Software Review: WebROCKET

As seen in the May/June 2002 issue of LinkUP magazine

By J.A. Hitchcock

When I first heard about Ascentive’s webROCKET program, I didn’t bother with it. I’d just switched from a dial-up 56k modem to cable modem and was enthralled with the jump in speed of my online activities.

Then I began to notice that there were certain times of the day when cable seemed almost as slow as dial-up (not really, but it felt that way). This tended to happen after 6 pm weeknights and just about anytime on the weekends.

I took a second look at the Ascentive web site at and saw they had quite a few products made to make your computer run faster online, keep your information private, make other online activities safer and more. I decided it was time to try webROCKET.

It supports almost all Windows versions, including XP, which I’d recently upgraded to. Download was quick, the file was just over 2MB, and installed rather quickly. Once I rebooted my system, I started webROCKET and found a fairly small window popped up. The options were easy to select, as the tab named “QuickOptimize” was already on top. Pull-down menus followed:

Select your Internet connection type - Dial-up, ISDN, T-1, cable, DSL, LAN (Intranet), Other

Select the Optimization Method to use - Standard method, Alternate #1, Alternate #2, Alternate #3, Alternate #4

Select your operating system - Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000

I selected cable for my connection, standard for the optimization method and although Windows XP wasn’t listed, I selected 2000, as that is usually the default for XP.

There were three graphical buttons at the bottom:

Optimize Now
Check for Upgrades
Get More Software.

I clicked on Optimize Now and waited. The software did its thing, then asked me to reboot. I did.

When my computer restarted and I opened up my web browser, I began checking out what would normally be busy web sites at 8 pm on a weeknight. The first was the Drudge Report, where I get my news headlines. Usually this site is always busy at night and trying to click on any of the links to the news articles is near impossible, especially when those links take me to the Washington Post or LA Times. I was noticing a significant change in speed, but wanted to make sure.

My husband and I have our computers hooked up to the same cable connection. I asked him to go to the same web sites I did at the same time and see who got on them first. I did every time. Impressive!

I then went to the official Star Wars web site to view the latest movie trailer preview for the second episode. Prior to this, it was fairly fast to view the trailer during a weekday, but even when trying it on a weekday evening when everything is usually bogged down, I was totally amazed. The trailer played quickly and in real time, no lags, no waiting.

Now for my comments on the webROCKET:

I had no idea what the Alternate settings were for on the “Select Optimization Method To Use” pull-down menu and even clicking on the link to “What is this?” didn’t really explain it, although it did tell me to reoptimize when I’d changed any hardware or installed/uninstalled software. All the instructions say is to try the Alternate methods if the Standard one doesn’t seem to optimize well enough. No explanation as to what each Alternate method is. I wish it did.

The Detailed Optimization tab scared the heck out of me - it states it’s for advanced users or system administrators only. I didn’t touch it. The Hosts File tab doesn’t work in Windows 2000 (aka XP) or if behind a proxy server, so I couldn’t use it. However, if you have other versions of Windows, you can set up shortcuts to certain web sites by giving them a nickname. After inputting the web site URL and giving it an alias (nickname), the next time you used your web browser, all you’d do is type in the nickname in the location bar and wallah - you go to that web site! Sounds like a nifty feature.

A colorized bar at the very bottom of the webROCKET window shows whether your computer is optimized or not. When it slows down, you can tell by the color bars and the text Status line, then optimize again.

The one thing I do wish webROCKET had was some sort of way to show how much faster my online connection *was.* I had nothing to gauge it by except for my husband’s computer. That’s the only thing I really didn’t like about this.

Other than that one small gripe, this was one of the easiest programs I’ve ever had to set up on my computer. . .and to use.

$29.95 online only (not available in retail stores)

J.A. Hitchcock,, is the author of seven books and a freelance writer, as well as president of W.H.O.A. (Working to Halt Online Abuse)

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