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#Broadband

Tips for faster downloads: How I combined two internet connections

   
Image via WikiHow
Image via WikiHow

Recently during the holiday season my primary internet connection started acting up. It seems there is a signal problem affecting my upload speed, so it takes an inordinately long time to complete simple tasks such as processing the GET request although the download is a breeze once this obstacle is surmounted with download threads achieving the expected 1 Mbps .

Coincidentally my iWayAfrica connection started working about the same time achieving similar speeds without the upload speed problem.

As I sat there twiddling my thumbs, waiting for the ZOL technicians to come and fix the problem (I am still waiting by the way), and waiting for my downloads to complete using the working connection I started wondering if there was a way to combine the two connections and get the best of both worlds?

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After going through the Google hoops I am happy to tell you there are indeed several methods that allow you to do this and being the good man I am, I will only share with you the ones that yielded the best results.

Caveats

Naturally there are several things that you should know before we begin:

  • This method works only with two or more desperate broadband connections i.e. the gateways have to be different. For example combining two internet connections using an Ethernet cable and WiFi which are connected to the same CPE internet connection achieves nothing.
    If your ISP says you will get up 1 Mbps connection you will get just that, unless if they decide to give you a Christmas holiday gift which is likely to be temporary.
  • With the methods mentioned below you are unlikely to see an increase in your browsing speed since your browser can only use one internet connection at a time. The real speed benefit is obtainable using a multi-threaded internet download manager such as Freedownload Manager or IDM or, God Forbid, when downloading Torrents.
  • NB You will only see the aggregate of the two connections when using multi-threaded download managers.

Method 1

This method works when you are using WiFi and Ethernet connections or multiple WiFi and Ethernet connections.

  1. Make sure the two interfaces are physically connected and up.
  2. Go to your Network and Sharing Center and Select Change Adapter Settings
  3. Select the two/more connections that you want to combine, right click and select the Bridge connections settings.
  4. Wait until a new adapter appears and you are done
  5. This will not work with connections that appear and interface as Dial Up connections such as CDMA or 3G even though they are broadband connections.

Method 2

Use Connectify Dispatch software. This software will allow you to combine all your internet connections including Mobile Broadband and produce a nice real time graph to show the throughput of all your network interfaces both separately and combined.

If you invest in the Pro version, which you should only do if you often use multiple connections, you can restrict certain apps to certain connections, set up data limits for each interface, prioritize certain interfaces and of course receive support.

This would be the perfect solution if you are one of those Windows lackeys who believe software should come bundled and wrapped up with a nice bow and work right out of the box. The software is bundled with Hotspot Pro ( allows you to create WiFi hot spots using your computer and costs $16.50).

Method 3

For the geeks among us there is always the FOSS method. Dispatch proxy is a FOSS solution that allows you to use multiple connections and “combine” them as one by creating a locally hosted proxy on your computer and configuring your apps to use this proxy instead of connecting directly to the internet. And yes you can use Bittorrent over a Socks proxy server.

  1. First you will need to install node.js on your computer (which for the benefit of our Windows counterparts comes nicely packaged as a Windows installer)
  2. Open CMD.exe ( the command prompt as administrator) and run the command “npm install -g dispatch-proxy” without the quotes. This will automatically download Dispatch Proxy and install it to your computer.
  3. To verify that it has been installed run the command: dispatch -V the option is a capital V and the command should output a version number of the installed version of Dispatch proxy.
  4. To start Dispatch run the command dispatch start this will start a Socks proxy server on localhost (127.0.0.1) port 1080 and will output all the IP addresses of the connections  which are being combined.
  5. You can read Dispatch Proxy’s documentation on how to assign priorities to various gateways.
  6. Configure each app that you want to use the combined connection via the proxy at localhost. If for some reason you prefer an HTTP proxy instead of a Socks proxy you should start Dispatch proxy with the command: dispatch start –http instead.

NB You can force certain applications to use specific interfaces using the ForceBindIP utility when using multiple interfaces.

For what it’s worth I would recommend the second and third method. Using the third method I have been able to achieve speeds of nearly 4 Mbps using my two connections on happy days using an internet download manager.

Method 3 also works on Ubuntu Linux (and if you must ask it also works on Linux Mint and other Linux distributions, with a few tweaks of course), just install Node.js using the command: sudo apt-get install update&& sudo apt-get install nodejs npm Dispatch Proxy can be installed using the same command as in Windows.

Happy Holidays and Happy Downloading.


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