What affects browsing speed? You might as well be asking What is the meaning of life? Browsing speed is affected by a lot of variables. Your Internet speeds can be affected by settings within Windows, settings within your browser, or the condition of your home network. These tips can be applied to most browsers and home networks to help improve Internet speeds and get rid of some some of the annoyances you experience while surfing the Web.
Simple Web Browser Tweaks
The first web browser tweak we recommend is downloading a second browser. PCs will usually already have IE installed (unless you specified otherwise) and Macs will have Safari pre-installed. Other popular browsers include Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Even if you do not plan on using them, it’s always a good idea to have a second browser on your system in case malware or a corrupt file renders your primary browser useless. Use these tips to tweak web browsers to make them faster.
Get Control Of Your Toolbars – Toolbars can either help or hinder you. Unless you specifically want to use a toolbar to enhance your Internet experience, it is recommended that you remove them. Even if they do not dramatically slow your browsing down, they can be used to track your behavior online or take up valuable screen real estate. Some systems can have multiple toolbars installed, pushing the content to the lower half of the browser window. Freeware programs will often put a toolbar on your browser during the install process, so keep an eye out for the option to uncheck that option when installing or updating third-party apps.
- Remove Toolbars in Internet Explorer – Go to Tools, and then click the Manage Add-ons link. Under Add-on types, click Toolbars and Extensions. Select the Toolbar you want to remove and then click disable. Or go to the Control Panel and click on Internet Options and select the Programs tab. You can then click on Manage Add-ons from there.
- Remove Toolbars in Firefox – Click View from the top menu and under the Toolbars section, uncheck the toolbars you no longer want to use.
- Remove Toolbars in Chrome – Click the wrench icon in the upper right corner and then select Tools. Click Extensions. Disable any toolbars from the list you do not want to use.
Prune Your Favorites – Some people are fastidious with their Favorites (bookmarks). They have a highly-organized folder and sub-folder system, separated into logical categories. But if you’re a bookmarks hoarder, you should occasionally go in and remove or organize your obsolete bookmarks.
- Manage IE Favorites in Internet Explorer 9 – Click the Star in the upper right corner. In the Add to Favorites drop-down, select Organize Favorites.
- Manage Firefox Bookmarks -Click the Bookmarks tab, and then click Manage Bookmarks.
- Manage Chrome Bookmarks -Click the wrench in the upper right corner and select Bookmarks. Click Bookmarks manager.
Reduce The Size Of The Cache – Your browser has a cache that stores websites and web page elements to help speed up load times if you revisit a site. This is great, but make sure the size of the cache is not so large that it bogs down your system.
- Reduce Cache Size in Internet Explorer – Click the gear in the upper right corner and then select Internet Options. Under the General tab and in the Browsing History section, click Settings. You should see “Disk space to use” and a size recommendation. Choose the lower end number.
- Reduce Cache Size in Firefox – Click Tools>Options>Advanced. Under the Network tab, you’ll see a Cached web content section with the option to override the default value. Set this to a lower number.
Disable Unnecessary Add-ons – Add-ons are plug-ins that can be installed to enhance your web browsing. These are often supplied by third-party developers and can become out-dated or so buggy they slow everything down. As with toolbars, if you do not specifically want an add-on, you should disable it.
- Disable Add-ons in Internet Explorer – Click the gear in the upper right corner, click Internet Options, and then select the Programs tab. Click the Manage Add-ons button.
- Disable Add-ons in Firefox – Click Tools from the top menu, and then click the Add-ons link.
- Disable Add-ons in Chrome – Click on the wrench in the upper right corner, and then click Tools. Next, click the Extensions. Or you can type this in the Chrome address bar: chrome://settings/extensions.
Home Networking Speed Tweaks
Even if you have a blazing fast broadband connection, there are factors with your home network that can affect your browsing speed. Consider these options for tweaking your home network to improve browsing speed:
- Stop Torrents and Other File Sharing – Torrents and other file sharing services are a constant drain on both your upload and download speeds and can cripple a home network. Check all computers in the house and remove these types of programs.
- Streaming Music and Movies – Streaming movies and music with services like Netflix, Hulu and Pandora are great, but running them on computers and televisions in your home affects the speed of your network. When not in use, make sure these are off.
- Change DNS settings – We recommend you change your default DNS settings in your router to improve access time to websites. Read our guide on how to change your DNS here.
- Wired or Wireless – It’s always best to plug your computer into the router when possible. If you decide to go wireless, update your WiFi adapter and router to newer wireless N models for greater distances and speed.
Browsing Speed Concluded
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when tying to improve your browsing speed. Keeping tight control of your browser settings and making sure your home network is not wasting valuable bandwidth are only a couple of ways to increase Internet speed. If you have suggestions of your own, please let us know.