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CHAPTER 04: INTERNET EXPLORER, THE WEB, AND THE INTERNET - Pg. 181

04 INTERNET EXPLORER, THE WEB, AND THE INTERNET We all live on the Web. And so in this chapter, you'll find hacks that make using the Web even better. You'll find hacks for pro- tecting your privacy when you surf, giving Internet Explorer a face-lift, hacking Firefox, building your own Internet Explorer and Firefox search tools, speeding up your surfing for free, and much more. HACK 48: Clear Up Router Congestion and Increase Your Bandwidth A congested home router can reduce your Internet bandwidth and lead to packet loss. Here's how to turn on a hidden Windows Vista feature to clear it up. Your broadband ISP may promise you 5-megabit Internet access and above, but if you've got a router prone to congestion, you may be getting nowhere near those speeds. Routers can get congested if their incoming packet buffers get full. When this happens, the router drops packets, and bandwidth suffers. In addition, streaming media such as videos may drop packets, and the video may appear jerky, or you may not be able to view it all. Windows Vista includes a hidden feature, called Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) that can help clear up the problem. Microsoft even claims that ECN can help speed up downloads and improve the reliability of data transfer when your router isn't congested. ECN is turned off by default because not all home routers support it, and if you turn it on with a nonsupported router, you can cause even worse connection problems. There is a way, however, to find out if your router supports ECN and then to turn on ECN from the command line. To find out if your router supports ECN, you need to run the Internet Connectivity Evaluation Tool. Make sure you're logged in to Windows Vista as an administrator. Then go to www.microsoft.com/ windows/using/tools/igd/default.mspx and agree to the terms. When you agree, on the page that appears, Microsoft will attempt to install an ActiveX control. Your Internet Explorer security settings will most likely block the attempt. The Information Bar will light up yellow. Click it, and from the menu that appears (Figure 4-1), select Install ActiveX Control. Follow the prompts for installing the software. A new web page will appear. Click Start Test. After several minutes of testing, you'll see a results screen like the one shown in Figure 4-2. Scroll to the Traffic Congestion Test section. If your router passes the test, you can safely turn on ECN. If not, you can't. 180 BIG BOOK OF WINDOWS HACKS