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How to Browse the Internet faster on a Slow Connection?

If you are using a very slow Wi-Fi connection or mobile network to connect to the internet, then let’s check out in this post how to increase your browsing speed not only on your computer but also on your Android mobile device?

Opera web browser for Windows, Mac and Android comes with a Off-Road mode (previously known as Opera Turbo) which allows you to load almost all web pages up to 5 times faster than other popular browsers like Chrome, FireFox, Safari etc.

When you start using Off-Road mode, your requested web pages will first go through cloud servers of Opera where they will be compressed. The data usage for downloading these compressed pages will be much less than the usage for downloading the original web page. Because of proxy and server side compression, there is less to download on your computer/mobile device and as a result you will see faster loading time for your requested pages.

Keep in mind that when you are transmitting data over a secured connection (HTTPS://), your data packets will not go through Opera’s cloud server due to privacy reasons. In such a case, your computer will be transmitting/receiving data directly to/from the secured website.

How to enable Off-Road Mode on your computer?

In order to make use of compression feature of Opera web browser, first download it from here and then install the application on your computer. Launch the browser and click on Opera’s icon present at the top left corner of the screen:

off road mode

When the Menu opens, click on Off-Road mode and it’s all done.

How to enable Off-Road Mode on Android?

For Android, download and install Opera for your mobile or tablet device using Google play. Run the application and click on Opera’s icon present at the top right corner of your device’s screen and slide the slider under Off-Road mode to ON position:

off road mode android

Once you start surfing the internet, you can see your percentage data savings under the ON/OFF slider:

data savings

As you can see in above screenshot, without enabling Off-Road mode I would have normally requested 4.2 MB of data. But after enabling Off-Road mode’s compression technology, my mobile browser only received 624.5 KB of compressed data from Opera’s cloud server. That’s 86% of data savings!

A little bit of Technical Details about the Compression

When you request a web page, it is first sent to Opera’s cloud-based web server, where the images are compressed into WebP format which employs both lossy and lossless compression techniques.

Under WebP, images that are lossless are 26% smaller in size when compared to PNG images, while lossy images are 25 to 34% smaller in size when they are compared to JPEG images at equivalent SSIM index.

During compression, some of the JavaScript are also processed and the server tries its level best to strip down the whole web page by removing non-essential elements and optimizing the essential ones. This not only reduces the size of the requested page, but it also saves your connection’s bandwidth when you are using mobile data while roaming/travelling OR when your connection has a bandwidth cap.

Following is an example image which shows how Google’s logo has been compressed with Off-Road mode enabled?:

compressed google logo

The image at the bottom has clearly suffered some quality loss, but this doesn’t mean that each and every image that you load in your browser will look same!

image quality

While writing this post, there is no option to set or select the quality of Off-Road images on a computer based Opera browser. But you can select from Off, Low quality, Medium quality and High Quality for Off-Road images by going to Opera’s browser settings in Android.

Important notes:

  • If you are using a very slow Android device, then Off-Road mode can improve the page rendering time and scrolling of the page.
  • If you try to open a dynamic website either on your computer or mobile device with Off-Road mode enabled, then it may not work as expected.
  • Although the traffic between your computer/mobile device and Opera’s servers are fully encrypted, but there is no strict end to end encryption between the client and remote web server when using Off-Road mode. The reason behind this is the compression technology used by Off-Road mode, which needs to have access to an unencrypted version of the page, so that it can strip down elements present in it. If you need full end-to-end encryption, then you are required to disable Off-Road mode from the main menu.
  • Opera browser is a trusted application, but in case you don’t trust it then you should refrain from transmitting any kind of sensitive data like your credit/debit card number, CVV code, username and password for internet banking etc. when you are using its Off-Road feature, as everything will go through its cloud server.
  • While writing this post, Off-Road mode is currently unavailable for iOS device owners.