Home > Articles >10 Tips to Speed Up, Optimize & Boost Internet Explorer 8, IE7 and IE6 Performance

10 Tips to Speed Up, Optimize & Boost Internet Explorer 8, IE7 and IE6 Performance
Version 0.512

This article is a tutorial that explains how to speed up Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 without compromising on features. Most users of this guide will immediately see up to a 500% boost in speed with the first optimization

DISCLAIMER

Proceed at your own risk! The information here is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I will not be held responsible if this document causes your computer to explode or burst into flames. In real serious terms, if any corruption of data, hardware damage or any other kind of damage/losses/etc. arises from the use of this document, I will not be responsible for it. If you don't like this, please don't read any further.

1. Disable Unneeded Add-ons

This is the Number 1 culprit in slowing down your browser. To get an idea of the speed boost you can get, go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Internet Explorer (No Add-ons).

How Much Speed Are We Talking?

You will now see Internet Explorer start without any add-ons or toolbars. The speed of how the browser starts now may have startled you.

Try out the browser now. Very much faster? Now you realize how those pesky add-ons have been slowing down your browsing experience. However, in this mode, you won't be able to watch YouTube videos as the Flash add-on is also disabled. We will fix this now.

Close the browser and start the browser as normal. In the browser, go to http://www.google.com. Next, we need to go to Manage Add-ons

- For IE8 and IE6, go to Internet Explorer > Tools > Manage Add-Ons.

- For IE7, go to Internet Explorer > Tools > Manage Add-Ons.> Enable or Disable Add-ons

You will now get the Manage Add-ons window

Manage Add-ons window in IE8
Manage Add-ons window in IE8

This is how Manage Add-ons looks like in IE8. The difference between earlier versions is that they have some additional functionality missing, but the main functions we need are there.

Make sure under 'Show:', only 'Add-ons currently loaded' is selected

  • For IE8, under "Show:", "Currently loaded add-ons" should be selected
  • For IE6 and IE7, under "Show:", "Add-ons currently loaded in Internet Explorer" should be selected

Now you have a list of add-ons that are currently loaded. What you need to do now is to disable all add-ons that you don't need. So now you ask, how to disable an add-on?

  • For IE8, click the add-on on the right column, and click the Disable button at the bottom.
  • For IE6 and IE7, click the add-on and at the Settings box at the bottom, click Disable.

Here is a table of some commonly known add-ons that you can disable. The value in square brackets [ ] indicate my personal opinion of whether it should be disabled.

  Add-on Name Purpose Can Be Disabled?
1 Adobe PDF Link Helper Open PDF documents in the same IE8 window without opening Adobe Reader Yes, unless you prefer reading PDFs within Internet Explorer's window. PDFs will still open in Adobe Reader when this add-on is disabled [DISABLE]
2 Research Adds additional links to the menu bar Yes [DISABLE]
3 Diagnose Connection Problems... Helps you to diagnose connection problem whenever there is a problem connecting to the Internet Yes, enable it when needed [DISABLE]
4

Java(tm) Plug-In SSV Helper

Java(tm) Plug-In 2 SSV Helper

To display Java content Depends. If the sites you visit require Java (e.g. Internet Banking sites), then you have to leave this on. If not, disable it [ENABLE]
5 Windows Live Toolbar / Windows Live Sign-in Helper / Windows Live Toolbar BHO / Search Helper Windows Live Toolbar Disable if you don't use the Live! Toolbars. Windows Live software will still function normally [DISABLE]
6 Windows Messenger Helps you to sign in to Hotmail or other Passport sites automatically if you are already signed in Yes [DISABLE]
7 Blog This with Windows Live Writer Gives shortcuts to post the current webpage content and title quickly to your blog Enable it only if you use this function. Otherwise disable. [DISABLE]
8 Shockwave Flash Object Allows playing of embedded Flash videos at webpages such as YouTube Do not disable. [ENABLE]

Almost all of the add-ons can be disabled as they are not used.

2. Disable Automatic Configuration

Some PCs have this set for some reason, slowing down every time you open the browser. If you in a work environment, do not use this tweak as it may cause your Internet not to work.

To disable this, go to Start > Control Panel > Internet Options > Connections > LAN Settings. Uncheck all the boxes under Automatic Configuration.

3. Increase the Max Connections Per Server

Internet Explorer 7 and below are limited to two connections per server. This is why you can only download a maximum of two files from one website. Internet Explorer 8 raises this limit to 6.

Here is how to increase the number of HTTP simultaneous connections to 10. By having 10 connections, IE will be able to download 10 different files at one time. This will make web pages load faster.

