Avast Academy Performance Speed Why Is My Browser So Slow? How to Speed Up Chrome, Firefox, and IE

Why Is My Browser So Slow? How to Speed Up Chrome, Firefox, and IE

Ever lose focus on something important because your browser suddenly stopped working? You can prevent this from happening with a number of useful tips for speeding up a slow browser. Or, switch to a new browser that gives you both speed and security right from the start.

Written by Anthony Freda
Published on June 24, 2023

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    The methods for getting a faster browser apply everywhere. Look up tips on how to speed up Chrome, and they’ll usually work for a lazy Firefox as well.

    Why is your browser’s speed so sluggish? Here are the most likely reasons why Google Chrome is running slow:

    • Lots of tabs open, or multiple active browser sessions.

    • A cache of temporary internet files that hasn’t been cleared in a long time.

    • Harmful cookies causing problems with your browser.

    • Certain add-ons or extensions.

    • Outdated apps.

    • A virus or malware.

    • A weak internet signal.

    Some of these are easy to fix: just close any tabs you don’t need anymore and install an antivirus! Keep reading to learn how to address the other browser issues — let’s get your browser speed back up.

    How to speed up Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer

    Speeding up your browser doesn’t mean buying a new computer. A computer’s performance will decline over time, but following tips like the ones below can significantly prolong your computer’s lifespan.

    These tips can also improve your browsing experience. You’ll be working with a faster PC in no time. A Mac can always go faster as well, so follow this advice if you’re using a Mac.

    Here’s how to speed up Chrome and other browsers:

    Check the speed of your internet

    First, check to see if it’s only your internet that’s slow. Whatever result you find will help you focus your efforts and fix your problem more effectively. 

    Try speeding up your internet connection and see if that fixes the problem. Your phone’s internet speed can be improved as well.

    Update your browser

    Developers update their software to patch up security holes and correct problems that make programs go slow. Your browser performs best when it’s updated to the latest version.

    Here’s how to update each of the most popular browsers:

    How to update Chrome

    You can update Google Chrome by doing the following:

    1. Click the three dots in the upper right.

      A Google Chrome window with the three dots circled in the upper right.
    2. Click Help.

       A Google Chrome window with the three dots menu open, with Help circled.
    3. Click About Google Chrome.

      The Help menu open within Google Chrome's three dot menu, with About Google Chrome circled
    4. The menu that this button leads you to will either invite you to update Google Chrome, or it will notify you that Chrome is up-to-date.

      The About Google Chrome setting displayed, showing that Google Chrome is up to date.

    How to update Firefox

    Updating Firefox is easy. Here’s how:

    1. Find the hamburger menu in the upper right.

       A screenshot of Firefox with the hamburger menu in the upper right circled.
    2. Click Help.

      A screenshot of the hamburger menu being clicked, with "Help" circled.
    3. Click About Firefox.

      The help menu from within the hamburger menu, with About Firefox circled.
    4. If Firefox is up-to-date, the window will say so. If not, there will be an option to update immediately. Click it.

      The About Firefox window displayed. It indicates that Firefox is up-to-date, so there is no Update button shown.

    How to update Microsoft Edge

    Updating Microsoft Edge is as easy as updating any other browser.

    1. Click the Menu button in the upper-right.

      A screenshot of Microsoft Edge's home screen with the Menu button circled.
    2. Hold your mouse over Help and feedback without clicking.

      A screenshot of Microsoft Edge with the main menu open, and Help and Feedback is circled.
    3. Click About Microsoft Edge.

      A screenshot of the Help and Feedback submenu open, with About Microsoft Edge circled.
    4. Edge will check for updates and tell you how to apply them if there are any.

      A screenshot of Microsoft Edge's updates menu, which shows that Microsoft Edge is up to date.

    How to update Internet Explorer

    If you haven’t upgraded to Edge yet, Internet Explorer updates happen automatically in Windows Updates. The latest version, if there is one, will always be found in an update for the operating system.

    1. Click the Start Menu.

      The Start menu open in Windows, with the settings button circled.
    2. Click the Settings icon.

