If you haven’t heard yet, or haven’t seen the countless memes, Internet Explorer can be, well, incredibly slow. There’s a reason the only time Internet Explorer is used is to install a different browser, and then left to collect dust in some random folder. And sure, it’s “newer” versions have certainly been an improvement, but its namesake has carried a lot of baggage with it and for good reason.

But why is Internet Explorer so slow? Let’s find out.

How Many Add-ons Does One Need?

For starters, Internet Explorer comes with a lot of add-ons. For every add-on that’s added, whether you’re using Internet Explorer or a better web browser, you slow your web browser down. It has to process the existence of every single add-on that’s been glued to its back.

Unfortunately, Internet Explorer comes with a few chains of its own. Why? Because it’s a largely used web browser, regardless of its history, and you could argue that’s largely due to it being pre-installed on just about any Windows computer you get your hands on. That large user base feeds Internet Explorer’s need to have a bit of everything.

A fresh install of Internet Explorer comes with BHOs, or “browser helper objects.” BHOs are toolbars like the Google toolbar, and various incarnations of add-ons that supposedly “improve” your web browser.

If you’re hellbent on using Internet Explorer, you madman, you have the option to clean it up a little. Here’s what you do:

1. Locate and launch Internet Explorer. In the top right corner of the window you’ll see a little gear icon. That’s your Tools menu. Click on Tools and a drop down menu will appear.

2. In the drop down menu that follows, travel to the bottom of the menu until you see Internet Options. Go ahead and click that. Doing so will launch Internet Options in a small dialogue box.

Manage Add-ons

3. Now, along the top of Internet Options window there’s several tabs. Click on the Programs tab. In Programs, choose Manage Add-ons. You’ll find it in the upper portion of the window.

Disable or Delete or Remove

4. Depending on the add-on, it can either be deleted or disabled. Either way, you have to first click on the add-on and choose Disable or Delete or Remove in the bottom right corner of the “Manage Add-ons” menu.

5. Click Close when you’re finished.

Your “History” Folder is Working Against You

When you visit a website, if your History is active, Internet Explorer keeps note of those websites that you visit. Those visits are then kept inside a neat little folder. Unfortunately, that folder is working against you.

Your History folder, like the add-ons installed, will bog Internet Explorer down after awhile. Yes, it’s convenient to have the ability to revisit a page you forgot or like to frequent often, but Internet Explorer is already slow; you’re only making it worse. You should, at the very least, bookmark your favorite pages and dump your Internet Explorer’s history when you start noticing a slowdown.

1. Open Tools–the gear icon in the top right corner of the program–and choose Internet Options from the drop down menu.

2. In Internet Options, click Settings within the General tab.

Days to keep pages in history

3. In the History tab, reduce the number of days to keep history by clicking the arrows next to “Days to keep pages in history.” Making it 0 will ensure that your history isn’t kept. Then click OK.

4. Click OK again and restart Internet Explorer.

It’s Not Internet Explorer, It’s Your Network

Let’s give Internet Explorer the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say you don’t have a lot of add-ons, only the necessary ones it needs, and your browser history is cleaned out regularly, but you’re still feeling the sting of a slow web browser. What then? Well, it’s possible that your network is to blame.

It’s possible that your network took a hit at some point. Before you call your internet provider, start by rebooting the modem and router, see if that makes a difference.

1. Locate your modem and router (if you have a router). In the back, find the power cable for both your modem and router. Follow the cords until you reach the power outlet they are both plugged into.

2. Pull the power cords from the power outlet and give the modem and router at least 2 minutes.

3. After 2 minutes has passed, plug your modem and router back in. Give your modem and router time to reboot and start broadcasting your network. Double-check it’s working by using another device like a mobile device or a computer.

Your Browser Has Been Infected

No one web browser is 100% secure. Spyware, adware, malware and viruses are present when using the web, and it isn’t always avoidable. What matters is that you practice safe browsing.

Unfortunately, the same malicious software can infect Internet Explorer and slow it down tremendously, making it unusable in many cases. And it can get worse if it uses Internet Explorer to infect the rest of your computer. A good adware, spyware, malware and antivirus removal software will do you some good. Take it to professionals should the need arise.