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Many people say that my Internet speed also depends on the browser that I'm using.

Is this so? If yes, how does it increase the speed?

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4 Answers

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Almost never. Browsers can change the rendering speed of a web page (different javascript engines etc) but they cannot change your bandwidth.

Some browsers support opening multiple connections at once to load a page faster, but this does not generally change your speed in a significant way.

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If you measure speed by "how long it takes between typing CNN.com and being able to read the stories" - the browser affects the speed significantly. You could call one perceived speed and the other the data rate. –  RedGrittyBrick Aug 17 '11 at 10:05
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The browser you use can affect the speed at which you can use the Internet, but not your overall download speed. Ultimately, you're limited by your bandwidth and the bandwidth of the sites you visit.

Some browsers are better at managing how pages are downloaded and displayed. They can prevent delays caused by bulky websites (lots of pictures, Flash, etc.) or opening multiple tabs. Sometimes loading complex sites causes the web browser to freeze, preventing you from viewing anything for several seconds or more. From my experience Internet Explorer 9 and Google Chrome load sites quickly and prevent different tabs from interfering with each other.

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Your internet speed is dictated by your network hardware: cable/dsl/fios modem, routers, switches, and Ethernet cards. A web browser is just software that utilizes that bandwidth.

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It depends on your definition of “speed”. I suppose if you used a browser that did not support compression, then it could indeed slow your system down, or conversely, by using one that does support compression, it would speed it up relative to the older browser.

For example, most web-serving software supports GZipping HTML files before sending them, but then the client (browser) of course needs to be able unzip the GZ file to get the HTML file out. On the one hand, sending less data is faster, on the other, decompressing lots of little files is slower. Generally speaking, since a CPU is orders of magnitude faster than a network, compressing the web pages will almost certainly result in loading pages faster.

That said, this was more relevant to the “Web 1.0” which was populated predominantly by plain-text .HTML files, and some small graphics files. These days, everybody’s and their dog’s webpages have tons of CSS, JavaScript, Flash, and giant pictures. While the CSS and JavaScript files can compress, Flash and large pictures still have to be sent as is, so compression doesn’t really gain you too much, and so, there’s not much else a browser can do for you.


For the sake of completeness;

It is conceivable that a browser could tweak your network settings, but that generally be would be a naughty browser indeed.

Also, it could also use a proxy server instead of a direct connection, which could speed things up by using a local ISP cache instead of fetching all files from scratch, however unless you are—foolishly—using a browser from a CD that your ISP gave you, you will usually have to set that up yourself since there’s no way for the browser to know which proxy server to use. (Yes, you can have different browsers using different proxies.)

Finally, as was mentioned, they can also render the page faster which is technically “speed”, and they can also be configured to skip images, plugins, etc. which would also speed things up and even reduce bandwidth (for the maximum speed and minimum bandwidth, use a text browser—ah the good old days!) :-D

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