      A screenshot of Windows Settings with Update & Security circled.
    3. Go to Update & Security.

      The Windows Update screen in Windows Settings, with Check for Updates circled.
    4. Click Check for updates.

    Internet Explorer is an outdated browser, so it may contain security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to steal your data or install malware on your device. We strongly recommend you switch to a current browser instead of IE.

    Whichever browser you use, an updated browser should make your surfing experience faster.

    Remove unnecessary extensions and plugins

    In the past, I’ve had to remove Firefox extensions because they slowed down Gmail to the point of unusability. In fact, all extensions slow down your browser by default. Some of them are just better built than others, and you don’t notice.

    The best practice is to vet your browser extensions before installing them. Here’s how you can remove a browser extension:

    1. No matter what browser you’re using, you can click the Settings menu in the upper right, depicted as three lines (hamburger menu), three dots, or a gear.

      A Google Chrome window with the three dots circled in the upper right.
    2. Find the option that mentions Extensions and/or Add-ons. (In Google Chrome, click Settings first, and it will be on the left.

      Opening up Extensions in Google Chrome or Add-ons in Firefox.Look for Extensions in Google Chrome or Add-ons in Firefox.

    3. You’ll be led to a page with a description of all add-ons, and there should be an Uninstall button next to each one.

      The extensions menu in Google Chrome. Next to each extension, there is a button that says "Remove."

    You shouldn’t see any extensions that you didn’t add yourself. If you don’t remember adding it, it could be malware. Weed out anything that seems unfamiliar or suspicious, or that you simply don’t need anymore. And if you think you have a malware infection, use a dedicated malware removal tool to get rid of it.

    Whether you’re removing extensions from Edge , or removing extensions from Google Chrome, this should help speed things up.

    Clear your browser cookies and cache

    Cookies are bits of data that help websites remember information about you — such as your login credentials. You’ll need to log back into everything if you delete all your cookies, so make sure you either know your passwords or store them securely with a password manager.

    The cache contains elements of recently visited websites so you don’t have to waste bandwidth reloading them. Cookies and cache make up your temporary internet files, which slow down your computer in two ways. 

    1. There might be a malware infection in your cache. Since web pages are stored here for faster reloading later, and malware can show up on web pages, you might have a virus deliberately causing mayhem to your system. Delete your cookies and cache to avoid this. 

    2. Temporary internet files might be building up and taking up space on your system. A hard drive tends to run fine when it has at least 15% of its total space available; otherwise, it can’t work as well. Whether you’re clearing cache on a Mac or a PC, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to get rid of temp files.

    Clearing internet history will also give you peace of mind when it comes to privacy. There’s a lot of maintenance that goes into using a computer. Basic upkeep can reduce the chances of losing precious work, but this can easily take hours.

    Get an all-in-one program that does it all automatically. Avast Cleanup will regularly clear out temporary internet files, while also keeping your apps updated along with so much else. Enjoy a faster computer with more storage space for your most important files and apps.

    Close unused tabs

    Open tabs use up a lot of memory, and it’s all too easy to keep tons of tabs open. YouTube videos will stutter, your browser will lock up, and other programs won’t be able to run.

    Reduce the number of tabs you have open with the following bookmarking tips for Chrome (you can use similar methods on other browsers):

    • Bookmark multiple tabs. To save tabs for later, right-click in the open (grey) space next to your right-most tab and select Bookmark all tabs. You can also press Ctrl + Shift + D (Windows) or Cmd + Shift + D (Mac) to bookmark all your open tabs.

    • Close multiple tabs. If it’s too much to close every single tab, try a method that closes only some of your tabs. Move the tabs you want to close to the right, then right-click the first tab in the line that you want to close and select Close tabs to the right. To keep only one tab open, right-click it and choose Close other tabs.

    • Close a specific set of tabs. If you want to close a specific set of tabs, hold down the control (Ctrl) key and select the tabs you want. Then right-click and close them (or choose any of the other options available in the drop-down menu).

