How to make downloads faster (possibly)

Having a laboriously slow Internet connection, I get excited when my download speeds go upwards of 150 KB/s. Unfortunately at that rate, it takes a seeming eternity to download large files.

Recently, however, I stumbled upon a neat trick that may speed up downloading of large files on a bad connection. Note that I say may, as it may depend on which ISP you use and as it is currently just a theory, meaning it may not actually speed up your download.

All we need is a browser that has the capability of pausing downloads and resuming them later. I’m going to use Firefox for this demonstration.

1. Find the file that you would like to download. Start downloading.

2. Observe the download speed (highlighted) and how it changes. For Comcast users, there’s a feature called PowerBoost which starts your downloads off with high speeds, gradually dropping to a lower speed. See the graph below for more details.

Powerboost graph

But did you know? You can make PowerBoost happen more than once while downloading.

3. Just click Pause…

4. …and right away click Resume!

Notice that your download speed will shoot up rapidly before gradually falling back to Earth. For me, it shoots up to almost 500 KB/sec, and falls to a  steady 100 KB/sec.

5. Just repeat the steps listed above, and your download may end up completing a minute or two early, depending on the size of the file. This approach does have its caveats, of course, in the fact that you must switch to the Downloads window every so often to pause-unpause downloads. BUT, if you can make the action automated by means of a macro, you may just be in luck!