If you are using Internet Explorer 7 and below

  1. Go to Start > Run
  2. Enter "regedit" and hit ENTER
  3. On the left, navigate to the following HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings folder by:
    1. Click HKEY_CURRENT_USER, then
    2. Software, then
    3. Microsoft, then
    4. Windows, then
    5. CurrentVersion, then
    6. Internet Settings
  4. Internet Settings should be selected on the left column
  5. Go to Edit > New > DWORD Value
  6. A box should appear. Put the name as "MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server", without double quotes. Press Enter.
  7. Double click the entry you just created, select Base as "Decimal" and type 10 under Value data
  8. Go to Edit > New > DWORD Value
  9. A box should appear. Put the name as "MaxConnectionsPerServer", without double quotes. Press Enter.
  10. Double click the entry you just created, select Base as "Decimal" and type 10 under Value data
  11. Close Registry Editor
  12. Restart your system

If you are using Internet Explorer 8

  1. Go to Start > Run
  2. Enter "regedit" and hit ENTER
  3. On the left, navigate to the following HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\MAIN\FeatureControl\FEATURE_MAXCONNECTIONSPERSERVER folder by:
    1. Click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, then
    2. SOFTWARE, then
    3. Microsoft, then
    4. Internet Explorer, then
    5. MAIN, then
    6. FeatureControl, then
    7. FEATURE_MAXCONNECTIONSPERSERVER
  4. FEATURE_MAXCONNECTIONSPERSERVER should be selected on the left column
  5. Go to Edit > New > DWORD Value
  6. A box should appear. Put the name as "iexplore.exe", without double quotes. Press Enter.
  7. Double click the entry you just created, select Base as "Decimal" and type 10 under Value data
  8. On the left, click on FEATURE_MAXCONNECTIONSPER1_0SERVER, which is just near to the one already selected
  9. Go to Edit > New > DWORD Value
  10. A box should appear. Put the name as "iexplore.exe", without double quotes. Press Enter.
  11. Double click the entry you just created, select Base as "Decimal" and type 10 under Value data
  12. Close Registry Editor
  13. Restart your system and the changes should take effect

4. Use a HOSTS file (Advanced)

Firefox has AdBlock Plus. Internet Explorer? HOSTS file.

Unfortunately, the Hosts file method is not as straight forward as Adblock Plus. For one, it blocks websites at a domain level. Next, removing an entry from the file requires you to go through some technical steps.

But once you get it working, you realize the speed benefits. Sites load faster. Here's how to install HostsMan, a free software that helps to manage the HOSTS file.

  1. Go to http://www.abelhadigital.com/
  2. Click HostsMan on the top
  3. Under "Download (Installer version)" header, click a download link under "Download from:"
  4. When your browser prompts you what to do with the ZIP file, click OPEN
  5. There should be a single file named HostsMan_Setup.exe. Double click it to install the manager

    HostsMan Setup Wizard
    First Setup screen of HostsMan
  6. Click Next in the following dialog boxes to install HostsMan
  7. After installation, the following interface appears:

    HostsMan Main Interface
    HostsMan Main Interface
  8. Click on the button in the middle to download the latest filter list
  9. On the box that appears, click Update. If HostsMan asks whether to update the Hosts file, click Update.
  10. Once you are done, you can close HostsMan. HostsMan does not need to be running.

If you ever need to remove a site from the filter list

  1. Start HostsMan (Start > Programs > HostsMan > HostsMan)
  2. Click the third button
  3. Click Find in the top toolbar
  4. Type the site name without the http://
  5. The table at the top of the window will be highlighted with the matching row.
  6. Check the box in the second column for that row
  7. Click Save on the toolbar
  8. Close the window and HostsMan
  9. Restart the browser

See what I mean when I said removing an entry is not easy?

When a site is blocked, visiting it directly in Internet Explorer 8 will pass it as a search query to your default search engine (Bing.com by default) thus potentially slowing down the page loading. Here's how to handle localhost requests internally, speeding up browsing

  1. Start HostsServer (Start > Programs > HostsMan > HostsServer)
  2. Tools > HostsServer > Control Panel
  3. Click on 'Start Server'. The Server Status should now be 'Running'
  4. Click on Options
  5. Check the box 'Start HostsServer automatically'
  6. Uncheck the box 'Enable Log'
  7. Click Apply
  8. Close

Now when you visit a blocked site directly, the message "Blocked: (domain name)" will be shown instead. Page loading times will now have a significant improvement.

5. Increase the Half-Open Connection Limit (Advanced)

Windows XP SP2 and above limits the number of half-open connections to 10. This is not a big issue, and increasing the limit yields little benefits.

