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Online browsing speeds deteriorating over time

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 10, 2012 6:17 AM PST

Online browsing speeds deteriorating over time; what could it be?

Over the last year or so, my computer has gotten slower and slower
when browsing the Web. I feel like getting a page to load takes four
times as long as it did just two years ago. I have plenty of free hard
drive space and 3GB of RAM. I'm running Windows XP and my machine is
about 5 years old. My antivirus and antispyware are all up-to-date.
For browsing, I use Internet Explorer 8 most of the time. My friend
recommended Firefox; I gave that a try, but I found it was even
slower. What could have changed? Are Web pages these days getting
heavier? Do I need to clean out my hard drive or something else? Maybe
it's my broadband speed--is there a way to test that? What could it
possibly be, as I'm out of ideas? Please help, it's getting to the
point where going online is not so enjoyable anymore!

- Submitted by Bill D.
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Same issue with laptop...
by Chinookman / February 10, 2012 9:01 AM PST

come to learn that I had not dona any maintenance on it. I used CC Cleaner and deleted about 500meg of history and cookies yes that is a lot!....

Now no issues and FF is just as fast as always.... use your favorite tool and try it.....

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good maintenance tools....
by cesareDH / February 17, 2012 7:05 PM PST

CCCleaner and HiJack This. Run at least once a month.

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to Lee Koo... Online browsing speeds deteriorating over time
by dak-d / February 10, 2012 9:06 AM PST

Using a Mac OS-X, so what little I know of PC's..
Look up or in your 'find' tab... 'defrag' term and location where you can self clean old/bad files.

may help. again mac user now, pc user 5-10 years ago.


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by Xepman / February 10, 2012 12:29 PM PST

Yeah, Apple is much better... No worries

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Slowing down internet speed
by shafiqkhan31 / February 20, 2012 5:58 PM PST
In reply to: Apple

It is strange to note the vehemence and stridency shown by some of the members while addressing the question of Mac vs. PC. It is a kind of tribalism which contributes nothing to the debate.
I use both Macbook and a PC for going on the Internet. As it happens I have faced issues with both for various reasons and found the Cnet experts come to help with praiseworthy generosity of spirit and knowledge. However there are limits.
My machines are around six years old and occasionally have the issue of slow internet speed.
I do the discerning clean ups and often found the main cause, was the things beyond my control i.e. what happens at the local centre from where the Internet supplier supplies the service.
Very occasionally there is a glitch with the supply side and at times it is just the traffic which clogs up the small rural systems.
The advice I think is to be patient and perhaps switch off, off for a time and things get better after a while. Obviously my experience is of rural areas ( in UK) where the substation for supply is at the limits of its reach. More importantly the nature of the use of the Internet. I do not run a business and an hour or so of switching off is of little or no consequence.
If I were so concerned and had my business, I would run my business from a place where the supply was up to the standard required. I know there are issues which concern your hardware, but not as many as you may may think.
My experience is mainly leisure, pleasure and social interaction and short period switching off does not make any difference and perhaps frees the line for those who can not hang about.

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Online Browsing Speed deteriorating...
by betles / February 10, 2012 9:12 AM PST

I gave up on I.Explorer couple of years so slow loading, I
began to get bored with computing. Ridiculously slow.

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Interner explorer is the only one secure
by web ace / February 17, 2012 1:18 PM PST

<span id="INSERTION_MARKER"><span id="INSERTION_MARKER">google chrome has massive security leaks , IE is the only choice ,
search google , how ironic

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by BayushiZero / February 17, 2012 2:20 PM PST

Please do not propagate misinformation like this.

Internet Explorer has long been known to be the king of security leaks, largely as it is still the most commonly used browser.

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IE is more secure than google chrome
by Visgor / February 18, 2012 1:07 AM PST
In reply to: Misinformation

Based on the personal experience and experience of the companies I'm servicing (I'm in IT), IE is way more secure and less expose to the trojans than FF or Chrome.

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by BayushiZero / February 18, 2012 1:39 PM PST

Hate to break it to you, but it sounds like your people are experiencing the ravages of the notorious PEBKAC virus.

Might want to get that looked into.

I can't speak much for Chrome, but Firefox is HARDLY less secure than Internet Exploder.

Maybe you as an IT type should suggest the use of browser addons in Firefox like Adblock Plus and NoScript? Those two added onto intelligent use of the browser and a good AV package should keep your systems secure.

As for IT, I myself am a retired IT type, former CCNA. I'm not exactly a dullard here.

