How To Speed Up Your Mobile Web Surfing

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No matter what type of mobile device you have, there’s a fairly simple step you can take that will have a noticeable effect on how quickly web pages load — at least for some people. All you have to do is change the DNS server your web browser is using.

This only takes a moment, and can decrease the time it takes many devices to start loading all web pages.

What’s a DNS Server?

Please forgive me if the explanation for what’s going on here is a touch technical. If you don’t care, or don’t need an update from Internet 101, then skip down to the “What to Do” section below.

You may be accustomed to nice friendly URLs for your web sites, but computers don’t think that way. Whenever you put a URL into your web browser (www.brighthand.com, for example) the browser first goes out to a DNS server (Domain Name Server). This translates the people-friendly URL into a computer-friendly IP address, something like 63.84.188.135. This IP address is what your browser uses to find the web site you want.

Whatever Internet Service Provider (ISP) you’re using assigns you a DNS server. Problem is, these servers are often slow because they are over-loaded. If you request a web page and your browser pauses for a long time before it begins loading it, the problem is often caused by a slow DNS server. Switching to a faster one will eliminate most of this delay.

Before I go into how to change which DNS server you’re using, I want to give a couple of caveats. First, not everyone has a slow DNS server. If you’re currently using a fast one and switch to another fast one, you won’t see any change.

Also, this can only speed up one part of the page loading process. After your browser has the IP address it needs, then the DNS server’s involvement is over. How quickly files are downloaded to your browser after that depends on other factors, like how fast a wireless connection you have.

Still, if you’re currently using an over-loaded DNS server, changing to a fast one can speed up the process of opening every web page by several seconds, something most people would welcome.

What To Do

Of course, the process for changing your DNS server depends on what type of device you are using. That’s why I’ve broken the instructions up into sections.

Before I start, though, there’s something I need to tell everyone who is going to try this, no matter what model you’re using. If during this process you discover that your device already has the addresses for its primary and secondary DNS servers set, then you’re definitely going to need to carefully write these down. If you change to different DNS servers and find that your web browsing is slower, then your going to want to change back. To do that, you’ll need the server addresses you started with.

OK, on with the step-by-step instructions.

Pocket PC

  1. No matter what application you’re in, open the Start Menu and select Settings.
  2. At the bottom of the resulting screen will be a tab labeled “Connections.” Select it.
  3. Tap on the Connections icon near the top of the screen.
  4. Select the link labeled “Manage existing connections.”
  5. You’ll see a list of possible connection methods. (For many people there’ll only be one.) Select whichever of these is your primary connection, then tap on the “Edit…” button near the bottom of the page.  
  6. Starting on the next page, hit the Next button twice. 
  7. You should be on a page with a button labeled “Advanced.” Tap on it.
  8. At the bottom of the resulting screen will be a tab labeled “Servers.” Select it.
  9. Hit the radio button for “Use specific server addresses.”
  10. Below that will be text boxes where you can enter the addresses you want to use. Change DNS to “4.2.2.1″ and change Alt DNS to “4.2.2.2″
  11. Click OK and then hit the Finish button.

Windows Mobile Smartphone

  1. While on the Today Screen, select the Start Menu.
  2. Choose Settings on the resulting screen.
  3. Choose Connections from the list of options
  4. Now select GPRS
  5. Pick your GPRS connection from the resulting list of connections.
  6. Scroll down this screen until you come to “Primary DNS,” then enter “4.2.2.1″
  7. For Secondary DNS, enter “4.2.2.2″
  8. Press the Done button at the bottom of the screen, then hit the red Phone button to return to the Today Screen.

Palm OS

  1. While in the application launcher, find the Prefs application and open it.
  2. Choose the Network option.
  3. From the drop-down list of Services, pick your GPRS connection.
  4. Tap on the “Details…” button at the bottom of the screen.
  5. There probably be a checkmark next to “Query DNS.” Uncheck this.
  6. For “Primary DNS,” enter “4.2.2.1″
  7. For Secondary DNS, enter “4.2.2.2″
  8. Hit the OK button, then the Done button.

Now go and test to see if web pages start to load any faster. They should, if you’ve previously been using a slow DNS server.

If you don’t notice any change, there’s no reason why you should go though the process of changing your primary and secondary DNS servers back.

If web browsing is actually slower, though, you can undo this process very easily.

If you already had specific DNS servers before you started this process, simply use those.

If you didn’t and you have a Pocket PC, go back to where you selected “Use specific server addresses” and switch to “Use server-assigned addresses.”

To reverse this process on a WM Smartphone, just erase the DNS server addresses you entered.

On a Palm, put the checkmark back next to “Query DNS.”

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Thanks to MoDaCo for the tip.

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