Category Archives: Windows

5 Hacks to Speed up Streaming

A lot more people are streaming movies today than a year or even a few months ago.

The mass migration from traditional formats to services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video has brought us the gift of convenience but also technical hurdles.

As much as streaming is becoming the way to go, one can only enjoy the experience when they stream without pausing, re-buffering, and other interruptions. Thus, there are two major categories of persons that stream movies: those that enjoy the best speeds and those that struggle with getting decent speed when they stream. This article highlights hacks one can implement to move from the latter category to the former category.

Fix plugins: Current browsers are equipped with plugins for a wide array of different purposes. As much as certain plugins can guarantee a higher streaming speed, other plugins can be a drag when one streams. Here’s how to balance the good and bad effects of plugins.

Plugins still have a cost to performance when not in use. When a plugin is inactive but installed, it could affect the user’s streaming speed. Thus, it is important to uninstall all plugins that are not in use as they can negatively affect streaming speed.

Plugins are best when updated. Thus, to achieve high-speed streaming, it is essential to update plugins. Different bugs are typically fixed with the updated versions of plugins, and this ensures smooth streaming as well as less crashes and time-outs.

Clear caches and temporary files: When a person visits a web page, a lot of activities occur behind the scenes to enable the user to view that page. Such activities include the downloading of temporary files. These files are typically deleted by the browser when the web pages are closed before one exits the browser or shuts down the device in the case of a computer.

However, in some cases, one does not close the web pages properly before exiting the browser, and the files which would have been automatically deleted by the browser are stored. The buildup of these files reduces browser performance, which includes streaming tasks. Thus, to ensure the best streaming speed, one must delete temporary files and clear the browser history. That way, the browser activity is not unnecessarily reduced.

Switch from Wi-Fi to Ethernet: As much as Wi-Fi is the go-to Internet connection for streaming movies, slow or spotty Wi-Fi can cause streaming issues. With Wi-Fi, one makes wireless connections to their router, and this wireless connection does not offer as much speed as is available on the router to the user. When the wireless connection is swapped for a wired connection such as with Ethernet cable, a user gets the best speeds possible. Let’s say one uses a 10Mb/s router. With a wireless connection to that router, they may receive about 50% of that speed. A wired connection such as with Ethernet cables gives the user at least 70% of the speed of the router. So, all you may need to do is to switch Wi-Fi for Ethernet cables. Your device will get better speeds when you make that switch.

Turn off auto-update features: The different operating systems on devices, from Android to Windows, offer auto-update options. With this option enabled, newer versions of applications are downloaded as soon as they are available with special consent from the user. Thus, when the auto-update feature is turned on, apps could check for updates or update in the background when one engages in other activities such as streaming. This background activity can impair streaming performance.

To stream high-quality videos, it is thus advisable to turn off the auto-update feature. Alternatively, one can check for updates regularly and download updated versions of the apps at the most convenient time.

Reduce device load: This hack is somewhat applicable to other settings. The more individuals that share a resource, the lesser the quantity and quality of the resource each participant will get. Here’s how this “principle” is related to the quality of movies one streams. When many devices are connected to a router, the streaming speed reduces because of the device load. For faster streaming, it is advisable to reduce the device load on a router. So if you’re experiencing issues with streaming, make sure others in the home aren’t using the internet heavily at the same time.

Finally, everyone deserves to stream high-quality videos, and with these hacks, you’re sure to enjoy a better movie-watching experience.

Photo: PresidenciaRD

How to Hide your IP on Nintendo Switch (with a VPN)

Switch is packed with great online features.

Challenge a buddy at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with online play. Then use the Smartphone app to send him a playful message after running him off the road.

You can also download classic NES titles, or take advantage of cloud storage to protect your save data.

Not bad for $35 USD a year and light-years ahead of the online features included with Nintendo’s previous consoles: Wii and Wii U.

Top Two Ways to Hide your Identity

Sony’s PS4 and Xbox One allow users to hide their IP by adding a VPN in the console’s OS. Nintendo has no built-in features like this.

Luckily there are other methods to cloak your identity when connecting to Nintendo Switch Online. Simply use the VPN features built into your router or a Windows 10 machine.

First, Choose a VPN Service

A VPN (virtual private network) is needed to connect to the Internet anonymously with Nintendo Switch.

This means you’ll need to sign up to a VPN service to complement your Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Luckily VPNs that are both inexpensive and fast are easy to come by these days.

The top VPNs are reviewed here. Don’t pull the trigger until you compare them all to choose the best one for your needs.

Enabling a Switch VPN with Windows 10

Many will find they’re more comfortable with turning on the VPN for Switch via a PC rather than risking configuration woes by doing it with a router.

Note that your Windows box needs to be able to connect to the Internet wirelessly for this approach to work.

