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There are few computer-related issues that are more irritating than a slow browser. If it takes more than a few seconds to search for a job Take the Search Out of Job Hunting with JobSamurai Take the Search Out of Job Hunting with JobSamurai JobSamurai is a new web service that aims to give you exposure to hundreds of relevant jobs without actually having to look for them. Read More , chat with your friends, or post updates to Facebook, the experience can be exasperating. If your browsing is being held back, check these five things to get it back up to speed.

Before you look into these issues, though, take care of the obvious things, like having too many tabs 5 Effective Ways to Deal With the "Too Many Tabs" Syndrome in Firefox 5 Effective Ways to Deal With the "Too Many Tabs" Syndrome in Firefox Read More open, updating your browser, and getting rid of malware or spyware Viruses, Spyware, Malware, etc. Explained: Understanding Online Threats Viruses, Spyware, Malware, etc. Explained: Understanding Online Threats When you start to think about all the things that could go wrong when browsing the Internet, the web starts to look like a pretty scary place. Read More . Once you’ve done that, and if you’re still having performance problems, move onto the items on this list.

Evil Extensions

You might already know this, but it’s so important that it’s worth mentioning first. The browser extensions that you have installed can significantly impact your browsing speed. The first thing you should do is go through your list of installed extensions and delete any that you’re not using. That could make a big difference immediately. Once you’ve done that, if you’re still having speed issues, you can look a little more closely at which extensions are using resources.

On Chrome, all you need to do is go to Menu > More Tools > Task Manager, and you’ll see a window that details how much memory each tab and each extension is using. If there’s an extension or two that seem to be using a lot of memory, you’ll need to decide if they’re worth keeping around. In Firefox, you can install the about:add-onsmemory extension to get the same information. In Safari and Internet Explorer, there’s no way to monitor this, so you’ll have to disable extensions one at a time and see if a specific one is slowing you down.

chrome-task-manager

If you find that an extension is using a lot of memory, but you don’t want to get rid of it, consider finding a different extension or coming up with an alternate solution (like using Evernote Clearly instead of AdBlock Plus How to Clean up the Web Without Destroying Your Favourite Sites How to Clean up the Web Without Destroying Your Favourite Sites Maybe it's time to change the conversation: if ads are a necessary evil, why don't we find other ways around the worst of them that aren't so divisive and damaging? Read More ).

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Annoying Antivirus Software

Inefficient antivirus software will slow down your entire computer, but you might notice it the most when you’re using your browser. Independent testers have done a lot of testing of antivirus packages, and one of the things they usually test is the amount of system resources that they use. Both AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives have done extensive testing, and they’ve revealed a huge discrepancy in how much memory your antivirus could be using.

av-test-speeds

For example, AV-TEST used a data-copying task in which OS X was used to copy 26.6 GB of data. With no antivirus software running, it took 66.1 seconds. With Bitdefender running, it took 66.8 seconds. Avast, 72.7 seconds. Sophos, 87.7 seconds. AV-Comparatives’ test on Windows showed that Avast, Kaspersky, and McAfee were very fast, while Avira and Sophos were less so.

Check out the results of these tests to see if your antivirus could be slowing down your computer, and if it is, consider going with a different provider. Because there are so many good free antivirus solutions, it should be easy to find another one (if you’re willing to pay for one, even better).

Pernicious Plugins

You probably don’t think about browser plugins very often, because their operation is generally automatic. However, if they’re running inefficiently, they can really slow down your browsing. Flash, for example, is known to be a rather resource-greedy plugin Why Flash Needs to Die (And How You Can Get Rid of It) Why Flash Needs to Die (And How You Can Get Rid of It) The Internet's relationship with Flash has been rocky for a while. Once, it was a universal standard on the web. Now, it looks like it may be headed to the chopping block. What changed? Read More . Other plugins, like Microsoft Silverlight, PDF readers, Java, and other content enablers can also run on the resource-intensive side.

click-to-play-chrome

The best way to deal with this issue is to turn on click-to-play for all plugins. In a nutshell, this stops plugins from running automatically—they’ll need to get permission from you before they start up. This way, you can prevent them from using system resources when the plugins aren’t needed.

