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Most of us spend hours on the Internet every day. If we’re going to dedicate that much time to an activity, doesn’t it make sense for us to make sure that we’re doing it right? As it turns out, you may be sabotaging your own web browsing experience with a few simple mistakes.

When I say sabotage, that means everything from slowing down your browser What Can You Do To Speed Up Your Browser? What Can You Do To Speed Up Your Browser? If you’re like me and you spend a huge portion of your day browsing the web then you understand how frustrating it is to have a slow, bloated browser that seems to be on its... Read More to leaving yourself vulnerable to viruses and hackers Which Browser Is Most Secure On Your Old Windows XP System? Which Browser Is Most Secure On Your Old Windows XP System? Read More . The sad truth is that “proper browsing habits” don’t require all that much effort, yet people still neglect them — and the only people they’re hurting are themselves.

Don’t be like them! A few tweaks is all it takes to maximize your enjoyment and safety when surfing the web. Less lag, less risk, and less inconvenience all around. Here are the mistakes you need to avoid.

Overlooking JavaScript’s Risks

These days it’s almost impossible to find a modern website on the web that doesn’t use JavaScript in some way. It’s necessary for things like visitor analytics Your Guide To Google Analytics Your Guide To Google Analytics Do you have any idea where your visitors are coming from, what browsers most of them use, what search engines they use, or which of your pages is the most popular? Read More , nifty visual effects, infinite scrolling, and updating page elements without refreshing the entire page itself.

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For the most part, JavaScript is good! But JavaScript is also powerful, and that power can easily be misused and abused when wielded by the wrong hands.

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We recently explored the dangers of JavaScript 3 Ways JavaScript Can Breach Your Privacy & Security 3 Ways JavaScript Can Breach Your Privacy & Security JavaScript is a good thing for the most part, but it just happens to be so flexible and so powerful that keeping it in check can be difficult. Here's what you need to know. Read More and what could happen to your computer if you came across a malicious or overly ambitious chunk of code. It’s a threat to both security and privacy, which is why you need to know what JavaScript is capable of and how to keep it at bay.

Disregarding Browser Updates

You know the notice that pops up every once in a while asking if you’d like to update your browser to the next version? Chrome users probably don’t know what I’m talking about (Google handles it automatically in the background), but for the rest of us, that little notice is important.

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Browser updates exist for two reasons: 1) to add new features and 2) to fix flaws in previous versions. Big features are normally added in major version updates, so most of the time these browser updates are minor tweaks and changes that can be applied in just a few seconds.

What kind of changes? Patching security vulnerabilities, for one. Another common example is improving on issues of user experience, such as memory leaks and performance bottlenecks.

Unless you have a good and purposeful reason for sticking with an older version — e.g. it’s the last version before a critical feature was removed — it’s always best to stick with the latest version of your browser.

Allowing Cookies From Everywhere

You’ve probably heard about cookies before, but maybe you don’t understand exactly what they are or why they’re so important. You can get by without knowing much about them, but if you want to best maintain your privacy while browsing the web, you should learn what cookies are What's A Cookie & What Does It Have To Do With My Privacy? [MakeUseOf Explains] What's A Cookie & What Does It Have To Do With My Privacy? [MakeUseOf Explains] Most people know that there are cookies scattered all over the Internet, ready and willing to be eaten up by whoever can find them first. Wait, what? That can’t be right. Yes, there are cookies... Read More .

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In short, cookies are files created on your computer when you visit a website. These files are meant to store information that must be available from session to session — such as login data — and aren’t inherently harmful. However, they can be used in harmful ways like tracking your web behavior 4 Seemingly Innocent Online Activities That Track Your Behavior 4 Seemingly Innocent Online Activities That Track Your Behavior Read More .

What you should do is allow first-party cookies (which are cookies set by the actual site domain that you’re visiting) and disallow third-party cookies (which are cookies set by other domains, like advertising networks).

Note: Some sites might need third-party cookies to operate properly. For example, online banking sometimes require these cookies for user verification. A more mundane example is Disqus comments, which can break when third-party cookies are disabled.

The “It Won’t Happen to Me” Mindset

On the whole, security is more about mindset and attitude than it is the specific tools you use (though the right tools can certainly make it easier to stay secure). That is, you can do all the right things and still be at risk due to an arrogant approach to the web.

Want to stay safe and secure? Change your security habits Change Your Bad Habits & Your Data Will Be More Secure Change Your Bad Habits & Your Data Will Be More Secure Read More .

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The first thing to do is install antivirus software if you haven’t already. There are plenty of free antivirus solutions Free Anti-Virus Comparison: 5 Popular Choices Go Toe-To-Toe Free Anti-Virus Comparison: 5 Popular Choices Go Toe-To-Toe What is the best free antivirus? This is among the most common questions we receive at MakeUseOf. People want to be protected, but they don’t want to have to pay a yearly fee or use... Read More out there, and while Windows Security Essentials isn’t the best choice Why You Should Replace Microsoft Security Essentials With A Proper Antivirus Why You Should Replace Microsoft Security Essentials With A Proper Antivirus Read More , it’s still better than nothing — so turn it on!

The next thing to do is use a strong password. Learn the characteristics of a good password How To Create A Good Password That You Will Not Forget How To Create A Good Password That You Will Not Forget Read More and make sure you use a different password 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember If your passwords are not unique and unbreakable, you might as well open the front door and invite the robbers in for lunch. Read More for every site to prevent the problem of a hacker who cracks one password gaining access to all of your accounts.

