Sometimes your browser just "hangs" and "bags out for no reason".  You begin shaking your fist at the sky "STUPID MICROSOFT".

But what’s interesting, is most of the time.  The browser itself is not at fault.

There are components known as "Add-ins" which are additional bits of software that interact with your browser to enhance your Web surfing experience.

Examples of some add-ins you may be aware of would be the "Flash Player", "Adobe Reader", "Silverlight" and third party applications written by Web site designers for specific use within their systems.

Now in the newer versions of Internet Explorer I find it sometimes catches the problem and automatically disables the add-in.

But sometimes it doesn’t know.   It can’t figure out what add-in did it or why things went ‘Wonky’

Here’s a quick way to find out if an "Add-in" is the cause.

Run Internet Explorer with no add-ons.  It’s not a solution but it does help in troubleshooting.   You may find the shortcut on the Start menu marked as "Internet Explorer (No Add-ons)"

If for any reason the shortcut is not there (Aliens, mad overdone recycle bin, Murphy’s Law) the command line is

IEXPLORE.EXE -extoff

If you find the browser runs a lot better in this mode, one of the add-ins is not working right.  

How to figure out which one is a bit of Trial and Error.

Go into your Internet options, Click on the "Programs" tab.  Somewhere on there (depending on your particular version of Internet Explorer) should be a "Manage Addons" button.

Now for the fun.

Disable ALL the addons (WHAT?!) You heard me right.   You need to turn off all the add-ons (even ones that are probably ok) to find the bad one. 

To do this, click on each add-on in the list, choose "Disable".  Once you’ve shut down the entire list.  Start your browsing.  All good?  

Fanstastic.  Now go back in and turn the add-ins back on through the same procedure ONE AT A TIME.   Do this until you’ve identified the trouble maker.

Once you have nailed the trouble maker down, turn the rest of your add-ins back on.  You should be good to go.

Take note sometimes, the cause of a browsing issue can also be a corrupted folder holding your history data, Temporary Internet Files, bad cookies.  

A quick way to determine that would be to create a new user in the system temporarily in Windows.  Log in and use the browser as that user.  If all works well, it’s probably something specific to that user and personal data.

If this is the case, you can usually purge or even just move the data to a new location.  I personally prefer purging which makes the system assume it’s not there and make it fresh.  A quick method to do this I have found is the good old command prompt.

Log off and restart the computer.   Once powered up, login as a different account with administrative access.  Start up a command prompt, browse to the suspect location with the Temporary Internet Files.   Fire up good old "RD" (Remove directory) and execute a "RD /S /Q TEMPOR~1" to purge out the Temporary Internet Files folder structure.   Take note, this will also purge out the "Temporary Outlook Attachments" cache. 

This should give you as clean a template as possible for your Temporary Files.  Failing that, recreate the user and copy the necessary information to the new profile locations directly.

There are also items known as BHO or "Browser Helper Objects". Similar to add-ins.   To get rid of these links I’ve found using a utility known as "HijackThis" written by an excellent programmer works amazing.  It’s meant for spyware removal (which in itself can cause the browser to absolutely freak).   Using this utility you MUST BE 100% comfortable with what you’re doing and KNOW what you’re removing.  It is possible to mess up the TCP/IP stack severely if you’re not careful.  

But you might be able to spot links to BHO that are dead, BHO’s pointing to "K001FreeWAREZ.DLL" or BHO’s trying to run from a TEMP or TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES location.   Those are all pretty much suspect.

Remember this is not "The only way to fix it".  This is just another piece of ammunition in your utility belt.   You can apply to this to a Mac and Linux browser as well.   Although the commands and parameters are different.  The reasons for failure WILL be similar.   Something added to the browser not by the original programmer that failed.    A bad file the system is tripping over.  Something the programming team could not foresee.

Remember often a small problem creates a much larger problem.  I have found more often than not, stepping back and thinking simple helps nail down the big problem.

Sean
The Energized Tech
Dedication and Inspiration creating the new Generation