How to Browse the Web Safely

Safe browsing is easy to do, but not enough people do it. You don’t have to be one of those people who has their computer or personal information compromised because of unsafe browsing, or if this has already happened to you, it doesn’t have to happen again. So what can you do to prevent it?


Make Strong Passwords, Use Them and Change Them Frequently

It’s easy to make strong passwords that are difficult to crack. For a strong password, use lots of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. At least eight characters in password length is a good rule of thumb. You can include nonsense words or phrases to make it easier to remember, but make certain that none of this would make much sense to someone trying to figure out what your password might be. Whatever you do, don’t put any personal information like your name or birth date into your password! This would make it much easier to guess. You also want to change your passwords every six months or so, and use a different password at least for each of your most important accounts, like online banking or payment services that have access to your money.


Use Security Software and Keep It Updated

You’ll also want to install anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computer, and you want to keep it constantly updated because new viruses and malware programs come out and threaten your computer and personal information all the time. Use a firewall, too. A firewall is an application that blocks unauthorized access to your computer. Security software is important for desktop and laptop computers and also for mobile devices with wireless internet access, as security problems present themselves whenever there is a connection to the internet, and indeed whenever there is a connection to any kind of computer network. This is especially true for public wireless hotspots.


Watch Out for Email Attachments and Instant Message Links

Email attachments are a common way for viruses and malware to enter your computer, so if you get any attachments that you’re not expecting, don’t open them unless you’re very sure that they’re safe. Know that sometimes hackers will even pose as your friends if they’ve compromised your friends’ email accounts, though to be honest these hackers are usually not very good at acting. The same goes for links embedded in instant messages: if it looks fishy, don’t click on it. Clicking on pop-up ads when you’re browsing the web is also a bad idea, since these can redirect to viruses or malware that then infect your computer. You may also want to run an anti-virus or anti-malware scan if your computer has been running unusually slowly lately or if you’re getting lots more pop-up ads or error messages than usual, as these can be signs of a malicious software infection. If you can do all this, or even some of it, you’ll make major strides in improving the safety of your web browsing experience.


How to Make Your Browser Faster

You access the internet through your web browser, so you probably spend a lot of time on it. Maybe too much time! Save time and the frustration of annoying delays by improving your browser speed, because the faster your web browser, the faster you can surf the internet.


Update Your Browser

The easiest way to make your web browser run faster is to run the newest version of it, so keep your browser constantly updated. If you don’t like the browser you’re currently running, you can also change it to something else. The most popular browsers right now are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari (for Macs) and Opera, not including mobile browsers like Android. You can experiment with different browsers to see which one works fastest for you. Another trick is to have more than one browser installed on your computer at the same time, since if one of them is having problems you can always temporarily switch to using the other.


Learn Some Web Browsing Tricks

There are certain tricks that can add up to make your web browsing experience much faster. One is to use tabs instead of windows, which can mean way less browser loading time and also less time laboriously switching between different web pages. Using multiple computer monitors simultaneously also helps with this. You can configure your browser to use tabs as opposed to windows automatically while still retaining the option to use windows when you want to. Keyboard shortcuts also make browsing much faster. Use Ctrl+T to open a new tab (Cmd-T for Macs) and Ctrl+L (Cmd-L for Macs) to move to your browser’s location bar to enter a url to save you lots of mousing and clicking around. There are also many different shortcuts unique to each browser which you can look up and learn without much time and effort in your browser’s menus.


Keep Your Internet Surfing Experience a Lean One

Try to stay way from opening too many tabs and windows at the same time, as this will slow your browser down. If you need lots of tabs and windows temporarily, bookmark the urls and then delete the tabs and windows for later viewing. Unless you use it constantly, consider blocking Flash, too, since not doing this increases load times whenever you’re accessing a Flash-using website. You’ll often see Flash used in videos and in advertisements. If you’re having internet connection problems that are slowing you down and you already have all the information you need displayed in your web browser, consider disconnecting yourself from the internet for the time being, since you can still browse without a connection: you just can’t load anything new. Too much multitasking will also slow down your web browsing experience, so if you want to browse faster try to avoid doing too much at once, like watching too many high definition videos or loading too many high quality images at the same time, or downloading a lot of information all at once.


How to Optimize Bookmarks on Your Browser

You probably use bookmarks already when you want to save a url tab or window for later viewing, but there’s more to bookmarking than just that. You can also edit bookmarks, bookmark all of your open tabs at once, change how you organize your bookmarks and more.


Create and Edit Your Bookmarks

After bookmarking a web page, your browser will also allow you to change the name of that bookmark in your browser’s bookmarks menu. You can move your bookmark to different bookmark folders and change the names of those folders as well. You can also tag bookmarks to help you identify and organize them. For instance, you could add the tags “work, email, work email” to a bookmark of the Gmail sign-in page to make that bookmark more easily searchable. Tags can also be edited. Search for bookmarks with a certain tag by individually looking at your bookmark tags and the bookmarks associated with each tag. Additionally, you can bookmark all of your open tabs at once by selecting that option from the menu that pops up when you right-click on a tab. Right-click on the web page in question to bookmark just the individual tab you’re currently on.


