Tech Tips For Old Folks: Speed Up Your Browsing

If you're under 35 or so, you probably struggle to remember a time when you didn't have a computer around (I first set fingers on an Apple II keyboard in the first grade), but it's easy to forget that this stuff isn't second nature for everybody. I always have to do a little tech support when I head home for the holidays, and I tend to see a lot of the same problems and questions, so I figure I might as well start passing some of those tips along. This won't be high-level stuff, but it should noticeably improve your computing experience, and probably your breath and your love life.

So, on to today's lesson:

Ditch Internet Explorer Right Now And Install Firefox

If you're using a Windows machine and your "computer is slow" when you're browsing the web, you're probably using Internet Explorer. That's the browser Microsoft includes with each copy of Windows, and most people don't think twice about using it. The truth is, you shouldn't think twice about uninstalling that bloated, awful mess of a program. You want to see a difference in speed while you surf? Here's where you should start:

  1. Visit www.mozilla.com.
  2. Download the latest version of Firefox.
  3. Install Firefox using the file you just downloaded, following the on-screen instructions. During installation, you can also choose to import your Internet Explorer bookmarks/favorites.
  4. Start Firefox and, when prompted, make it your default browser.
  5. See if that helps.

BONUS ROUND

One of Firefox's most important features is its ability to incorporate Extensions, small programs that can be used to customize your online experience. These things are incredibly powerful, and they're easy to use. The first one I install is always Adblock Plus, which does exactly what it says: blocks advertisements on web pages. Those annoying banner ads that flash while you're trying to read? You can get rid of them forever. Sound good? Good. Let's do this thing.

  1. Visit this page on the Mozilla website.
  2. Click the "Add To Firefox" button.
  3. Once the installation is complete, you'll be prompted to restart Firefox, so do that.
  4. Once Firefox restarts, subscribe to the appropriate ad list (for Americans, that's EasyList USA). This is a continually updated database of online ads, and it tells AdBlock what to display and what to not even bother loading.

In addition to shielding you from a metric ton of marketing bullshit, Adblock also provides a performance boost - since your browser doesn't have to load all those annoying Flash animations anymore, your system memory can be allocated elsewhere.

I think you'll notice a huge improvement right away if you do these two things, and the entire process should take about five minutes. I hope that helps! Feel free to leave your own tips, or just tell me I'm an asshole because Safari/Chrome/Opera/Camino is clearly superior Firefox, in the comments.