Is your computer up to speed?
A broadband connection is only effective when your computer is up to speed. If your computer was purchased new in 2011 or later, most likely it is. Your "download" and "upload" speeds may depend on your Internet Service Provider, but generally you will need to meet the following requirements to run broadband from your PC or Mac:
- One of the following operating systems:
- Windows ("Vista" or "8" are best but "XP" or "2000" will work)
- Mac OS 10.3 or higher
- A processing speed of 300MHz or above for PC and 120MHz or above for Mac
- 256MB of free space on your hard drive
- 512MB or more RAM
If you're using a PC:
Go to the Start menu and search for "Network." Click on "Network." Click on "View status" to get information on your Internet speed.
If you're using a Mac:
Open up the System Information application from Spotlight search, or through Applications -> Utilities. Once you’re there, navigate down to Network -> Wi-Fi or Network -> Airport depending on how old your MacBook and version of OS X might be, and you’ll see the current connection over on the right.
Internet User's Equipment Checklist
You have a computer that fits the above requirements and are on your way to getting Internet from an Internet Service Provider, or ISP, but what else do you need to go online? Below is a simple list of basic hardware and software requirements that will make your Internet experience even better.
- Internet browser software: We’ve provided a list of choices for you here.
- Anti-virus software: Symantec/Norton or McAffee are the two most common. These will help defend you against nasty programs that will erase parts of your hard drive. For more information on protecting yourself visit here.
- Email software: Visit here for more information on choosing a free service.
- Plug-In software: These are optional software additions that enhance and/or add functionality to a web browser, allowing you to watch online movies and animation, hear sound and music, read special Adobe documents, play online games, and more. The most-common ones you will need and can download for free are: Java, Flash Player, Windows Media Player, Real Audio music player, Apple Quick Time.
- Stereo speakers, microphone, and webcam: These optional hardware devices will allow you many possibilities for interacting with the web such as placing a call to friends and family via the Internet (visit here to learn more about this). Some computers have a built in webcam and microphone so ask when you shop for a computer look to see if they have this.
- Printer and Scanner: These are popular hardware devices for people who work from their home but are becoming increasingly popular for personal use as well, especially for children in school.
- Keyboard and mouse: If you’re working from a laptop or just don’t like the keyboard or mouse that came with your computer there are several options to choose from including wireless or ergonomic ones that fit your hands.
- Assistive Technology: People with disabilities may require some assistance to use the computer and Internet. To learn more see our section on Accessibility here.