When it comes to the Internet, speed is everything.
Consumers who've switched from dial-up to broadband can attest to the significantly improved experience a faster Web connection brings. And the faster it is, the better.
Of course, Web speeds, particularly when it comes to downloading music and video files, aren't solely determined by what download and upload rate your telco provider says it's giving you. Inefficient processes within your own PC can slow down your Internet experience, regardless of your connection.
If you want to make the most of your Internet connection, check out these free or free to try programs from CNET.com.au's Downloads section. These handy pieces of software (most of which have been reviewed favourably by our sister site Download.com) can measure your connection, organise and speed up your downloads, prioritise which pieces of software receive the most bandwidth, and much more.
Speed Test 1.3
Internet Speed Test Diagnostics is a broadband diagnostic tool that helps you quickly perform speed tests and troubleshoot common connectivity problems. You can measure both the upload and download speed/bandwidth of your Internet connection. Alternatively, you can try CNET.com.au's Broadband Speed Test by clicking here.
Download Manager 5.03
Internet Download Manager is a full-featured package that handles downloading tasks with aplomb. It automatically sorts incoming files by file type and puts them in the appropriate folder. Most important, it supercharges download speeds (it doubled ours).
This powerful download manager stands out for its performance and extensive settings. Fresh Download lets you schedule downloads, access password-protected sites, resume dropped connections, and retrieve multiple files simultaneously via up to eight threads.
Download Accelerator 188.8.131.520
This straightforward and feature-rich download manager is a good choice for active surfers and those on dial-up connections. In our tests, Internet Download Accelerator raised the download speed by up to three times. The neat interface offers several ways to start retrieving a file: clicking a link in your browser, copying the URL to the Clipboard, or dragging the download to a semi-transparent floating window.
Downloader 3.2.651 SR2
Compatible with Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, Mozilla and Netscape, this download accelerator proves to be a nice, well-rounded application. In our tests on a broadband connection, the program accelerated downloads from 50 to 100 percent. Even if your file transfers are interrupted, Mass Downloader lets you easily resume them.
To put it bluntly, some programs are pigs. Bandwidth hogs, to be exact. Many download applications, for example, use as much of your connection as they can. What if you're running more than one at the same time? NetLimiter lets you restrict certain applications' bandwidth usage so more important ones get priority.