  1. Right click on the Start button. A contextual menu will appear. Select ‘Network Connections’ from this menu.
  2. On the left of the new window you’ll notice list of options below ‘Network & Internet.’ Click on VPN.
  3. Make sure you have signed up with a VPN service and have the login credentials needed to connect to it.
  4. Click on the option to ‘Add a VPN connection’ with a large plus sign next to it.
  5. Complete the form with the info provided to you by your VPN service provider. Click the ‘Save’ button.
  6. If your PC has wireless capability you’ll see a ‘Mobile Hotspot’ option at the left of the window. Change the login info and turn it on. If you’re experiencing any issues, try restarting your machine then opening and closing it until it functions correctly.
  7. Click on ‘Ethernet’ then click ‘Change adapter options’ listed under ‘Related settings.
  8. Right click on the VPN connection you created earlier, then click on ‘Properties.’
  9. Click on the ‘Sharing’ tab. Check the box that states “Allow Other Network Users to Connect…” In the dropdown box for network connections select the desired Wi-Fi hotspot (It might be Local Area Connection* #).

Congrats! You’re ready to use your Nintendo Switch online with your IP address hidden.

Users have also successfully connected their Switch to a VPN via a PC with a wired connection, as well as an Android phone. The instructions are cloudy but you can read more in the replies to this post on Reddit.

Enabling a Switch VPN with your Router

Turning on a VPN service with your router is also a great option, especially if you’re a technically adept user.

The precise steps in configuring the router’s software vary depending on the manufacturer. In essence you need to find the correct place to enter your VPN address, username and password so your hardware can route the Internet connection through the VPN.

Every good VPN provider has a knowledge base on their website that steps you through the process of configuring a wide variety of routers to use their service. It’s recommended that you check this first for the most up-to-date instructions.

Here are links to the support pages associated with some of the best VPN services:

Majora’s Mask

Although Nintendo doesn’t officially provide an interface to utilize a VPN, it’s fairly easy to set up anyhow. It’s basically the same process as hiding the IP on a PC.

This guide should provide everything you need to anonymously dominate at Splatoon 2, ARMS, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and other multiplayer titles.

How to Hide your IP on Xbox One or 360

xbox-one-settingsThere are plenty of reasons why it’s better to protect your real IP by using a VPN with Xbox Live. First, there are unscrupulous players that use DDOS attacks in games such as Call of Duty to retaliate and get their rivals temporarily disconnected from online play. Second, you’ll be able to take advantage of services available outside your country, such as the U.S. version of Netflix if you live in Canada, for example. Lastly, since games are released in different time zones or on different dates in other countries, you may be able to access new games sooner than your neighbors.

Unlike the PS4 you cannot setup use a VPN server directly in Xbox One system software. Instead you’ll need to share your computer’s VPN with your Xbox One or centralize your VPN tunnel with a router so your home computer, devices, and Xbox all pass through it.

That being said, let’s get to the nuts and bolts of hiding your IP address on Xbox One or 360.

First Method: Connecting To A VPN Through A Router

Step 1

You’ll need to use an Ethernet cable to connect your modem to your router using the WAN port.

Step 2

Next, open the router’s control panel. This is usually accessible via a Web browser. Enter the IP address associated with your router in the address bar of the browser. If you don’t know how to find the right IP, follow this tutorial for Windows.

The next steps will vary depending on the manufacturer/model of your router and the VPN company.

Step 3

Click on the ‘Basic Setup’ / ‘Network’ / ‘Basic’ tab in your router control panel or wherever you can find the options relating to WAN configuration or Internet connection.

Step 4

Enter the information provided by the VPN provider (username, password, gateway, subnet mask, etc.).

Step 5

Choose the protocol recommended by the VPN provider to work with their services (ex. PPTP w/ DD-WRT, OpenVPN w/ DD-WRT).

Step 6

Adjust the DCHP settings depending on the requirements of the VPN service.

Step 7

Click ‘Save’ / ‘Apply Settings’ / ‘Connect’ and you’re finished!

Second Method: Using a PC for VPN Setup

Another option is to use your Windows-based PC to share the VPN connection with your Xbox One or 360. This is divided into two parts: 1) Windows settings and 2) Xbox settings.

Windows Settings: Setting up the VPN

Step 1

In Windows, go to Control Panel > ‘Network and Sharing Center’

Step 2

After you click on ‘Setup a New Connection or Network,’ a wizard will appear in a new window.

Step 3

Select ‘Connect to a Workplace’ then click ‘Next.’

Step 4

When the wizard asks you how you’d like to connect, choose ‘Use my Internet Connection (VPN).’

Step 5

Enter the Internet Address and Destination Name given to you by the VPN provider. After you’ve finished filling in the details, click on ‘Next.’

Step 6

Finally, enter the Username and Password provided by the VPN service and click ‘Connect’.

Now that you’ve completed the settings on the PC side, you’re ready to fire up your Xbox One or 360 and proceed with the next part.

Xbox Settings: Connecting to the VPN

Step 1

Press the ‘LIVE’ button on your Xbox One or 360 controller.

Step 2

Go to the ‘Settings’ tab and choose ‘System Settings.’

Step 3

Now that you’re in the ‘System Settings’ menu, you can select ‘Network Settings.’

Step 4

Xbox One or 360 will now automatically detect the Wi-Fi connections that are available. Choose the appropriate network from the list.

Step 5

Now, enter the WPA key. It can be found printed on sticker on the underside of your router.