There are settings that you can adjust in Chrome How to Stop Auto-Playing Flash and HTML5 Videos in Chrome How to Stop Auto-Playing Flash and HTML5 Videos in Chrome Auto-playing videos can be obnoxious. Here are a couple of Chrome browser tips and extensions to prevent videos from auto-playing. Read More  (as well as in Firefox How To Stop Auto-playing Flash And HTML5 Videos In Firefox How To Stop Auto-playing Flash And HTML5 Videos In Firefox Does auto-play video drive you mad? We'll talk you through the best ways to stop auto-playing videos in your Firefox browser. Read More ) to enable this setting, and there’s a Safari extension called ClickToPlugin ClickToPlugin Blocks Flash in Safari, Lets You Watch Videos Anyway ClickToPlugin Blocks Flash in Safari, Lets You Watch Videos Anyway Stop Flash and other plugins from automatically loading in Safari. ClickToPlugin doesn't just block Flash: it also lets you play videos without it, or even play them using AirPlay. Read More that will do much the same thing. Using these strategies should help speed up your browsing quite a bit if plugins are causing problems.

Diabolical DNS

A DNS (Dynamic Name Server) is like a phone book for the Internet—it tells your computer where to look to find the URL that you’ve entered in your address bar. You might not think that this could make a difference in how fast your browser works, but it can have a surprisingly significant effect. Choosing the best DNS for your location could speed up your connection significantly.

internet-directory

For all the details, check out How to Optimize Your DNS for Faster Internet How to Optimize Your DNS for Faster Internet How to Optimize Your DNS for Faster Internet "The Internet is just a series of tubes" as one man so wisely stated. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. There’s a complex architecture that supports the Internet, and data packets need to travel... Read More , which will take you through the entire process.

Boundless Browsing Data

browsing-history

Did you know that your browser stores a massive amount of data about where you’ve been and what you’ve looked at? In addition to this being a privacy concern, it could also potentially slow down your browsing. Fortunately, this is an easy one to take care of: go to your History menu or your browser settings, and find the “delete browsing history” button. Get rid of your browsing history How To Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History How To Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History As you browse the Internet, tracks of websites you visit are left on your computer, including cookies, cached websites, a history of visited sites and searches, site preferences, and more. These data reveal your browsing... Read More , cookies, download logs, and anything else that you don’t need. While it might not make a huge difference, it could contribute to a faster browsing experience.

Get Up to Speed

After addressing these five issues, your browsing should be quite a bit faster. If it’s not, you might have deeper-seated issues that should be addressed by a tech (or a new computer).

How do you make sure that your browser stays fast? What strategies have you found to be effective? Share your best advice below!

Image Credits: pogonici via Shutterstock.com, NATALIA61 via Shutterstock.com.

  1. Colin
    June 26, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Question, I have Firefox's anti tracking turned on, plus ublock and disconnect. I find to whitelist sites like Makeuseof and see ads, I have to whitelist all three. Do people need to have an ad blocker with Firefox's anti tracking turned on? This is built into Firefox, not the Do not track option in preferences.

    • Dann Albright
      June 27, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      If you're talking about the Do Not Track option in Firefox, you're probably going to want to use something above and beyond that. Do Not Track just requests that sites don't track you; it doesn't actually prevent them from doing so. So if you're concerned about ads or tracking, you'll need more than the built-in stuff in Firefox. But if you're using uBlock and Disconnect, you probably don't need Do Not Track, as they'll do most of the hard work. So you could just whitelist twice instead of three times.

  2. LimboSlam
    November 7, 2015 at 4:58 am

    More things that can help out, especially with an old/slow computer are:

    1.) Turn off certain features/programs you don't use (Windows services that connect in the background that aren't necessary).

    2.) Turn off certain styles/visual effects you don't need as this makes your transitions between windows/apps and programs mush more snappier.

    3.) Make your start-up time faster by using both of you CPU's/cores and disable/remove third-party autoloaders.

    4.) Disable guest account so Windows can boot directly to the desktop.

    6.) Try a different browser that fits your needs the best, either a Mega Browser or a Lightweight browser.

    7.) Lastly, lots RAM and high speed Internet/WIFI contributes to a fast/er computer all together.

    This all in return helps makes a browser faster while searching the web and transitioning to windows and different programs/apps.

    • Dann Albright
      November 7, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      These are all great tips! Improving the speed of your computer will definitely increase the speed of your browsing. I've noticed that turning off visual effects can make a pretty big difference in some cases; that can use a lot of graphical power. And services that run in the background, especially if they're connecting to the internet, can be a big drain.

