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Tried-and-tested internet speed tweaks

Does your internet access seem a little sluggish? No amount of WD40 on your modem will help. A better idea is to try these inexpensive system speed tips to make web browsing pleasurable again.

This article appears in the January 07 issue of PC Advisor, onsale now in all good newsagents.

The Hassle: I've had DSL (digital subscriber line) for a year, but at times it still feels a little slow.

The Fix: A service called OpenDNS (opendns.com) offers faster internet access, email and an FTP (file transfer protocol) server. Best of all, it's free. DNS (domain name servers) translate site names, such as PCAdvisor.co.uk, into IP addresses that computers can then use to find one another on the net.

Most people use their ISP's DNS services by default, but some providers are slow. Switching to OpenDNS has advantages. First, it's faster because it stores requests in a large cache. If you ask for the same IP address that other users have requested, OpenDNS doesn't need to look elsewhere. Make an error when entering a site address and, rather than getting a 'page not found' error, you're delivered to the site. And a warning appears if you reach a phishing site.

Setting up OpenDNS is easy. Just follow the instructions here.

The Hassle: My free advert blocker isn't up to the job. I've started using the Google pop-up blocker, but I'm still plagued by a handful of ads.

The Fix: My secret weapon is Ad Muncher, the most effective and simplest advert and pop-up blocking utility I've seen. You'll have to fork out $25 (about £13) for it, or you can load up the 30-day trial; get it at www.admuncher.com or on the January 07 cover disc. But it's effective, blocking almost all banner, Flash, floating and text adverts I've encountered. When you try it, ensure you disable your existing blocker.

If a website doesn't work correctly, or if you want a site's pop-up to, er, pop up, it's an easy fix. Right-click Ad Muncher in the system tray, choose the My Filters tab, click New, cut-and-paste the address into the Keyword field, choose No Filtering in the Filter Category and click Close.

The Hassle: Windows Explorer has many assorted menu items when I right-click on a file – the list takes forever to appear. How can I get rid of some, especially those of deleted programs?

The Fix: I saw one PC whose monitor tilted to the right because it had so many items in the context menu. Seriously, though, many programs add menu items with or without permission.

Getting rid of unused ones can range from easy to exasperating. Start by opening the corresponding program to see if it lets you remove the menu item – look for something such as 'Shell integration'. For instance, in WinRAR choose Options, Settings and deselect Integrate WinRAR into shell. WinZip has it in Options, Explorer Enhancements.

For what's left, I would bring out the big guns. NirSoft's free ShellExView program (www.nirsoft.net/utils/shexview.html or on the January 07 cover disc) lists almost all menu items and lets you disable them so that they don't appear when you right-click.

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