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Deteriorating speeds are common - lots of causes
by aag53 / February 10, 2012 9:24 AM PST

Many things accumulate in a system over time and some of them slow things down.
To check the actual speed of your connection try:
The middle of the page has a "Begin Test" button, there are also ADs for various "Free" system checks but these will all find problems and allow you to purchase their product to fix them. I cannot vouch for any of those as I use a manual clean up myself.
Most versions of Windows and the associated applications, do not properly manage memory and most have leaks which disable sections of memory as they run and that "feature" gradually slows down all processes. Reboot at least once a day to avoid this becoming a real problem. Disk files become fragmented which also slows the access time, so de-fragmenting is often helpful. Temporary files also slow down access as there are more headers to check when searching for the needed file, so removing unneeded temporary files is helpful.
Browsers have changed and now open multiple pages with tabs and so one is encouraged to have many internet windows open, this also slows things down as the browser is now managing a large amount of data. Looking at the Task Manager will show the amount of memory being used by each instance of the browser, things work much faster when this is as low as possible (only a single browser with one tab open).
There are lots of other things which slow systems down, I find I need to completely renew my system every 6 months or so to avoid the slow running. When I first installed each version of Windows and the associated applications I created an image copy which can be used to restore back to that point on that computer. When things start running slowly I copy any data that I may need to temporary storage, reformat the system drive and restore my original image, before copying back the data. This invariably makes things much faster almost like a new system.
Hope some of my thoughts prove helpful.

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Deteriorating speeds are common - lots of causes
by gabar / February 17, 2012 10:45 AM PST

Your response would be SOOOO helpful if you explained step by step how to do the things you mentioned, please.

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A Terrific Tutorial About Slow Browsers
by High Desert Charlie / February 10, 2012 10:02 AM PST

I would really like to spend an hour or so writing about all of the possibilities that may slow down your internet browser, but I'm going to provide you a link to a really terrific tutorial about Browsers and Internet speed. If you read it thoroughly, I think you'll find all of the information you need.

Cleaning out your Temporary Internet files using Disk Cleanup should help a lot. Also make sure you look at your Task Manager to see if there are any Processes that are eating up all of your CPU/RAM resources.

At the end of the day, if things still seem too slow, sometimes the best thing is just to back up your data and reload Windows for a fresh start.

Here's the link:

Hope this helps.

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A Terrific Tutorial About Slow Browsers
by gabar / February 17, 2012 11:25 AM PST
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File not found 404
by tfarney / August 18, 2012 3:03 AM PDT

Is there a newer address?

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Just backspace...
by JCitizen / August 18, 2012 7:30 AM PDT
In reply to: File not found 404

the ".....BEST" out of the URL, and it will work. The link slopped over, that's all.

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link to a really terrific tutorial about Browsers ...etc etc
by condobloke / February 17, 2012 2:39 PM PST

Damn fine article that one Charlie, and the other topics covered on the site are a really good read too !
The author actually talks common sense....a rare commodity in the rarefied atmosphere of PC speak.
Thank you,

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Great piece, and the info at the site is an education.
by rzk357 / February 18, 2012 2:02 PM PST

Thanks for the site address. You do a very good job in explaining the way browsers can be affected, and ergo, speed can be affected as well. A veritable "mini-course" in setting up browsers and firewalls, anti-virus programs and the like.

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Good one; and..
by JCitizen / February 20, 2012 6:49 AM PST

If you use the right anti-virus/malware you won't be impacted by performance problems; even if you use more than one anti-malware.

Many of my first time clients are discovered to be using more than one firewall or anti-virus; this is not only a big performance impactor, but a peril to the operating system!

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Slow speed with IE8 etc
by pauly1651 / February 10, 2012 10:08 AM PST

Internet Explorer has become a bloated, slow monster, I know because I still use it.
I have tried Firefox, didn't like it any better, and also tried that Chrome thing by Google it was a little faster but I hate the layout of whole the darn thing.
Internet Explorer can be sped up a little by turning off all the add ons etc. Or you could try to go way back to IE7 if you have an older XP machine. IE7 was/is much faster than IE8-9.
Some folks swear by Firefox and Google's a toss up I guess?

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Slow browsing
by mal_aus / February 10, 2012 10:15 AM PST

Insufficient information - eg. what maintenance do you do regularly.
When did you last do a full anti-virus check?
When did you last do a disk clean?
When did you last do a run with Ccleaner?
Have you changed providers lately (can have leftover problems with routing, proxies, etc)
When did you last do a defrag?
Is your browser set to delete cookies when closing?
What Firewall are you using, check settings (You may be running 2 firewalls if IE's is running).
Are you on a network?
Is other software running auto updates?

Do all of the above that you can and come back with comment on any improvement.

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Driving slow in the fast lane, on the info super highway
by flrhcarr / February 10, 2012 10:31 AM PST

First thing I'll say, is that your computer is getting too old. The hardware is is outdated as is most of the software. Sucks, but that's the way it is. I get balks, & slow downs sometimes too.

There are many reasons you're going slow.

Too many applications open (CTRL+ALT+DEL only once).

Too much software updating. I can't tell you how many times I see this on people's computers. Everything is set to update automatically, so it clogs your use. Turn that crap off. Even the one from CNET to update the software you downloaded.

Your browser version is too old.

Your modem & connection is old.