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Elinor Semira
    October 28, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    i use ccleaner on my laptop.

    • Dann Albright
      October 31, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Does it seem to help?

    • C??i??? Da??
      December 29, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Me too Elinor, and have been for a long time. In fact I was about to throw a iMac G4 in the garbage when I discovered CC, and wound up using the computer for at least two more years!

      • Dann Albright
        January 2, 2016 at 1:59 am

        That's great! If I ever get another PC and switch away from Mac, I will definitely give that a try. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  4. Bandi Laszlo
    October 27, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    chrome anti-phishing can be unchecked, if you got a lightweight antivirus, it takes out a lot of load
    lot of people use adblocker, i find it very memory consuming but pretty important, its a good solution to use admuncher, now is free and with filters can do a lot like adblocker, and not using browsers ram

    switching to beta
    sometimes is much better, but usally better, and stable enough

    flags-this is experimental, some nice and some useless features turn on and off

    habits: open new tab at start and close the first, loads up useless things anyway

    ram disk: this is a bit more pro tip, harder to make, use a ram disk manager program like DAYU (free on many giveaway sites), then make a ram disk of 1 gb or at least 512 mb, move chrome cache there

    • Dann Albright
      October 28, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      I've never heard of AdMuncher. If it works well and doesn't use as much memory as ABP, I imagine it will become very popular!

      • Dmitriy Tverdov
        October 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm

        It's actually predates adblocker iirc, but proper setup was laborous - and you couldn't just say 'allow ads on page z, but deny SAME ads on all other pages'.

        • Dann Albright
          October 31, 2015 at 2:04 pm

          Is the setup better now?

      • Howard Blair
        November 2, 2015 at 8:32 pm

        Mozilla recent fixed a (years-old!) issue in Firefox that caused AdBlock Plus to use huge amounts of memory. ABP is now at least as fast as uBlock/uBlock Origin, meaning there's no significant speed or memory penalty for having it installed. ABP's filter creator, UI, and Element Hiding Helper integation is also much better than uBlock.

        • Dann Albright
          November 6, 2015 at 5:28 pm

          Interesting—I didn't know that. Do you happen to know exactly what "no significant speed or memory penalty" translates as? I would imagine that no matter how efficient your adblocker is, you'll need to dedicate a decent chunk of resources to deal with all of the monitoring it needs to do.

        • Howard Blair
          November 8, 2015 at 7:17 am

          Here's a couple of articles talking about it:

          http://venturebeat.com/2015/09/23/mozilla-fixed-a-14-year-old-bug-in-firefox-and-now-adblock-plus-uses-a-lot-less-memory/

          http://www.extremetech.com/computing/214823-mozilla-fixes-14-year-old-firefox-bug-turbocharges-adblock-plus

          I would suppose this is the same bug that gave uBlock/uBlock Origin its speed vs. the original AdBlock. I've since switched back to Adblock Plus since uBlock's UI was so horrible (making it nearly impossible to add new rules).

        • Dann Albright
          January 2, 2016 at 1:58 am

          Interesting; the first article says that it's an increase of performance of about 10%, which certainly isn't insignificant. I would imagine that whether or not that makes a big difference in your day-to-day browsing depends on your computer and whether you're already having speed issues. Thanks for sharing these links!

  5. Miles Cannon
    October 27, 2015 at 8:10 am

    With FF (as well with other browsers), search on speeding up FF
    I continue to use FF simply because of the number of easy hacks once how is understood with what "about:blahblah" hack can do

    I am hoping M$ still forming Edge browser will really step up the game when it is released / unleashed into the wild

    • Dann Albright
      October 31, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Yes, once you get the point where you're comfortable messing around with things like that (and flags in Chrome), you can make a lot of tweaks that will increase your performance. That's a great thing to do if you're still having speed issues after trying the things listed above.

      Thanks for reading!

  6. fcd76218
    October 26, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    "Boundless Browsing Data"
    In Firefox, instead of constantly remembering to delete your browsing data, you can go to Preferences>Privacy and under History use the "Never remember history" option. This will delete your browsing history automatically.

    • Dann Albright
      October 28, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      That's true, that is definitely an option. If you're having serious speed problems, that could be a good way to go—I feel like if it's not a dire situation, though, you're losing some valuable functionality that way, like autocomplete for sites that you've visited before and staying logged into password-protected places.

      Thanks for the tip!

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