How Do I Make Downloads Go Faster?

By Marie Cartwright

Nobody likes waiting for downloads.
i Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images

Slow download times are the bane of many an Internet user. If you find yourself spending a lot of time watching your download's progress bar slowly move forward, it's time to speed things up. Download speeds are highly variable depending on the source of the download and how many people are trying to access it, so sometimes there isn't much you can do. However, some common-sense usage habits can help you get your files faster.

Limit the number of concurrent downloads. While you may be really excited to get a band's new album, a recently released video game and several new e-books, you might want to hold off on downloading them all at once. Downloading too many files at the same time can greatly decrease the speed for all of them.

Use your bandwidth wisely. Watching streaming video, playing online video games and talking to your friends through voice or video chat can all slow down your overall Internet speed. The fewer of these things you do while downloading files, the better your speed will be. If you are using a shared connection in your home or office, be mindful of others' Internet activities as well. If you and someone else on your network are both trying to download a large amount of files at the same time, your download speeds will suffer. If you don't want your downloads to cut into your other activities, let your files download while you are away from the computer. You might even consider allowing files to download while you sleep.

Find a better source. If your download is going slower than molasses, you may be able to find a faster source elsewhere on the Web. For example, many free applications available through the Microsoft website can also be found through the trusted third-party sites CNET and Softpedia. If too many people are trying to access one site, you might have better luck with another. Be careful when looking for new sources, however. You don't want to fall victim to a scamming attempt or unwittingly download pirated software. Additionally, some computer viruses are spread by posing as or hitching a ride on popular programs. Always check out the legitimacy of a source before downloading from it.

Upgrade to a faster connection. All the good Internet usage habits in the world won't help you if your connection is slow. If you are still using an outdated dial-up modem, it is definitely time to upgrade. Find out what high-speed Internet options are in your area. Research your options when it comes to broadband or fiber optic Internet.