Has this ever happened to you? You have a fast Internet connection, your router is set up properly, and everything seems like it should be in order … but whenever you try to load a webpage, your computer seems to drag.
Slow browsing isn’t always caused by your Internet connection. Any number of things about your computer itself can contribute to it. If your computer is really lagging, you may want to hire an expert to clean it up, but here are five easy things you can check yourself.
Do you have too many tabs open? All modern browsers let you keep multiple windows open at a time, and multiple tabs inside every window. It can be a very handy way to work on several things at once without losing your place. But every tab you open requires memory, and if you have dozens of tabs open that you’re not using, it can slow your browser to a crawl. Keep an eye on how many browser tabs you have open, and close the ones you don’t need anymore.
Does your browser have too many extra toolbars and plugins? The top of your browser window should look pretty simple: the basic buttons (back, forward, reload, home, and maybe a few others) plus a spot to enter Web addresses and maybe a search box. But if you have a host of extra toolbars at the top of the window, you may be running some unwanted programs that can both slow down your browser and potentially invade your privacy. Free software downloads are a frequent culprit: often offering free downloads is a backdoor way for somebody to install add-ons to your browser. They may do something relatively innocuous, like sending you advertisements, or they can be more malicious. You may be able to disable unneeded toolbars yourself (look for “Settings” or “Preferences” in your browser menus), or you may want to have an expert do it for you.
Do you have too many applications open? Multitasking can be a great thing, but if you’re running a Web browser and a video player and iTunes and Microsoft Office, it may be too much for your computer to handle. Try closing applications you aren’t using and stick to just the ones you need to have open right now.
Do you have lots of unneeded system files? Here’s one simple way to free up disk space on a Windows computer. From your desktop, double-click on “My Computer.” Then right-click on your hard drive, which is usually just called “C:”. In the menu that opens, click on “Preferences.” You should see a pie chart that shows how much space you’re using and how much is available, with a “Disk Cleanup” button next to it. Windows will automatically search for and delete unneeded items, such as temporary files created by the system or copies of Web pages that your browser may store offline for faster loading. (Caution: Unless you really know what you’re doing, don’t delete any system files manually — it’s too easy to accidentally delete something your computer needs to function.)
Are your own files disorganized? Even something like having too many files on your desktop or in your Downloads folder can negatively affect your performance. If your desktop is full of icons, try organizing them into folders, and if your Downloads folder has hundreds or even thousands of items in it, go through the folder to figure out what you still need and delete everything else.