One of the worst things you can have is a slow, sluggish browser. OK – maybe there are worse situations in life than a slow browser. But for a first-world problem, it's one of the most annoying, especially in this information age when there is so much online to read, watch, and listen to.
Updating the Browser
Improving browser speed is like cleaning a house, and the very first thing to do is to be sure that everything is in its place. Just as it wouldn't make sense to clean the bathroom floor when there’s a broken pipe spewing water, it doesn't make sense to try to improve the browser's speed without first updating it. Browser updates fix bugs and issues that will (hopefully) increase the browser’s speed right away. In other words, it's like calling the plumber to fix the plumbing issues of mopping the bathroom floor.
Modern browsers usually update automatically. However, there are times when the software faces technical problems that prevent it from doing so. Therefore, it's always a good start to go into the browser’s settings and make sure everything is up to date. If not, force the browser to update to its most recent version before you start the actual ‘cleaning'.
Delete Unwanted, Unused Extensions
After taking care of any plumbing issues, there’s one more thing to do before cleaning up: throw away (or donate) everything that is no longer needed. In any situation, more stuff means more cleaning, and having more browser extensions means having less browser speed.
There are many ways to end up with a browser full of unused extensions. They may have crept in while a piece of software was being installed, or were intentionally added for some temporary, long-forgotten purpose. Whatever the case, before getting down to the actual ‘cleaning', it's crucial to take some time to uninstall any extensions that haven’t been used in the past few months.
Clean Your Cache, History, and Cookies
Now it's time to roll up those sleeves. Except when using incognito mode, browsing through the internet causes the browser to store bits of information here and there. It will save the history of visited websites and files known as cache, and sites themselves will store cookies on the machine to improve the user experience (among other things).
All of this information can be seen as useful ‘dust'. History is nice to have when revisiting a recently-liked website whose link has been forgotten, while the cache speeds up sites when visiting them for the second time. However, the more ‘dust' is added, the slower the browser becomes.
Each time a website is visited, a little bit of this dust is created – which is fine for a couple of weeks. However, let it settle for a year, and it becomes a major problem. Therefore it's essential to clean cache, history, and cookies data every once in a while. A Google search will quickly lead to the appropriate cleanup steps for whichever browser you’re using.
Now that everything is clean, it's important not to make a mess right away. In a house, this might mean leaving everything in its place. In a browser, it's all about managing tabs.
While doing deep dives, it's easy to fall into the rabbit hole of having dozens of tabs open and slowing down the browser, since each one of the tabs is running in the background. Of course, the simplest solution is to have fewer tabs open, but there are times when those 30 tabs are somehow indispensable. If that's the case, there are a few ways to improve browser speed, such as having the tabs spread between two different browsers or installing third-party extensions that suspend inactive tabs without closing them.
Uninstall and Reinstall the Browser
Maybe this tip is not going to work quite as well with our house analogy, but sometimes the best thing to do is to start fresh. Reinstalling the software guarantees it’s completely clean and as fast as it was initially, though it's critical to make sure a complete uninstall is done and no related files are left on the system.
Sometimes there isn’t enough time or headspace to clean the house, and that's why housekeepers exist. The same happens with browsers, and that’s why there’s useful software that makes sure the browser's speed doesn’t drop. For example, there are register cleaners, or for macOS users, Mac optimization software that will handle the cleanup. Additionally, it's important to have both desktop and mobile antivirus software to make sure it's not malware that’s slowing down the browser.
Best Secure Browsers of 2020
Get the Best Software and Tech Deals
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to get the best deals, free trials and discounts on software and tech.