Use the right hardware to connect your PC, and choose a fixed- fee subscription for regular use
Plenty of home computers come ready to connect to the Internet. The most basic requirement, though, is a modem.

Modems now cost under pounds 100. This buys a 28,800bps modem which also sends and receives faxes, and is UK-approved. Steer clear of anything slower, or any unapproved modems. Remember, the faster the modem, the lower your phone bills. Unless you have a recent PC, check if the serial port is fast enough for the modem. If it is not, upgrade it (to a 16650 UART).

The second requirement is an Internet account, and software. Almost all Internet service providers offer free trials to new users, either directly or via magazine cover disks. Try them out, and see which works best. Unless you really plan to use the Net very occasionally, go for a fixed-fee subscription rather than one that charges by the minute, and one that you can dial with a local call.

The larger Internet service providers have their own software, which is normally enough to get started. Ideally, a package should include either Netscape Navigator or Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

If it does not, budget to buy either of these Web browsers: surfing the Net is far less fun without them.