Speed Up Your Computer
Very often, web pages load slowly simply because your computer is slow. Obviously, the easiest thing to do is to get a faster computer or at least add more memory. But there are lots of things you can do with the hardware you’ve got. This gets quite a bit outside the scope of this article, but consider some of the following:
- Close programs you aren’t using.
- Turn off background processes like update checkers.
- Get rid of special effects like animation and see-through windows.
- Increase your virtual memory.
- Free up hard disk space and uninstall unwanted programs.
- Defragment your hard drive.
- Scan for viruses.
Speed Up Your Browser
When it comes to how fast any particular browser works, here’s a little secret: there isn’t a lot of difference. You will see tests of browsers where Chrome or Firefox or Edge or Safari comes out on top. It’s probably true. All of the companies are constantly working to improve these browsers. Right now Edge looks very good, but it probably won’t stay that way for long.
A much bigger deal is the use of plugins and toolbars and various other add-ons that bog down web browsing. “But they are so easy to add!” you say. “And any one of them doesn’t use that many resources!” And before you know it, you have 50 add-ons running, and can’t even name five of them. Do you really need the Video Download Helper? Maybe you do! But think before you install, and occasionally look at what you have installed and consider removing some of them.
Optimize Your Browser Cache
When you load a webpage, your browser normally saves a copy of the files onto your hard drive, so when you visit the site again, your browser will only have to download the files that have changed. This speeds up your overall web browsing experience. In general, it is helpful to have a large cache — especially if you spend a lot of time browsing a number of different sites. So think about expanding the size of your cache.
But there is a hitch. If your cache gets too large, your computer can waste a lot of time searching through it for files it could have just downloaded faster. That’s especially true if you have a fast internet connect but a relatively slow computer. In that case, you might want to greatly limit the size of your cache.
Use Ad Blocking Software
These days, a large percentage of websites depend upon advertising to continue operating. Just the same, many sites have gotten out of hand with multiple high bandwidth ads on each page. Depending upon the kinds of sites that you visit, you may greatly increase your browsing speed by installing an ad blocker. They are available for almost all browsers and some even block ads on videos.
Use Your Browser More Effectively
Better web browsing isn’t just a matter of how fast pages load. It is also a matter of how easily you can get to the information that you want. Consider some of these ideas:
- Bookmarks: These allow you to quickly find information that you have come upon before. Also, use the bookmark bar that is available in all browsers, where you can put links to the sites you visit most often.
- Homepage: Like the bookmark bar, your homepage can provide you with quick access into the web. A lot of people use sites like Yahoo! which provide both news and entertainment, along with search tools. You might prefer the simplicity of Google. Or maybe you would like something in between like hCHOO or Best Homepage Ever. There are lots of options.
- Search Engine: Most browsers now allow you to search directly from the address bar. And by default they come with a search engine provider that is to their liking — not necessarily yours. For example, Edge defaults to Bing, and Chrome defaults to Google. You should change this setting to the search engine that you prefer.
- Stop Button: Often, most of a page will load but there will be some parts of it (like ads) that are taking forever. In these cases, the stop button can be really helpful. If you find that you need parts of the page that didn’t load, you can always reload the page and wait it out.
- Tabbed Browsing: Rather than being limited to browsing a single site at a time or having to open up multiple windows, tabs allow you to have many webpages open at the same time in the same window. But be careful! If you have too many open, it can slow performance.
Speed Up Your Connection
After doing everything else, you may still find that your web surfing is slow. In that case, it is time to consider your internet connection. Not all internet service providers (ISPs) are the same. And you can get different speeds from the same provider. But there are still millions of people who use dial-up services for their internet. If all you use the internet for is to check e-mail, that may be fine. But if you really want to use the internet to its full potential, you need a broadband connection.
There are an endless number of ways to improve your web browsing because it is largely a personal thing. Sometimes it is worth slightly slower page loads when it is offset by a feature that allows you to work the way you want to. You’ve received a good overview here of the main things you can do to make web browsing faster and more enjoyable. But the perfect browsing experience is an elusive target that you may work on your whole life. Don’t be afraid to experiment — it’s part of the fun of the internet!