Back to number one, everyone is forced to update, buy new & upgrade. I don't like it either, but this is how the system works. Speed costs. Even gutting your computer, you'll have to get new connections for your USB ports, your power supply & things like that. The only thing would be your headphone & speaker outputs will still work :}). But your sound card may not.

Another note. Your anti-virus software. It could be one of the biggest culprits, as could be other versions (and freebies) that you have installed. If after reformatting, you get the same problems, than buy a new system. Chances are, after formatting, you'll find your machine is fine (birds singing, clouds rolling).

Nearly everyone here re-formats their drives at least every 6-9 months. Me, I have a back up copy of the drive (I only us Western Digital) & use the WD software to copy over the blanked drive. It's like having a new computer again. Check here for the tips & tricks for XP & get your system running fine once again.

I hope this helps you.

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firhcarr is going a little overboard.
by mal_aus / February 12, 2012 5:39 AM PST

A reformat is the last thing to ever do. The majority of PC users would never reformat in the lifetime of their PC. I run a 5 year old PC with XP and browsing times are excellent (boot up may be slow as I run lots of software). I also run a 1 year old laptop with XP and that also has excellent browser speeds. I have IE8, Chrome and FireFox on both and there is very little difference between them (I prefer FF to the others)
Do your full maintenance, update all your software, get rid of anything you don't use and see how that goes.

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clean installs are pretty much a necessity with XP
by dg27 / February 17, 2012 9:57 AM PST

I beg to differ. Till a year ago I was running XP on two very well-maintained desktops. Always updated AV, ran CCleaner nightly, auto defrag with Diskeeper. But invariably every 6-9 months I would do a clean install. Luckily, that went away when I went to Win7.

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Haven't reinstalled XP in 7 years
by janitorman / February 17, 2012 6:44 PM PST

Haven't reinstalled XP in 7-9 years on three different computers. NO PROBLEMS. Turned off automatic updates years ago and only download the vital ones MANUALLY (but I know what I'm doing.)
Windows 7, on two different units, bluescreens occurred repeatedly. Had to reinstall within weeks on both, and with all the updates, the damn thing is just unreliable.
I update/reinstall my Linux partitions regularly, not because they don't run, but because of the regular innovations that occur (and it doesn't cost a dime to upgrade to a new version, so it's worth it.)
This proves, "your mileage may vary."

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Re: Online browsing speeds deteriorating over time
by tokyo_gaijin / February 10, 2012 10:49 AM PST

I've had the same problem and have tried a number of browsers on various computers, both desktops and laptops, and from Win2K through Win 7. I now use Win 7 on most of my computers, but use XP on a Toshiba UMPC, as I use a wireless mobile modem to connect to the internet for e-mail on that computer. It has WiFi, but it's not always easy to find a hotspot or freespot for WiFi, and it's not secure. So I use the mobile modem a lot when I can't get to a secure line. The browser can really slow it up which made me look for a faster browser. Firefox was good, and Google Chrome was just a bit faster, but I kept coming up with unwanted cookies and junk using Chrome. Firefox was a bit better in respect to that. I found and am now using Comodo Dragon, and it's faster than Firefox. It's got a simpler layout without all the junk added which cuts down screen size. I sometimes check if Internet Explorer is any better or faster when I use my computers at home. I have a fiber optic line, but Firefox is faster, and Komodo is just a bit faster. And Comodo also gives you the option of using a secure DNS Server which on cable is fine.

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Online browsing speeds deteriorating over time
by manahatta / February 10, 2012 11:32 AM PST

As you mentioned, you are running Windows XP with 3GB of RAM. If you recently expanded you memory, I recommend to check with the software tool CPU-Z, under Memory, the frequency of current timing of you 3GB RAM. The capability of each bank of RAM is show in the SPD Timings Table of CPU-Z. The capability of you hard ware you can check in the user guide of motherboard or simply run CPU-Z with one memory bank. If the memory banks are different, use the memory bank with the highest frequency specification. The frequency specification is shown in the SPD Timing table for each selected slot (use Memory Slot Selection). If the frequency increase with one memory bank monitored with CPU-Z under Memory, Timings, Frequency, it is time to check the recommended memory configurations in the user guide of motherboard.

Personally I could not find the appropriate memory banks to expand the RAM of my seven and a half years old PC.
In my case LESS MEMORY (1GB) IS MORE SPEED for online browsing. Wink

Best regards, manahatta

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by Flatworm / February 11, 2012 12:44 AM PST

Because the system originally ran well and these aspects are highly unlikely to have changed over the years, this seems a highly unlikely source of the slowdown.

Less memory is not more speed, for browsing or anything else, unless a RAM chip has become corrupted.

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Expanding might help but
by kcwilsonii / February 17, 2012 10:27 AM PST

he would have to be running XP x64 bit

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No such thing
by dsttexas / February 18, 2012 4:38 AM PST

There is no such thing as XP in 64bit. It's a 32 bit all the way.

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