Determining what kind of internet connection you're using presupposes that you are not working from your own PC or that the set up was enabled by somebody other than yourself. No problem. The following instructions apply if you are using Windows XP, which is currently the most popular home platform. If you are using another platform you may find things work slightly differently.
To find out how the PC you are currently using is connected to the internet, do the following:
1. Click the 'start' button on the lower left of your screen. You should see two columns of applications and programs. On the right hand side in the second segment from the top, you should see one called 'Control Panel'
2. Click on 'Control Panel'. You will see a heading 'Pick a Category', under which are several labelled icons.
3. Click on the icon of a globe and PC screen called 'Network and Internet Connections' You should see a heading 'Connection Manager' under which will be one or more connection options. One of these will say 'connected' and that is the means by which you are connected to the internet.
It is possible to set up a PC with more than one means of connection. For example a cable user may opt to install a dial up connection for use in the event that a problem occurs with the cable connection and access is a priority. In such a case you will see the dial up connection under the heading 'dial up'. If you need to connect, right click and choose the option 'connect'. If any password is needed or there is a problem, you will be notified by an automated error message, etc. Don't be afraid to click and right click on any of these icons you choose. Unless you actively change a setting, you cannot do any real harm. If the worst comes to the worst, just switch off the computer and start again.
There are internet sites which will analyse your internet connection and help optimize it. www.pcpitstop.com is just one such site, but to find out how good your connection is without somebody trying to sell you yet another software package, try this:
Go to 'Start' at the bottom of your screen. Hold your mouse over 'all programs' and then over 'Accessories'. In the accessories screen, look for 'Command Prompt' and select it. You will get a small, black 'mini-screen' with a flashing cursor. Type in the following phrase, exactly (cut and paste this if it helps:) ping www.google.com.
You will get back a lot of numbers which may not make too much sense to you, but at the bottom will be "approximate round trip times in milli-seconds" followed by a minimum, maximum and average time. Look at the average time. If that average time is less than or equal to 100 milli-seconds that is what you should expect from a really good ADSL (Broadband) or cable connection. Between 100 and 200 milli-seconds is still good, though not so fast. Between 200 and 400 milli-seconds is pretty slow. This is typical of a non ADSL dial-up connection. If your average is between 600 and 1999, your connection is poor. Unless you are using a satellite connection, which is inherently slow, you need to get someone to check out your connection.