Why Is My Computer Loading Web Pages So Slowly?

By Ashley Poland

Slow websites affect time-sensitive tasks, such as online bidding.
i Bryan Bedder/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

There's nothing more frustrating than waiting for a website to load; it reduces productivity and slows down your whole day. Consider, first, what "slowly" means to you. A study by Equation Research found that tablet users expected websites to load in two seconds, while the average page load time is three and a half seconds. Before diagnosing your computer with glacial load speeds, make sure that you're working with the right frame of mind.

Internet Connection

The speed of your Internet connection is a major factor in determining your browser's page-load time. In the age of cable and fiber-optic Internet connections, Web designers build sites with speed in mind. High-speed DSL connections are slower than most cable connections, and connecting via a Wi-Fi network can be up to 30% slower than connecting via Ethernet cable. When several users share a wireless connection, there may not be enough bandwidth to go around. Also, if you're running a bandwidth-heavy application, such as streaming video or gaming online, your connection will likely bog down.

Computer Resources

Your Internet connection is a large part of page load speed, but the hardware in your computer is also a factor. A computer running low on memory and processor power will slow down during page loads, especially if you have many other applications running or browser tabs open. One solution is to upgrade your RAM, but if you can't upgrade, another option is to switch to a more efficient browser. Software developer Adam Prescott tested the memory usage of major browsers and found that Chrome used the most memory due to its multiprocess system, while Firefox was more efficient as a single process.

Browser Issues

Modern browsers offer a lot of extra functionality in the form of extensions, add-ons, and plugins -- all of which can impede page-load times and otherwise slow down your browser. Among the plugins that probably shipped with your browser are Flash and media plugins. Disable any plug-ins that you don't use and remove unnecessary add-ons. This should speed up your browser's page loads.

Website Issues

If you're experiencing a slow-down with a single website or a cluster of related sites, the problem may be with the site's own servers. If the site's host doesn't have enough RAM or the servers are overloaded with more traffic than they were designed to handle, the site bogs down. Check several unrelated websites to determine whether the slow loading occurs on all sites or just a few.