Step 6

Finally, the Xbox system software will prompt you to ‘Test Connection.’ Do this to ensure you’re ready to use the VPN with your favorite games!

Recommended services:

How to Hide your IP Address in Vuze

The BitTorrent application once known as Azureus continues to be a popular choice as many are attracted by its slick interface and wealth of features.

Follow the directions below to hide your real IP from other BitTorrent users as well as companies that use advanced tracking software to spy on users who download certain torrents.

Step 1

From the top menu go to Tools > Options

Step 2

Make sure “Mode” is selected at the left pane inside the Options window.

Under “User Proficiency” click on the radio button marked “Advanced.” This will give you access to proxy options not available when the lower levels of user proficiency are enabled.

vuze-proxy1

Step 3

Click on the small arrow next to “Connection” in the left pane. This item will expand to reveal subsections. Click on “Proxy” (listed under “Connection”).

vuze-proxy2

In the main part of the window under the label “Tracker Communications” click on the checkbox next to “Enable proxying of tracker communications (restart required).”

Further below under “Peer Communications” click on the checkbox next to “Enable proxying of peer communications (outgoing connections only) (restart required).”

Don’t restart yet; do that later after you’ve entered the required values in the Proxy window.

Step 4

To continue with this step you’ll need to determine which proxy host you’d like to use.

For testing purposes I used a SOCKS v5 host I found on socks-proxy.net, and while this is adequate for very small files the speeds are much slower than paid services.

If you plan on hiding your IP in Vuze on a regular basis and are interested in larger files like most people (movies, music, software), you’ll need to sign up with a VPN service.

Recommended services:

Enter the information provided by a site that lists proxy host IPs (and ports). As a sample to give you a good idea of what you need to enter, I’ve entered the required fields using a publicly available host from Russia in the screenshot.

vuze-proxy2

Most users will want to want to “use the same proxy settings for tracker and peer communications proxy”, so make sure this is checked under “Peer Communications.”

After you’d entered the required info remember to click on the “Save” button in the lower left of the window.

Step 5

Now you can safely restart the software.

Go to File > Restart Vuze (just above Exit).

All Done

That’s it! You’re now ready to start downloading. Load in a torrent and see what kind of speeds you’re able to get.

VyprVPN by Golden Frog VPN Review

Looking for a slick, easy way to hide your IP without sacrificing speed? Golden Frog’s VyprVPN may be what you’ve been seeking.

Software

vyprvpn-chicagoVyprVPN is available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. This review focuses on the Windows version and was tested using their Premier plan.

The Microsoft .NET 4.5 portion of the VyprVPN installer package stalled on me, but after getting through this small hiccup any initial doubts I had were eliminated.

VyprVPN desktop software is wonderfully designed, intuitive to use, and it just works. It appears in a tall, thin window, like a desktop widget, freeing most of your screen real estate for Web browsing.

Click the big “connect” button and you’ll be connected to the closest server available without any hassle. Every time you do, you are given a new IP to hide your true IP address.

Props to Golden Frog for keeping things simple for the average user by making the most used basic functions prominent. Connection speed bar graph, VyprVPN IP address, time connected, protocol and encryption details, NAT firewall, etc. are cleanly displayed.

server-locationsUnder the hood it offers a great level of settings under the options menu reserved for power users. One notable aspect is the encryption options, which include Chameleon (256 bit), OpenVPN (256 bit or 160 bit), L2TP/IPsec (256 bit) and PPTP (128 bit).

Chameleon encryption is unique to VyprVPN and works by masking VPN traffic so the connection isn’t blocked or throttled.

Speed

Naturally the closer the VPN speed is to that of your vanilla internet connection, the better the VPN’s performance.

To start I tested my ISP speed (cable broadband) in order to compare the results to the performance while connected to VyprVPN servers.

Base ISP speed results:

no-vpn

VyprVPN automatically makes the default server the one with the fastest ping time. If you want to assume an IP associated with a specific country or U.S. state, you can choose from a list of 45 major markets around the world.

The two closest servers to me are Toronto and Chicago.

Toronto server, VPN results:

toronto-server

Chicago server, VPN results:

chicago-server

Speeds were so close to my connection without a VPN I couldn’t tell the difference. Big files were downloaded with ease and HD video streamed without hiccups.

VyprVPN would be a good choice indeed for people outside of the U.S. that want access to the U.S. version of Netflix, which is one of the most demanding uses of a VPN.

Price

VyprVPN has a competitive monthly fee, especially when you consider the high quality of the service. Three plans are offered depending on your needs. The main difference is the number of simultaneous connections they allow. With basic you get one connection, with pro you get two, and premier allows three.

vyprvpn-plans

  • Basic: $6.67/month annually or $9.99 monthly
  • Pro: $8.33/month annually or $14.99 monthly
  • Premier: $10.00/month annually or $19.99 monthly

Learn more about the plans here on Golden Frog’s official site.

Conclusion

VyprVPN is polished, easy to use and the performance is top notch. I’m docking a bit off the score for the installation woes but keep in mind this could be the fault of Microsoft and not Golden Frog.

Highly recommended!

4.5/5

Click here to get VyprVPN software or learn more!