To increase the limit, there are two freely available patchers:

Lvllord Patch - ONLY for Windows XP Users (NOT Vista/Windows 7 users, see next step for Vista users)
UPDATE: There has been a recent Automatic Update (MS08-001) released on January 8 2008 that addresses some network security concerns. The below has NOT been tested with the latest TCPIP.SYS (v5.0.2195.7147) file. Update:The patch has been tested with KB941644 (an automatic update) and works perfectly!

  1. Go to this site - http://www.lvllord.de/
  2. Click on Downloads.
  3. Right-click the link and click "Save Target As".
  4. Save it in your Desktop.
  5. Open the file and run the program located inside the archive, agreeing to the security warning.
  6. Some text should scroll by in a MS-DOS window, after it ends, type C.
  7. Enter 100 for the number of concurrent half-open connections and press Enter.
  8. Type Y and the file should be patched. Cancel any Windows XP warnings that should appear, it is part of Microsoft's way of ensuring its files are not tampered with (the utility tampers with them on purpose to change the limit).

To reset the max half open connections, run the lvllord utility again (for XP) and type 'U' to uninstall.

Half-Open Patch - For Windows VISTA / Windows XP (NOT required for Windows 7)
This patcher works for both 32 and 64 bit Vista and XP versions.
  1. Go to this site - http://half-open.com/download_en.htm.
  2. Download the EXE file in the link titled Half-open limit fix 4.1 (as of Feb 2010)
  3. Open the folder where you saved the file and run the file you downloaded
  4. Under 'New value', set it to 100 (if it is not already set)

    Set the new value to 100
    Set the new value to 100
  5. Click 'Add to tcpip.sys'
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click OK again. Cancel any Windows warnings that may appear, it is part of Microsoft's way of ensuring its files are not tampered with (the utility tampers with them on purpose to change the limit).
  8. Restart your computer.
  9. If something is not working right (e.g. Internet access does not work anymore) and you want to undo the changes, run the software again and click "Restore original file".
NOTE: The patchers above are known to trigger anti-virus alerts. Ignore them. The alerts are triggered due to the patcher making changes to the way Windows works hence making the anti-virus software suspicious.

6. Disable JavaScript and ActiveX (Advanced)

This tip can improve web page loading speed by up to 300% or even more. However, some sites may not work properly or even refuse to load. For example, Twitter will refuse to load with JavaScript disabled. Youtube videos will not work as well with Javascript disabled.

To disable JavaScript, start Internet Explorer and go to Tools > Internet Options > Security > Custom Level > Active Scripting and set it to 'Disable'.

To disable ActiveX, set 'Run ActiveX Controls and plug-ins' at the same window to 'Disable'. This automatically disables Flash as well.

7. Re-register actxprxy.dll (IE8 only)

It has been widely speculated in the web that running the following 'tweak' improves IE8 speed considerably. In actual fact, what it does is fix some holes left by installation processes.

Regardless, there is no bad side effects to this command. Close all IE8 browser windows. Go to Start > Run and enter the command

regsvr32 actxprxy.dll

and press Enter. You should get a 'DllRegisterServer in actxprxy.dll succeeded' message.

8. Clear Temporary Files

Few people remember to do this. Eventually, the hard drive ends up with years of data that was downloaded from the Internet.

For Internet Explorer 6

  1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Internet Options
  2. Click Delete Files
  3. Click OK

For Internet Explorer 7 and above

  1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Internet Options
  2. Click Delete...
  3. Click Delete Files
  4. Click Yes

Depending on the amount of data, this process can take some time.

8. Clean Up and Defrag Your Hard Drive

Defragging can improve performance in many software programs, not only Internet Explorer. It is best done after cleaning up your hard drive with a free utility such as CCleaner which we will do below.

First, lets do a clean up of your hard drive to get rid of all temporary files using a free efficient program named CCleaner.

  1. Go to the CCleaner download website - here is a direct link
  2. Click the link 'Download now'
  3. Run and install the software (remember to uncheck CCleaner Yahoo! Toolbar if you don't need it - it is NOT required and is checked by default)
  4. Run CCleaner

    CCleaner main interface
    CCleaner main interface
  5. By default, CCleaner erases Internet Explorer History and Cookies as well. If you don't want to delete these, uncheck the relevant boxes in the left column under Internet Explorer.
  6. Click Run Cleaner
  7. Click OK. Don't worry, only temporary files are deleted.

CCleaner will now run and delete all the left over temporary files. You may see stuff like Recent documents shortcuts and IE URL drop down empty. This is normal.

