Some people do not have the luxury of having lightening fast internet speed at their house for many reasons. You could be like me and live in the country with few options (I currently have a consistent but slower broadband provider). You could be in the city but limited by geography (I once worked for a place that was right in the middle of the city but railroad tracks prevent us from getting any acceptable high-speed internet)…
Whatever the case maybe, do what your ISP is doing anyways and cache your internet content through a proxy server.
What is Caching
Your web browser does it already. When your request a webpage your browser goes to the internet to fetch the information required to render the webpage. If you frequent the site in question, chances are that some of the information has been seen before, therefore stored in the cache of the web browser so it only has to get new content from the internet. This effectively speeds up your surfing experience. Now picture a program that specializes in doing that for a lot more webpages, has tons of disk space and does it faster.
Introducing Squid Proxy
Squid Proxy Server has been around for years. ISP’s and big companies alike use it to speed up the internet experience for their users. It is highly configurable and is available for both Windows and Linux.
The good news is that for the everyday user, with some small tweaks it is good to go practically out of the box. I installed it on a spare server I had but if you only use one computer on your network to surf you can also install it on the same machine. It just requires a slightly different tweak. Don’t worry, I won’t get to technical.
Get Squid Proxy For Windows
Go to http://squid.diladele.com/ to get squid proxy for Windows. It is as simple as downloading the program and running the install file. It runs as a Windows service so it will always be running even when you reboot your computer. It runs in the system tray at the bottom left of your computer screen by the system clock. Run it on the computer you intend to run the proxy server. I will show you two scenarios you can choose from below.
The Install Was Done on a Computer That is Doing the Surfing
This is actually a special case and the web browser will actually be surfing through itself in a manner of speaking. In this example, I will use Firefox as the web browser. Go to Tools / Settings and search for “proxy” (without the quotes). click on the settings button.
Make sure it is configured the way it looks above. When you click OK the web browser is now set up to surf through the Squid Proxy server you just set up on your own computer. You may come across a page that doesn’t like this but it will tell you. You can either put the web address in the “no proxy for” text box (each address separated by commas) or temporarily turning off the proxy connection by clicking “no proxy” and clicking OK. Just make sure to go back and turn it on when you are done.
The Install Was Done on a Computer That Will Proxy for Your Whole Network
You have installed the Squid Proxy software on a designated computer for web proxy traffic. The IP address of the proxy server is what IP address you set for the computer when you installed the proxy server software on. In all cases with a server, the IP must be statically addressed and within in the scope of the network clients it is trying to serve.
In this case the all traffic that is set up to use the proxy will have it’s internet traffic (there are tweaks to the configuration to determine which traffic goes through or not but that is beyond the scope of this post). I will use Firefox as the web browser. Go to Tools / Settings and search for “proxy” (without the quotes). click on the settings button.
Note: The IP address you set in the HTTP Proxy field is the address you set for the designated proxy computer on your network, When you click OK the web browser is now set up to surf through the Squid Proxy server you just set up. You may come across a page that doesn’t like this but it will tell you. You can either put the web address in the “no proxy for” text box (each address separated by commas) or temporary turning off the proxy connection by clicking “no proxy” and clicking OK. Just make sure to go back and turn it on when you are done.
This second way of running a proxy server is more conventional but also requires a little more technical know-how. If it is too much, just try the first way instead. If you frequent a lot of the same sites or you have several users (like I do) surfing on a slower connection, you will enjoy the performance benefits. This is a basic guide to get you started but there is also a lot of information online too!