Surprising Tools That Slow Down Browsing

Becky Worley
Special Contributor, Yahoo! Tech
Upgrade Your Life

When you first got your computer, you practically flew around the Internet. But if loading websites now takes forever, some simple housekeeping can help you speed up your browsing. So let's roll up our sleeves and get going.

First, think of your browser as a bike; the more baggage you load onto it, the slower you go, so start streamlining.

Browser History
You can delete a lot of baggage if you clear your browsing history. All browsers store data from the sites you've been to. It's great if you want to remember where you've been recently on the web, but it can also slow the browser. Getting rid of that data can speed up how fast pages load.

  • In Internet Explorer, hit Tools, Internet Options, general tab, and then, under Browsing history, click Delete.
  • In Firefox, choose Tools, Clear Recent History.
  • In Chrome, hit the wrench icon in the toolbar, choose History and Clear All History.

Toolbars are notorious resource hogs. If you aren't using a toolbar multiple times each day, ditch it. In Firefox, go to Tools, Add-ons, and Disable Toolbars. Chrome doesn't have toolbars per se.

Add-ons and Extensions
These are like toolbars but may be running in the background, meaning they are less visible. It's a good idea to check to see you are really using these tools enough to merit their resource consumption.

  • In Internet Explorer, go to tools Internet Options, Programs tab, and Manage Add-ons. You'll see all the add-ons that are enabled. I say disable everything but the Shockwave Flash add-on.
  • In Firefox, hit Tools, and uninstall everything you can.
  • In Chrome, go to Tools, Extensions and disable everything you can

Bookmarks and Favorites
Another drag on your browser comes from bookmarks. You thought you were being so organized with a few hundred bookmarks neatly filed by topic. But they can make your browser slower too. Limit them to 20 or so, and keep the rest in a Word document on your desktop.

To Export Bookmarks
In Internet Explorer go to File, Import/Export and choose Export To A File, then choose Favorites. Open the HTML file it saves, copy everything and paste into a Word document. In Firefox you can open Bookmarks and copy the ones you want, then paste into a Word doc. In Chrome, go to bookmarks, Bookmark Manager, and Export. Open the HTML document it saves, copy all, and paste into a Word doc.

Defragging your hard-drive is a well-known tool for speeding up all aspects of computing — even web browsing. Hit Start, type "defrag" n the search bar and open Disk Defragmenter.

Change Browsers
Tom's Hardware is a tech site that tests the speed of browsers each year. Their most recent comparison shows Firefox is fastest, then the Chrome browser, Internet Explorer second to last, and then Apple's Safari is slowest.

Even just getting a clean browser — one you haven't fiddled with — can be faster than your previous browser.