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New ISP- Ten Tips for ISP Shopping

Looking for a new Internet Service Provider (ISP) but don't know which one to choose? Though difficult, it's something we all must do every once and a while. This article will make your ISP shopping experience much easier.

Before signing up for an ISP, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I need dial-up or broadband? If you use the Internet for more than three hours a week, you should get broadband. Generally, the lowest speed broadband is the same price or only a little more than dial-up and significantly faster.

2. If I'm going to use broadband, how will I get it?
There are a variety of ways to get broadband Internet. The two most common and probably the best are through a phone line (DSL) or a cable line (cable). Less common ways to get broadband are through WISPs (wireless Internet Service Providers) or via your satellite dish if your satellite TV provider offers it. WISPs and satellite Internet are generally used in rural areas and are more expensive than DSL and cable broadband. Some areas now have fiber optic broadband, such as Verizon FiOS. Fiber optic Internet offers speeds much faster than typical broadband and is the best choice if available.

3. What ISPs are available in my area?
Gather a list of all available ISPs in your area.

4. What download speed do I need?
If you use your Internet infrequently, you can probably get away with a 256 kbit download speed. For online gaming (and I do not mean games like Internet Checkers), the faster connection you can get, the better. If you plan on setting up a home network and having more than one PC on the Internet at the same time, make sure you have at least a 1.5 mbit download speed. There is no need to get Internet faster than 1.5 mbit unless you share your Internet with others on a home network, download large files frequently, or play online games.

Note: Note that Internet speeds are measured in kilobits and file sizes are measured in kilobytes or megabits and megabytes if the number is 1000 kilobits or kilobytes or more. There is a huge different between bits and bytes! In fact, One kilobyte is equal to 8 kilobits! For example, a 3 mbit (3000 kbit) broadband connection will only yield a download speed of 384 kilobytes at the most.

5. What upload speed do I need?
You're upload speed is less important than your download speed. You should only pay attention to how fast your upload speed is if you use bittorrent, upload files to the Internet frequently, play online games, or plan on running any kind of server, such as a game server or web server. Upload speeds are often much slower than download speeds and like with download speeds, the higher they are, the faster they will perform. Upload speeds are measured in kilobits and megabits respectively.

6. Do I want to run a game or web server?
If you want to run a server, you will need a dedicated IP and your ISP must allow servers. Read your ISP's terms of service to make sure they allow customers to run servers.

7. Are there any limits to my Internet connection?
Make sure there aren't any limits on your Internet you don't know about, such as a monthly download limit.

8. What ISP is the best?
Search the Internet for reviews about your local ISPs. I personally recommend for ISP reviews.

9. Cost and Features
Weigh the cost and features of each potential ISP. Which has the best value for the money? Does one ISP have a feature you really need? Can you get more speed for the same price with another ISP? Do I need to pay extra for a modem? Are there any termination fees?

10. Choose an ISP
After completing steps 1-9, it's time to choose an ISP! Sign up, set up your new Internet connection, relax, and have fun on the web!

Daniel Foster is the owner of PC Fastlane, a great place to find computer help, interesting articles, tech news, a list of over 160 free PC games, and more.