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An additional bonus to having a PCI ethernet adapter is that you will be ready when the time comes to network your PCs together.
2) Make sure that your PCI ethernet adapter (also known as a NIC or Network Interface Card) doesn't have any resource conflicts. If possible, try to make sure it is not sharing an IRQ with any other devices. (This last tip is really not a big deal unless you're a gamer out for the optimal configuration.)
3) In your network control panel, eliminate any unnecessary items. Do -not- remove any of the green adapters in the list! Also, if you are an AOL user, it is best to leave everything just the way it is. Comcast recommends using "Client for Microsoft Networks" and the "TCP/IP" protocol.
4) In your Internet Options control panel, click the "Settings..." button on the "General" tab. Set your temporary internet files (cache) size -below- 10MB. Larger cache sizes will only help those people with dial-ups, IMHO. Surprisingly, the newer Windows operating systems will default at a whopping 1GB plus! Click the "View Objects..." button. Objects are extensions (add-ons) to the Internet Explorer browser. Removing all downloaded program files (objects) will sometimes make a huge performance improvement.
The nice thing about removing these is that they will typically (95%+) just automatically reload themselves if you really do use and need them.
4.A) Click the "Security" tab. If you decide to change the security levels from default, be sure to test usability before and after your changes. The default security settings work great in terms of browsing throughput on a cable modem in the system I work in. If your service provider recommends otherwise, do what they recommend.
4.B) Click the "Privacy" tab. (Internet Explorer 6.x only) This is cookie control central. Cookies are files that a web site places on your hard drive for various reasons. Some cookies are used to save your preferences for a site, or to keep track of items you are ordering from a site. Other cookies are used for tracking how and where you browse, or for marketing purposes. The default setting will work just fine here. However, I have noticed that by taking the settings here into your own hands, you can greatly reduce the number of pop-up windows you have to deal with. I set the options in the "Advanced..." button as follows:
4.B.1) Check the "Override automatic cookie handling" box.
4.B.2) Select the "Prompt" option under "First-party Cookies"
4.B.3) Select the "Block" option under "Third-party Cookies"
4.B.4) Uncheck the "Always allow session cookies" box.
Be aware, applying these settings will fundamentally change internet browsing as you were used to it. What will now happen is this: whenever you go to a site you have never been to before, you will get a dialog that will ask you how to handle cookies for that site. You have 4 choices available: to accept or block the current cookie being requested by that site, to accept all cookies from that site, or to block
all cookies from that site. If you make an error in your choice you can 'reset' that site by returning to the "Privacy" tab in this control panel and clicking the "Edit" button. Once there, simply remove the site from the "Managed Web sites" list to 'reset' the cookie handling for that site.
4.C) The "Content" tab is best left alone!
4.D) On the "Connections" tab, set as your provider recommends. For those without additional dial-up connections, or to force the cable modem to be your default connection, you will want the setting "Never dial a connection". In the "LAN Settings" button area, it is equally important to do what your provider recommends. For those that use RAS or VPN, contact the network administrator at your workplace to get the recommended settings. Have them keep in mind that if their settings don't work with the settings your service provider recommends, you may not be able to use your RAS or VPN through the cable modem, or it may limit your capabilities for normal browsing.
4.E) The "Advanced" tab has a ton of options which can hamper or improve your browsing experience. Most are, simply put, your preference. I have -disabled- the following items (in Internet Explorer 6.x) for optimal throughput/performance and reliability/security:
4.E.1) automatically check for internet explorer updates
4.E.2) display a notification about every script error
4.E.3) enable install on demand (internet explorer)
4.E.4) enable install on demand (other)
4.E.5) enable offline items to be synchronized on a schedule
4.E.6) enable personalized favorites menu
4.E.7) enable 3rd-party browser extensions
4.E.8) reuse windows for launching shortcuts
4.E.9) java console enabled
4.E.10) java logging enabled
4.E.11) enable automatic image resizing
4.E.12) enable image toolbar
4.E.13) As far as the security options on the advanced tab go, change at your own discretion. For the highest security, check them all. (Thanks to tomkcr for correcting info here.)
A last note about your settings in the Internet Options control panel--if Comcast recommends differently than the suggestions that I have offered here, please follow their recommendations.
*This FAQ is based on user knowledge from a volunteer core of BroadbandReports' members. This FAQ in no way constitutes official information from Comcast or any of its affiliates.