTE: Be careful with sites such as netscape.com which change their IPs on a
regular basis (dynamic IP)! If they change and your HOSTS file hasn't been
updated, you won't be able to resolve that URL! It is recommended that you
leave such sites out of your HOSTS file.
The HOSTS file follows a simple syntax:

IP_ADDRESS DNS_NAME #OPTIONAL_COMMENTS

For example, to add Linux.org to your HOSTS file, you would type:
198.182.196.56 www.linux.com #Linux.org

As you can see, it can be done manually, but it can be a pain, as you have to
resolve every address manually, copy the IP to the file, and edit everything
yourself. Fortunately, there are tools that can help. Such program is called
FastNet99 (freeware):
http://w3.quipo.it/gcriaco/
Direct download [2.82 MB]:
ftp://edtnps109.telus.net/pub/winsite/winxp/netutil/fastnet99.exe
Using FastNet99 you will be able to easily scan the bookmark file and cache of
Netscape 4x, IE and Opera, and then add found entries to your HOSTS file. You
can then add/remove/modify entries and save your changes. This utility is
straightforward to use and has a good help file.
More info:
http://www.mdgx.com/hosts.php

USE PROXY SERVERS

Proxies (for those who are not familiar with the term) are Internet servers
which retrieve and often cache internet data for clients. Connecting to a good
proxy provides 2 main benefits:
1. Privacy ["Anonymous"]: proxies are designed to conceal information about
their clients when connecting to web sites, protecting user's privacy on the
Internet.
2. Speed ["Caching"]: a proxy server caches data from client requests.
Frequently accessed content can be retrieved quickly, often much faster than
if you would connect to the site directly.
Proxy resources on the Internet:
http://www.publicproxyservers.com/
http://tools.rosinstrument.com/proxy/
http://www.proxy4free.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_server
http://www.analogx.com/contents/download/network/proxy.htm
http://www.multiproxy.org/
http://www.mdgx.com/links.htm#ANO

DEFRAG YOUR DRIVES

Just like any of the rest of your files, network drivers and protocol
libraries can become fragmented, resulting in a reduction of system
performance. Defragmenting your file systems regularly (say once a week) will
keep your system (and TCP stack) running at peak efficiency. The built-in
defragmenter in Windows does a sufficient job, but for maximum performance
consider a 3rd party alternative such as DiskKeeper or O&O Defrag, which give
more options and do a more thorough job.

USE A PAC FILE

A Proxy Auto Configuration (PAC) file is a simple JavaScript file loaded by


the browser at start time. The purpose of PAC files is to help block
advertising on web pages to help them load faster and to protect your privacy.
To obtain the latest PAC file:
http://www.schooner.com/~loverso/no-ads/

USE A CACHING NAME SERVER

A "Caching name server" is a specially configured DNS (Domain Name System)


server which resolves and stores resolved DNS domain names and their
corresponding IP addresses. When you type a URL into your browser, such as
http://www.microsoft.com/
it must be translated into a series of numbers for computer use (the "IP
address"). Your request is sent to a DNS server which takes the domain name
you requested and looks up the corresponding IP address. The IP address is
returned to your system which then connects to the online resource you wish to
see. This involves a lot of trips to get the seemingly simple job of
connecting to a site.
However, a lot of this time and trouble can be avoided if you use your own
personal *caching DNS server* instead of the standard one provided by your
ISP. There are some major benefits to this:
A. No long distance lookup required.
B. Don't have to deal with slow, incorrect or down DNS servers at your ISP.
C. Lookup data can be stored for later use, eliminating lookups even for your
own DNS when pages are accessed frequently. Names are stored in RAM for super
fast access, and only functional resolutions are stored (unlike the Win2000
"DNS Cache Service", which stores *everything* by default).
D. Some caching DNS servers, such as the nice freeware BIND-PE port of the
standard BIND:
http://www.ntcanuck.com/
http://www.treewalkdns.com/
also provide access to weird or non-standard domain names such as:
http://atlantic.ocean/
http://planet.earth/
This can be useful if you want to access a site not officially supported by
the big "800 LB gorillas of domain names" like ICANN etc.
In addition to the Windows 2000/XP/2003 port mentioned previously, most Linux
and BSD distros come with a caching name server, either installed by default
or on the disks for you to install yourself. If the package does not
explicitly say "caching", don't worry, the standard BIND package can be
configured for caching or vice versa. BIND is available here:
https://www.isc.org/software/bind/

HOSTS FILE + NAME SERVER TIPS

If you have a caching name server, I suggest you keep at least a minimal HOSTS
file going if you have one already. This is good in case something happens to
your name server, you have it disabled for some reason etc.
Remember: HOSTS file is processed before anything else, even the name server
service, so if the vital HOSTS entries are correct and DNS is screwed up, you
can still have very limited connectivity. Additionally, it can save you a few
extra milliseconds to access your most visited sites, and you *DO* want
absolute max performance right? :)
More info:
http://www.mdgx.com/hosts.php
______________________________________________________________________________
� 2002 Andrew D. Bourdon - GNU General Public License (GPL):
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.txt