Find and Organize Your Bookmarks

One way to see your bookmarks is to start typing the name of a website into the location bar where you enter urls. Sites you’ve bookmarked will be marked there alongside sites you’ve visited but not bookmarked. You can also find your bookmarks more systematically in your browser’s menus. You can choose to display all of your bookmarks in one long list, or you can also display bookmarks by folder and by tag. Once you’re displaying your bookmarks, you can organize them in various ways. You can sort them alphabetically by name or rearrange them manually if you wish. Additionally, you can organize your bookmarks into folders as well as create, edit and sort these folders. It’s also possible to delete individual bookmarks, whole blocks of bookmarks or bookmark folders.


Import, Export and Backup Bookmarks

Bookmarks can also be imported and exported to and from other browsers you have installed on your computer. You might have multiple browsers installed in case one of them is not working well or to do different sorts of web browsing, since different browsers have different strengths and weaknesses. You might also be using multiple browsers to mentally separate different types of browsing: into work and play, for instance. You can also import and export bookmarks to and from different computers, whether those computers are running the same browser or not. Additionally, you can backup your bookmarks in case of disaster, say from a computer virus or from physical damage to your computer. Depending on the browser you’re using, it might also be possible to import, export and backup other browser information besides bookmarks. Examples of this are browser add-ons, history, passwords and open tabs. This can be useful if you often switch between using different computers.


How to Optimize Browser Functionality

Your browser isn’t as fast as it could be, and you want your web browsing experience to run smoother than it has been running. Fortunately, you can improve your internet experience by optimizing your browser function. This means optimizing more than just the browser itself.


Shop Around for the Best Browser for You, and Keep it Updated

The web browser that your computer came installed with may not be the browser out there that best suits your needs. You can shop around for different browsers (all of the popular ones are free), test them out and choose whichever browser you like best. The most common browsers around today are Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari and Opera Software’s Opera. So far, you have less choice in which browser you can use on mobile devices, but that will change. Once you’ve chosen your favorite browser, it will run best if you always keep it updated to the latest version. You might one to keep multiple browsers on your computer if you’re unsure which is your favorite yet, or just in case one them gets buggy.


Optimize Your Computer to Optimize Your Browser

If your browser is still slow or otherwise unsatisfactory, you’ll be able to improve performance further by optimizing background elements that might be slowing things down. Your browser runs on your computer’s operating system, or OS, so you want to keep your OS constantly updated just as you keep your browser updated. You’re using your browser to browse the internet, so your internet connection speed is another important factor in the performance of your browser. Speed up your internet by upgrading to a better connection or by avoiding doing too much downloading or uploading all at once. Further in the background, both your browser and your OS are running on the computer itself. Keep your computer hardware well-maintained and upgraded and replaced when necessary to provide the best background environment for a smoothly running web browser.


Defend Your Browser Against Malicious Software

Your browser is also vulnerable to attacks from malicious software, like viruses, malware and spyware. Spyware is particularly pernicious to smooth browser operation because it runs stealthily in the background of your computer’s operations, collecting your personal information and slowing down your browser and the rest of your computer without your knowledge. Other examples of security threats to your web browsing include web bugs that violate your online privacy, adware that delivers you ads whether you want them or not and trojans that wrest control over your computer from you for nefarious purposes. Protect your browser against these attacks by installing and updating anti-malware and anti-virus software, and use a firewall application. Your browser will also have some built-in security features, so don’t disable them unless you have a very good reason to do so. Security is another reason to make sure that your browser is always updated to the latest version, since browsers must constantly defend against new sorts of malicious software attacks.



How to Speed Up Your Browser by Increasing the Speed of Your Computer

One of the easiest ways to speed up your browser and surf the internet faster is to upgrade your computer’s RAM, or Random Access Memory, which your browser needs to run fast. Keep your computer’s RAM up to date for the newest applications and most recent versions of your browser by periodically upgrading it with superior components. Eventually your computer’s other parts will wear out and become obsolete as well, and that’s the time to replace your entire system.


Check Your RAM

You can check your computer’s RAM capabilities in different ways depending on your computer’s operating system. If you’re using Windows, you can see the numbers on your computer’s RAM in the System section of the Control Panel. Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to bring up the Task Manager, which shows you how the RAM is currently being used. The Task Manager’s Performance tab does a graph of your present memory resources. On a Mac OS operating system, the Activity Monitor’s System Memory tab does something similar. Third-party software can also be used to check your RAM, and it can also help manage it for you by closing computer programs you aren’t using if you set it to do so. Additionally, you can free up RAM by manually closing programs you’re not using, by avoiding use of programs that require too much memory or by avoiding running too many programs at the same time. You can only do this so much until you reach a point when you need more RAM, however.