Now lets run Disk Defragmenter

  1. Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools
  2. Click Disk Defragmenter
  3. Click Defragment
This will take some time depending on how badly fragmented the drive is. For best results, close all programs before clicking the Defragment button.

9. Remove list of Restricted Sites

Some security software (such as Spybot - source) insert large lists of site addresses in Internet Explorer's Restricted Sites feature. This can slow down IE as it will need to verify the access permissions for every site it pulls data from.

WARNING: Following the tip below will clear all malicious site addresses inserted by your security software. With such entries, IE will restrict on what such sites can do IF you visit them. Without these entries, IE will treat these sites as normal sites. This does not mean that your computer is now more open to security vulnerabilities. As long as you keep Windows and Internet Explorer updated, you reduce the chances of getting compromised..

Personally, we would remove such lists as they can slow down the Internet Explorer browsing experience.

To clear such lists

  1. Go to http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/restricted.htm
  2. Download and save the DelDomains.inf file into your Desktop
  3. Go to your Desktop, right-click the file and click Install
  4. Nothing will happen - this is normal

10. Optimize Your Internet Connection

Optimize your TCP settings. Speedguide.net provides free utilities to make this step as easy as cake. We also have a mirror of the file.

Optimize TCP settings for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7

TCP Optimizer main window
TCP Optimizer Main Window

Steps to optimize your internet connection.

  1. First, download and extract the files to any folder.
  2. Double-click on the TCPOptimizer application in the folder to launch it
  3. At the bottom of the window, click "Optimal"
  4. At the top of the window, drag the slider to select your connection speed. If you are not sure, run the speed test. Use the value that you get for the Download field (which is in kb/s) and set the slider to it.
  5. If you are using ADSL, check with your Internet Service Provider whether it is based on PPPoE or PPPoA. You may also be able to obtain the information via your router's homepage. If your connection is based on PPPoE, tick the PPPoE box.
  6. Under the "Network Adapter selection" box, select the network adapter you use to connect to the Internet. If you are unsure, go to Start > Control Panel > Network Connections. Your connection should be listed there. Most of the time, it is Local Area Connection. Select the entry and the status bar at the bottom should display the network adapter name.
  7. Click 'Apply Changes' at the bottom of the window.
  8. Ensure that 'Backup' is checked and click OK at the next confirmation box that appears.
  9. Once the changes are done, reboot your system

This would have optimized your settings according to your internet connection you have. If you need to undo the changes TCP Optimizer made, open TCP Optimizer > File > Restore Backup Settings.

Last Updated 10th September 2010

Errors? Omissions? Need Help? Know something? Post your queries in the comments below!

This document is Copyright(©) 2010 by G.Ganesh. Visit Bootstrike.Com (http://bootstrike.com).

24 comments RSS of last 10 posts

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Unregistered Anonymous #7. Re-register actxprxy.dll (IE8 only) really worked wonders on my surfing speed. Spybot slowed down IE8 in my computer, and this made my browser three times faster.
posted 15 Aug 2010 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous Superbly helpful, very well considered and constructed - many people in many industries would do well to follow !
A sincere and personal thank you.
posted 5 Aug 2010 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous great dude....!!!
posted 23 Jul 2010 - show 1 replies - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous .
posted 11 Jan 2013 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous good tweaks aside from #6. disabling javascript and activex in this day and age is not a practical consideration.

-Vishnu
posted 23 May 2010 - Reply - Permanent Link
Franksr (1 posts) Franksr I just installed WIN 7 Pro on a new hard drive. I went through all your suggestions and it didn't help with my problem. However, if I run "iexplorer -exoff" it runs like a champ. I'm guessing it has to be one of the IE 8 Add-ons. This is very frustrating. I bring up any web site or click on a link to one, and 15-20 seconds before it comes up and sometimes longer. Its not my ISP connetion as it's 12MBs and last time I ran it it was over 25MBs download speed. I've been installing software and I'm thinking this Adobe Creative Suite 5 Web Premium might be part of my problem. Thanks for such a detailed list of suggestions. I appreciate all the effort you have put into this article.
posted 23 May 2010 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous if you wanna optimize your internet performance, i suggest downloading dsl speed, it can boosts internet connection, thereby speeding up your computer
posted 19 Jan 2010 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous Simply super splendiferous!

I knew of the steps in section 3, but as for the rest.....I had no idea.
No more frustration and ditching of IE; mine is now really fast, with pages opening within 1-3 seconds max! (I didn't even have to attempt steps 4-6 for this outcome either)

Thank you so much; keep up the good work, we need guys like you :-)


Tara
posted 12 Dec 2009 - Reply - Permanent Link

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