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Broadband Optimizers for the Mac - Worth the Trouble?

written by: •edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 10/30/2010

There is more to managing the speed of your internet connection than relying on utilities that promise much but deliver little.

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    Slow Internet Connection?

    We’ve all been there. Tapping on the desk, picking up a book, switching to a different program or even leaving the room to take a bath or go shopping while you wait for that download to complete.

    Slow internet speeds can be caused by a variety of factors, from poor equipment to bad positioning of your router or Mac, to a poor ISP – but is there a case for broadband optimizer utilities for Mac OS X?

    These tools claim to be able to increase your download speed in a variety of ways, with the end result being a faster download for you, and a reputation boost for the developers of the software.

    However there aren’t that many of these tools still available – mainly because they fail to live up to their promises, or use methods that many ISPs deem unfavourable. As a result, while you might find one or two to try out, you certainly should take their claims with a pinch of salt.

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    A Selection of OS X Broadband Optimizers

    iNetGet OS X Broadband Optimizer Several broadband optimizer apps are available for Mac, including the free BroadBand Optimizer 1.5 for PPC Macs running up to OS X 10.4. This tool claims to tweak the underlying UNIX code of Mac OS X to improve network connectivity.

    For later Intel Macs running OS X 10.6 or later (although 10.4 and 10.5 versions are available), Cocktail is available as a shareware trial, with a one-off payment of $14.95 to use long-term. Cocktail is a much more popular tool, although to be truthful it is less a broadband optimizer and more a system optimizer, which allows you to schedule cleanup tasks to run regularly or at the click of a mouse button.

    What might be more suitable, however, and certainly more reliable than a utility trying to meet the lofty ambitions of a broadband optimizer, is a download manager. One such example is iNetGet 2.3.1 which can be used to download files across the standard HTTP method, HTTPS, FTP and it even downloads files from YouTube. Again, available as shareware, iNetGet is $24.95.

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    Why You Should Avoid OS X Broadband Optimizers

    What these utilities do, on the whole, is give you the impression that they are making your Internet connection quicker; in reality supposed “broadband optimisers" are doubling up on your connections to websites, which they do by supposedly “optimising network settings" for your modem or network card.

    In truth, this sort of behaviour can lead to an ISP banning you, as it is commonly against their terms of service. However, it is very rare for a broadband optimiser for OS X or any other platform to actually work as advertised.

    In fact, you will probably gain more from ignoring Internet optimization in favour of looking at your Mac as a whole. There might be a number of reasons why your Internet seems slow, and some of these could be down to your computer. A utility such as iTools or Moo X should be able to help here.