Why Are Web Pages Loading Slowly?

By C.D. Crowder

You're ready to visit your favorite site, but it takes forever for the page to load. Refreshing doesn't help, neither does restarting your browser. Slow-loading Web pages are a symptom of many different issues. The problem could be your computer or a server hundreds of miles away. While you may not be able to solve the problem yourself, you can at least figure out why it's happening.

Never Enough Bandwidth

Many Web hosts have bandwidth restrictions, meaning a site can only handle so many visitors at once. If there are numerous sites on a single server, they may all slow down if only one or two sites max-out the bandwidth restrictions. If you suspect this to be the problem, wait a little and try again.Some ISPs also have bandwidth restrictions. If you go over your limit, your connection is limited for a set period. If every page you visit is slow and you have a limited bandwidth Internet package, you'll have to wait until the enforced limitation is lifted.

It's Not You, It's the Site

The site itself is often to blame for slow-loading pages. If every other site you visit is fine, the problem is likely the site itself. Sites using an abundance of unoptimized images, bulky design elements, flash animations and embedded media, such as videos, often load extremely slowly. The larger the file size for each page on a site, the longer it takes to load. If you're having problems with the site, contact the site owner and let them know.

Sneaky Malware

If all of the sites you visit are loading slowly, the problem could be your computer. One of the most common symptoms of malware, trojans, spyware and other viruses is a seemingly slower Internet connection. These viruses often run in the background, eating up your computer's RAM. They might also be sending data back to a hacker, which makes your own browsing experience excruciatingly slow and a potential security threat. Run an anti-virus and anti-malware scan on your computer. You can use either free or paid programs. If anything's found, remove it completely before visiting any other Web pages. Some of the most popular anti-virus and malware programs include Avast, Malwarebytes, AVG Anti-Virus and McAfee (links in Resources). The first three are available in both free and paid versions.

Network Problems Galore

Congested networks or network outages may prevent Web pages from loading at all. The more people there are using a network at one time, the slower it becomes. This is true for both private home networks, company and public Wi-Fi networks. Even your ISP's network slows down when too many people try to use it at once for data intensive activities, such as streaming or gaming.To fix this problem, try reducing how many people use your home network. Start by asking anyone in the household to turn off the Wi-Fi on their mobile devices if they're not using them. Also, check the current connections on your home network for neighbors piggybacking off your Wi-Fi. Use a strong password to secure the network and lock your neighbors out.For public networks or ISP networks, there's little you can do but wait. If your ISP's network goes down, report it and you'll likely be given an estimated time when your connection will return.

Blame It on the Browser

Often, the browser itself is to blame for slow-loading pages. Every add-on or extension you load can drastically reduce loading times. Try disabling some or all of your add-ons to determine if they're the cause. Older browsers are also a problem. If you're using an outdated browser, upgrade it immediately. Not only will you be more secure, but the browser will be optimized for newer Web pages.Some sites only support certain browsers. If you're only having problems on a few sites, try opening them in another browser. Odds are, most sites will support either Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Firefox.

A Little Over-Protective

While you're anti-virus and firewall are designed to keep you safe, sometimes they can be a little over-protective. Some legitimate sites are flagged as dangerous by your anti-virus and your firewall may block them. If you trust the site, temporarily disable your firewall or anti-virus software and try to load the page again. If it loads, add the site to your security software's white list to prevent any further problems.