Add More RAM

Add more RAM to your computer’s motherboard, or circuit board. This can mean adding more sticks of RAM to the board, replacing sticks that are malfunctioning or obsolete or upgrading to sticks of RAM with more memory. However, your motherboard will only allow so many spaces for sticks of RAM and only so much memory, and when it runs out you’ll need a new computer for further upgrading. Still, you can probably do a lot in terms of RAM for the computer you have for the time being. Different types of memory exist, so check your computer’s user manual to make certain you get the right kind. There may be a lot of room in your computer for more memory.


Add More Disk Space

So what do you do if you’ve maxed out your computer’s RAM, but it’s not time for a whole new computer yet, and you’re still having trouble with your web browser speed? The next step is to upgrade your hard disk by adding more disk space, which is the measure of your computer’s data storage capacity. This is also where your computer draws from if it runs out of RAM but it still needs more memory, so upgrading it will make your internet browsing experience faster on the margin. Hard disks need replacing over time for malfunctioning or obsolescence just as RAM does, and you can also add more disk space or an upgraded hard disk to your computer.


How to Troubleshoot Your Browser

Your web browser is how you surf the internet, and as that’s probably one of the most important things you do on your computer, you want your web browser running smoothly at all times. There are simple steps you can take to troubleshoot browser problems.


Check Your Internet Connection

The first step to browser troubleshooting is checking that your internet connection is working properly. Check that that your internet connection cable is plugged in, that your modem and router are on if you use these devices, or if you’re using wireless internet check that your wireless device is on. Check the network connection information section of your browser or your operating system to see what kind of connection you’re getting. If the connection is spotty or nonexistent, wait a bit to see if it improves, and if it doesn’t, contact your internet service provider, the entity responsible for providing you with access to the internet. If you’re in a public or private wireless hotspot, contact the appropriate public or private authority, but don’t expect a speedy response, as you’re not paying them for internet access in this instance, in contrast with your relationship with your internet service provider.


Consider an Alternate Browser

If your internet connection is working just fine, check your browser’s help section. If the browser isn’t working well enough to do that, contact the makers of the browser by email, chat or phone, though a chat or phone consultation might not be free. Common types of tech support available are a FAQ page, a user guide, help forums and possibly a live help option. It’s also an excellent idea to have more than one browser installed on your computer, because then you can use the other one while your main browser if having problems. If you haven’t done this already, do it now in preparation for the next time you have a browser issue. Alternatively, if you use multiple computers or mobile devices you could temporarily switch to using a different machine. If your main browser is working well enough to allow it, you could also download and install another browser to use while your main browser is still malfunctioning.


Search for a Solution to Your Problem

You can also search for third-party FAQ pages and help forums that might address the issue you’re having with your web browser. You can ask a specific question at such a forum if you don’t see the answer to your question already spelled out. Also check that your computer meets the minimum system requirements of the browser you’re using, especially after your browser’s most recent update. You may need to upgrade or replace your computer if it’s too obsolete for modern browsers. Speaking of updates, be sure that your browser is completely updated and that other essential software like your operating system and security programs are also up to date. If all else fails, try simply restarting your computer, or shut down other programs that might be interfering with the functioning of your browser.


How to Use a Browser

If you’re new to browsing the internet, you’ll need to know how to use a web browser. If you’re not new to browsing, chances are you don’t yet know everything your browser can do for you. Browsers these days have a lot of useful features.


Navigate Your Browser’s User Interface

The web browser you’re using will have back and forward buttons in the user interface: mouse over the  buttons to see text that briefly explains what they do. Use the back button (by clicking on it) to get to the last web page you were on in a given tab, and use the forward button to go forward again. The home button will bring you to your home page. You can set your home page in your browser’s menus, and some websites will allow you to do so through the site. Use the stop button to cancel loading pages and the reload button to restart loading. Type the url of the website you want to go to and press Enter into the address bar to visit a website. Depending on the browser, there may also be a search bar that allows you to type what you want to search for directly into a search engine. See the status bar to determine how much of a web page has loaded.


Use Your Browser’s Features

Many browsers allow you to zoom in and out on pages. Another common feature is incremental find, which lets you search for a given word or phrase in a confined fashion within a given web page. Popular browsers support many different protocols and file formats to let you browse wide swaths of the internet with little trouble. Some browsers also include features like email and chat services that might otherwise be separate applications. Browsers will let you open as many urls as you want in different tabs and windows, but opening a huge amount will slow your browser down. Many browsers include pop-up blockers to prevent the appearance of pop-up ads, and other ad blockers for other types of ads also exist. Another common feature is bookmarking, which allows you to save url data to view web pages later. Many browsers allow plug-ins, which are downloadable extensions to the browser’s functionality that you can add if you want to. All browsers require updating from time to time, and most will do this automatically. Plug-ins may require separate updating.


Explore Your Browser for More Features

Look around in your browser’s menu for additional features that may interest you, and feel free to do some experimenting. Additional features that some browsers offer include browser security management, password management, download management, automatic filling out of forms, spell checking, syndicated content support, support for multiple languages and various privacy options. Some less common features include mobile support, text-based user interfacing as opposed to graphical user interfacing, text-to-speech and voice control. Your computer probably came with a web browser already installed, but in many cases you can change browsers for free if you wish.


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