If password memory is a nuisance to you, consider using a password management tool 5 Password Management Tools Compared: Find the One That's Perfect for You 5 Password Management Tools Compared: Find the One That's Perfect for You Choosing some sort of password management strategy to deal with the huge amount of passwords we need is crucial. If you're like most people, you probably store your passwords in your brain. To remember them... Read More . They’re convenient and effective.

The last thing to do is watch out for scams. It’s incredibly easy to be tricked on the Internet, which is why you can never let your guard down. You’ve got eBay scams 5 eBay Scams To Be Aware Of 5 eBay Scams To Be Aware Of Being scammed sucks, especially on eBay. You invest all of that time into selling a particular product or you spend a lot of time researching the perfect item, complete the transaction, and then… nothing. The... Read More Craigslist scams Taking The Battle To Craigslist Scammers: How To Avoid Scams On Craigslist Taking The Battle To Craigslist Scammers: How To Avoid Scams On Craigslist Launched way back in 1995, Craigslist took the Internet world by storm with its innovative cross of classified ads with the web. But as with all Internet-based transactions, some users prefer to game the system... Read More Facebook scams How To Identify A Facebook Scam Before It's Too Late How To Identify A Facebook Scam Before It's Too Late Read More , and even fake reviews The Scourge Of The Web: Fake Reviews & How To Spot Them The Scourge Of The Web: Fake Reviews & How To Spot Them "User reviews" are actually a pretty recent phenomenon. Before the prevalence of the Internet, user reviews were called testimonials, and you’d only see them on TV commercials and product pages. Nowadays, anyone can write anything... Read More plaguing nearly every online marketplace in existence.

Learn the warning signs. If an online offer ever seems fishy or too good to be true, don’t hesitate to turn the other direction. Even when everything looks legitimate, always verify everything two or three times.

Cluttering Up Space With Tabs

“Open now, read it later.” That’s been my web browsing motto for several years now. Whenever I come across interesting links, I open them all as new tabs. You can imagine how they pile up over time, filling up the browser with dozens of tabs that can impact performance.

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The easiest thing to do is use tab groups. The tab group is a minimalist approach to tab overload on Firefox The Minimalistic Approach To Firefox Tab Overload The Minimalistic Approach To Firefox Tab Overload Read More , allowing you to categorize tabs according to topic and only have tabs of a particular group open at any given time. Chrome users can emulate this behavior with the Tab Bundler extension Tab Bundler: Save Tabs for Later Access [Chrome] Tab Bundler: Save Tabs for Later Access [Chrome] Read More .

Or you could always store it for later. We’ve compiled a list of web tools that make it easy to clip pages and websites 9 Tools To Save What You Read On The Web For Later 9 Tools To Save What You Read On The Web For Later Have you ever gone back searching the Internet for something you read and just couldn’t find it? I think we all have – it’s quite frustrating. The problem comes when we don’t take the time... Read More that you can return to later, eliminating the need to keep tabs open until you get around to reading said tabs.

Using Horizontal Tabs

Speaking of tabs, you should consider switching from a horizontal tab bar to a vertical tab bar if you haven’t already. The tabs themselves stay horizontal, but they’re stacked vertically on the side rather than lined across the top.

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The absolute best plugin for this is Tree Style Tab, which is one of several amazing plugins that are unique to Firefox 7 Extensions Firefox Users Love That No Other Browser Has 7 Extensions Firefox Users Love That No Other Browser Has Extensions aren't always supported across all browsers. Check out these beloved Firefox-only extensions that are so useful that you may be swayed over from whichever other browser you currently use. Read More . Chrome users can get similar behavior with an extension called Sidewise Tree Style Tabs, but it pales in comparison to the real deal.

Why do this? Because it’s a more efficient use of screen space. It will feel strange for the first few days, but it’s one of those changes that will make you wonder how it took so long for you to see the light.

Relying on Too Many Plugins

Despite all of the addons and extensions I’ve just recommended, keep in mind that you should actively avoid installing too many plugins on your browser. That goes for Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and even Internet Explorer. Plugins will slow you down 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] We all love our browsers, and we all love the extensions that you can install with them. We love browser extensions because they allow us to do what we want our browser to do that... Read More .

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It’s a tough line to walk, however, because plugins are so darn useful. You’re probably using some form of adblock (please whitelist us It's About Ethics in Stealing Games Journalism: Why AdBlock Needs to Die It's About Ethics in Stealing Games Journalism: Why AdBlock Needs to Die A simple, free browser plugin killed Joystiq – and is ruining the Internet. Read More if you can!), right? Reddit fans can’t live without Reddit Enhancement Suite How To Use Reddit Like an Old Pro How To Use Reddit Like an Old Pro There are plenty of online communities which can be found on the Internet - Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube are easily the most popular and recognizable ones. However, there are plenty of other gems online... Read More . And that’s not to mention all of the security and privacy plugins Use These 6 Extensions To Improve Privacy & Security On Firefox Use These 6 Extensions To Improve Privacy & Security On Firefox You are being watched on the Internet – but if you use Mozilla Firefox, some of its great add-ons can help protect your privacy and security on the Web. Read More that are available.

My advice? Uninstall everything, figure out what you absolutely cannot live without, and keep it at that. Then again, if your computer is top-notch and can handle it, feel free to install whatever pleases your fancy.

What other mistakes do people make while browsing the web? Share your wisdom with us so that we might all benefit from a better web experience! The comments are right below.

Image Credits: Browser window Via Shutterstock, Web URL Via Shutterstock, Login Form Via Shutterstock, Man Shrugging Via Shutterstock

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