Fortunately, high-speed Wi-Fi is now pretty ubiquitous, especially if you live in a major metropolis. However, there are still occasions when you'll find yourself without a strong Internet connection, whether it's on a long train trip, in a dodgy hotel, or when you're tethering from your phone in a remote wilderness. A couple of quick browser tweaks can improve your online experience.
There are a variety of options here, big and small, but two of the simplest and most effective are to block images and plug-ins. Until you do so, you might not realise just how visual the Web has become, plastered with high-resolution banner images, videos, advertisements and backdrops. Blocking plug-ins will nix most video and interactive content, like Netflix.
It's easiest in Chrome, where images and plug-ins can be blocked from Content settings on the Settings page. In Firefox you'll need to load the about:config page and change the permissions.default.image value to 2, while plug-ins can be blocked via the Add-ons option on the main menu.
In Safari, you need to tick Show Develop in menu bar on the Advanced tab of Preferences, then open the new Develop menu to find the option to disable images; plug-ins can be blocked from the Security tab of Preferences. Lastly, the settings in Internet Explorer can be found in the Tools menu — select Internet Options and Advanced to disable images or Manage add-ons to control the plug-ins currently installed.
So what will you be left with? Sites like YouTube will be pretty much useless, and Facebook and Twitter will look radically different, but this new text-based world will be very fast to move around in. You can click around news sites, email and Wikipedia smoothly even a sluggish Internet connection, enabling you to crunch through some work or reading without having to watch images appear line by line. It's sort of like a crude version of Instapaper that works across the whole Web. And sometimes, that's just what you need.