The Joys Of Internet Browsing

Over the last few days, I have been noticing an increase in posts on social media complaining about how this or that website isn’t working like it’s supposed to. If you’ve spent more than ten minutes on the web this is something we’ve all experienced (you do realize that the “www” part of a website address stands for World Wide Wait, right?).

First, let’s get some terms explained so everyone will understand.

  • URL – Uniform Resource Locator. This is what you see in the address bar of your browser. Such as “https://facebook.com”.
  • Internet Browser – There are many to choose from. Most Micro$oft Windows PCs will have Internet Explorer (also called IE), or the new (and terrible) Edge. Apple (MAC) machines come with Safari. Others include Firefox and Google’s Chrome. There are other browsers as well, that those are the bigger players.
  • Internet Cache – Also called Browsing History. When you visit a website, small portions of the site are kept on your local computer. This helps speed up subsequent visits to that website. For example, if you visit a certain website on a regular basis, let’s say Google, a copy of the Google logo may be stored on your PC so you don’t have to download it every time you visit. This was very helpful back in days of dial-up internet connections.
  • Cookies – Small pieces of information stored locally to help (but not always) with various aspects of web browsing. An example would be settings for the way you prefer to see news items. Some websites allow you to customize what you see when you get to their page. Amazon does this. Even though I do not have my password saved on my PC for Amazon, when I open the site it still has my name and preferences stored. But to purchase anything, I have to enter my password. So cookies can be good. But just like real cookies can hurt you (see expanding waistline in the dictionary), not all cookies are helpful. Some track your browsing history, allowing for targeted ads to appear on other websites.  Ever search for a product then see ads for that product (or competitors similar item) on another site? That’s tracking cookies at work.

In my 20+ years of IT experience, I have found that 75% or so of all “the webpage won’t load” or “why can’t I see this part of the webpage” problems are not the fault of the website itself, your internet provider, or the fact the Mercury is in retrograde. It’s almost always something corrupt in your cache.

So what to do?  Well, if you’re using a Windows PC the very first thing you should whenever there is something wonky (very technical term) happens, is reboot the PC. In reality, Windows PCs should be rebooted about once a week. Rebooting a Windows PC fixes a great many problems. And they really should be wiped cleaned and reinstalled yearly. But that’s another post. Mac and Linux users usually don’t have that problem.

If the problem is internet related, then you should clear your cache, or browsing history. I won’t go into details on how to do that. There are way too many variables for me to cover, and I can’t be responsible if you make a mistake and instead launch nuclear missiles. Hey, stranger things have happened.

Follow this link to Lifewire for some basic instructions. They have better lawyers, you know, just in case those missiles start flying.

If that doesn’t seem to help try this. A wonderful site Down For Everyone Or Just Me? has a great tool to see if an internet site is truly down. Just enter the website (i.e. google.com) and hit the big blue “or just me?” and it’ll tell you if the site is hosed.  Quick question; you do know that words that are (usually) blue and underlined are clickable? And they’ll take you to another webpage? Right? Just making sure…

All these tips will work no matter what kind of PC you’re using.  Folks on mobile devices (phones or tablets) may have different steps to take.  Google whatever Operating System your mobile device is running (only two big choices here – IOS for iPhones and such, or Android for damn near everything else) and your browser. It would be something like “clear cache IOS # Safari” or “clear cache Android # Chrome”. The “#”‘s stand for the version of your Operating System. If you’re not sure which version you’re running, you’ll have to Google that too.  We’d be here until the stars burn out going over all the different versions.

I hope this helps you in some small way. But I’m sure, like all tech notes, it’ll just leave you with more questions.  So feel free to ask questions in the comments below. It does require you to enter your email address, but I don’t keep track of any of that. It will write a cookie (remember those?) to your device so that it will remember you if and when you come back. You will come back, right? Please?  Of course, you can leave comments and questions on my social media, but I prefer you ask or comment here.  Links are below.

Peace,
B

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P.S. The jury is still out on whether or not Mercury being in retrograde effects internet traffic.