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Friday, April 16, 2010

Tweaking XP: To Speed Up Your Internet Access

Tweaking your Internet connection for speed
Almost every computer user has different Internet connection conditions. Some users have very high-speed connections, while others have slow connections. Some users have high-speed connections using cable-based technologies, while others have high-speed connection through DSL-based technologies. On top of these differences, some are located farther away from their local network switching station than others and have a higher latency (delay) on their connections because of the distance the data has to travel. All of these different connection conditions make every user unique.
The TCP/IP protocol settings can be optimized for best speed under each of these situations. By default, Windows XP has these settings set in a "one size fits all" approach. As I mentioned earlier, Windows has to be abstract in certain areas because of its broad user base. Because of this approach, many users can fine-tune their settings to be optimal for their connection conditions. Doing so will optimize the data transferred so your network connection will be more efficient, leading to high speeds.
With a little help from some fine online tools and software programs, you can test your Internet connection and decide what needs fine-tuning. The process of tweaking your Internet connection is not always easy, but it is doable.
Caution: Before going any further, you are strongly advised to create a system restore point, so that if things go wrong, which is not very likely, you will have a backup.
The next step in the tweaking process is to get all of the software that is needed. The main software program that you will use is called CableNut, which is developed by CableNut Software and is available for free at CableNut is a great program that allows users to edit their Internet settings easily. Visit their Web page and download and install the latest copy. 

Calculating settings for CableNut
Once you have downloaded CableNut, you are ready to start getting information to use with the program. The first value that you will need to calculate is the latency of your connection when it is active. To do this, you will use the trace route command built into Windows XP. Follow these steps to get the latency value to use for your connection: 
  1. First, open up a Command Prompt window. This can be done by clicking the Start Menu and selecting Run. Then type cmd in the text box and click the OK button.
  2. Once Command Prompt is loaded, you are ready for the next part. Because you will need to test your connection when it is active, you will need to find something large to download that will run the duration of the test, which will be approximately 30 seconds. I recommend that you head over to and find some huge file, such as the .NET SDK framework, which is over 100,000 KBs. For the test, you want a file big enough so it will be downloading throughout the whole test. Those of you on a dialup connection can pick a much smaller file than those on a high-speed connection. 
  3. Once you have your download test file picked out, start the download and switch back to the Command Prompt window. In that window, type tracert During the test, you will see many times displayed in milliseconds. After the test finishes, pick the highest time, as shown in Figure 11-12. This is the number that you will use as your latency. Also, feel free to cancel the download after the test is finished. 

Entering the latency value into CableNut
Now that you have the latency value calculated, you are ready to enter this information into a great online CableNut settings calculator written by Joe Zeiler. Open up your Web browser and visit (the URL is case-sensitive!), then follow these steps to get the values to enter into CableNut: 
  1. Once you have opened up the site, the first part of using the settings calculator is to select your connection type from the drop-down box.
  2. Next, you will have to do a little research and find out exactly what your upload and download speeds should be for your Internet connection. I had to contact Comcast, my ISP, to find out the exact values, because the values are not always advertised. Once, you get those values, make sure that they are in kilobits per second and not kilobytes per second (KB= kilobytes; Kb= kilobits), then enter them in the corresponding text boxes on the Web page. 

  1. Enter the latency value that you calculated earlier into the latency text box on the Web page and then click the Calculate button.
  2. After you hit the Compute Settings button, scroll down and you will see the values that were calculated. Now, you are almost done. Continue scrolling down until you see a button labeled CCS File Generator under the Cablenut setting files section. Click that button and a new window will pop up with some text in it. Make sure that you have any pop-up blockers disabled when you are using the calculator.
  3. Use the mouse and select all of the text and numbers that are displayed in the pop-up window. Right-click the mouse and select copy to copy all of the text on the page to the clipboard.
  4. Now open up Notepad from the Accessories folder. In the blank Notepad window, paste the contents of the clipboard by right-clicking the white background and selecting Paste.
  5. Once Notepad is displaying the information that you copied from the pop-up window, all that is left is to save the file in the CableNut format. To do this, click the File menu bar item and select Save As. Then in the Save As Type drop-down box, select All Files. Key in myCableNutSettings.ccs in the file name text box. Specify the Save location, such as the desktop, and click the Save button.
You are now finished with the calculations that will optimize your Internet connection. That wasn't too hard now, was it? 

Using CableNut to adjust settings
Now that you have created your CableNut settings file, or will be using the 56K settings file, you are ready to start using CableNut. Follow these steps to import the new optimized settings into your system: 
  1. Start up the CableNut application by opening the Start Menu and browsing to the CableNut folder and selecting the adjuster application.
  2. When CableNut has loaded, click the File menu bar item and select Open Custom Settings File. Navigate to where you saved your settings file, or if you are a 56K user, use the file that is on the companion CD, called 56K_CableNut.ccs, and then click the Open button.
  3. Now you will see the information boxes for all of the different parameters filled with your connection-specific information, as shown in Figure 11-13. The last step is to click the Save to Registry button and you are finished. After you click the Save button, reboot, and your new settings will be in effect. 

According to, some of the CableNut settings can cause problems for a small amount of DSL customers. If you are experiencing network problems after optimizing your connection, use System Restore to revert to your last restore point. You may try the settings again, but blank out the MaxNormLookupMemory, MaxFreeTcbs, MaxHashTableSize, and FastSendDatagramThreshhold fields before applying. If you continue to have problems, or if you have problems with the directions and still want to optimize your connection, a great forum to get help on this topic is at,

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