    • Bookmark instead of keeping a tab open. Bookmark pages by pressing Ctrl + D.

    Did you close something important by accident? Press Ctrl + Shift + T to reopen the last tab(s) you closed.

    Reset your browser

    Refresh your browser to clear out all the junk that’s still there. If you do a factory reset along with the aforementioned tips, you’ll have a clean install of the browser. 

    Website permissions and themes don’t get removed when clearing out temporary files, and those things can still slow things down. That’s what a reset is designed to clear out. A browser reset is one of the best things you can do to clean up your PC.

    Here’s how to reset each browser:

    How to reset Google Chrome

    1. Click the three dots in the upper-right corner.

      Screenshot of Google Chrome with three dots circled in upper-right.
    2. Click Settings.

      the three dots menu in Google Chrome with Settings circled.
    3. Scroll down to the bottom and click Advanced.

      the bottom of the settings menu in Google Chrome with Advanced circled.
    4. Scroll down to the bottom and click Reset settings.

      the bottom of the Advanced settings in Google Chrome, where the option to Restore settings to their original defaults is circled.

    How to reset Firefox

    Firefox’s Refresh function is different from Chrome because it won’t delete your cookies. Also, you don’t do it in the browser. Firefox has a button on its website that brings up this window:

    A screenshot of Firefox's Refresh button, which resets Firefox to its default settings.

    How to reset Microsoft Edge

    Here’s how to reset Microsoft Edge back to factory default.

    1. Click the three dots in the upper-right corner.

      Screenshot of Microsoft Edge with three dots circled in upper right.
    2. Click Settings.

      The three dots menu in Microsoft Edge with Settings circled.
    3. On the left, click Reset settings.

      The Settings menu in Microsoft Edge with Reset settings circled.
    4. Click Reset settings to their default values.

      The reset settings menu in Microsoft edge.
    5. Click Reset on the window that pops up.

      The prompt to reset Microsoft Edge and clear all data associated with it except favorites, history, and saved passwords.

    Resetting your browser should improve its performance.

    Try a different browser

    If none of the above solutions has fixed the problem — you’ve cleaned your browser completely and still no change — try a different browser. Learn which web browser is the fastest, and once you’ve made your choice, set that browser as your default.

    You can go with another well-known browser, such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. But these browsers may sacrifice security for other needs. Instead, choose a browser that puts your security and privacy at the forefront. And if you do want to go with Chrome, check out our simple guide to set Google Chrome as your default browser

    Avast Secure Browser comes with all the features necessary for a secure browsing experience. You don’t need to add any third-party extensions and watch the browser slow to a crawl. It’s already designed to keep your browsing private and secure from the start.

    Speed up your browsing experience with Avast Secure Browser

    A browser should be secure without requiring add-ons. Avast Secure Browser is carefully designed and maintained by privacy and performance experts. It blocks ads without needing an extension, and it blocks malicious websites automatically. Enjoy better browsing today.


    Why is Chrome so slow?

    Chrome is often slow when you have too many tabs open, your browser software is outdated, or you’ve collected too many browser cookies. Your internet service provider (ISP) can also throttle your internet connection, which causes Chrome to slow down.

    How do I speed up my browser?

    To speed up your browser, try boosting your internet speed by updating the software, clearing cache and cookies, and closing unused tabs. Removing unused add-ons or extensions can also help speed up your browser. If all else fails, do a clean install of your preferred browser to get rid of all the junk slowing it down.

    Why is Firefox running slow?

    Firefox stores cookies and cache from all the websites you visit to help web pages load more quickly when you revisit them — but too much stored cache can slow you down. Clearing Firefox cache every so often and removing unused Firefox add-ons can help you keep browsing at full speed.

    How do I fix a slow Safari browser?

    Closing unused tabs, checking for updates in the App Store, and clearing your Mac cache can help speed up Safari. If Safari is still slow, try speeding up your Mac or even restarting it to optimize your machine, get rid of unnecessary junk, and help fix slow or stuck processes.

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    Anthony Freda