Why Are Some Website Pages Slower To Load?

Why do some websites take a long time to load a page? I usually stay on the same dozen or so websites, but sometimes I’ll click on a link, and the linked webpage usually slows down my computer to a crawl. My cookie settings are set to alert me if any website is requesting a cookie to which I’ll usually click not permitted. A good example is the MSN webpage. Whenever I click on a newstory that takes me to another MSN site or some other site entirely, it slows my computer.

A few possibilities:

  1. They’re just on slower servers which may occasionally get overloaded with visitors

  2. They’re loading ads from slow servers

  3. They’re loading fancy JavaScript, which can itself be on a slow server, or which can borrow code from a JavaScript “library” on a slow server

  4. There are DNS or other network issues somewhere between you and their server, because the Internet is a big network of a lot of smaller networks, and an issue somewhere along the way can slow you all down (the same way an accident somewhere on the highway might cause congestion all along it)

  5. They’re trying to load a fancy Flash animation (a video clip or advertisement or fancy infographic, perhaps)

  6. More than one of the above

If you download AdBlock for your browser, it will often speed things up considerably just because it blocks a lot of the slow-loading ads. You will also help break the Internet funding structure and make website owners cry.

It’s also possible they are complex pages with a lot of stuff on them that just run slowly because your computer isn’t too fast.

I’ve noticed that a lot of pages from HuffPo not only load slowly on my machine (Linux with Firefox), but even after they’ve fully loaded and displayed, they slow my machine down to a crawl and use 100% CPU time (sometimes on-and-off for 5-to-20 second intervals at a time). This happens even though I have JavaScript disabled in my browser. What might a web page contain that would do this?

HuffPo is the poster child for poor web programming. Really, really awful. I avoid following links to it like the plague.

They’ve known about the issue for many years and just don’t care.

weather.com is another site that is poorly written and slow to load (if it works at all).

I know that when I used a pointer to the SD homepage, it took a looong time to completely load.
Since I now bookmark the forums homepage, it loads instantly.

Is there a way to load pages like HuffPo (and like sites) in some sort of minimalist mode to speed it up and get rid of all the crap?

You can install a user-agent changing extension/addon for your browser. Make it pretend to be a mobile browser (iPhone, Android phone, etc.) and it’ll load the mobile version (m.huffpost.com). Couple that with AdBlock Plus for your browser and it should be much faster than the bog-standard version.

This trick works with other sites too, like Wikipedia, Gmail, Amazon, Yahoo, NYTimes, etc. Usually they just let you load the mobile version if you change the “www.” to “m.”. HuffPost doesn’t do that though: it’ll redirect you back to the bloated desktop site unless you spoof your user agent too. The mobile version is usually formatted differently, but the content is still mostly the same. And they skip most of the complex JavaScript and such that the desktop version uses. Gmail mobile, for example, brings up your inbox in less than half a second whereas the desktop version takes 3-4.


AdBlock Plus:

User agent spoofer:
Chrome: User-Agent Switcher for Chrome - Chrome Web Store

Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/override-user-agent/?src=search

I think it’s worth noting that currently Adblock, by default, doesn’t block all ads, just the kinds that tend to slow down your computer.

What exactly are HuffPo pages full of that causes this? On my browser (an older version of Firefox), I have JavaScript disabled most of the time. HuffPo pages tend to hog my CPU, even after they are (seemingly) fully loaded!

Without JavaScript running, and without any further loading and rendering going on, WTF are those HuffPo pages doing to gag my machine like that? Would it matter if I blocked CSS too (which I haven’t tried, having just thought of it).

In Firefox, if you push CTRL-SHIFT-I, go to the Network tab, and then load a HuffPost page, it will time all the loading elements for you. You can see what’s slowing it down. It looks like this.

Edit: And maybe try a different browser, like a newer version of Firefox or Chrome. Earlier versions of Firefox had performance issues, memory leaks, etc.

Sorry, I can’t find it. Ctrl-Shift-I (is that EYE or ELL? Anyway I tried both) does nothing, and I can’t find a menu item that matches what you describe. This is probably because I am using a way-old version of Firefox (3.6.9) and/or because I’m on a Linux system (which seems to have a slightly different Firefox than Windows has).

I’ve got a virtual machine around here somewhere with some newer stuff, maybe I’ll try it there and see what happens.

Note, though, as I said, viewing some HuffPo pages seems to hog my machine even after everything is supposedly finished downloading and rendering.

Yeah, that’s way old. That’s I as in Igloo. The first letter :slight_smile:

I don’t have an answer for you, but if you try the newer version, you might be able to diagnose it for yourself. HuffPost runs fine on my machine. Older Firefoxes have had memory leaks and other performance issues, but that’s really just a vague cop-out. You’d have to diagnose it on your own machine to know what’s causing it…

Is it just as slow on Chrome or another WebKit browser?

I downloaded Firefox 3.6 for Windows to play with it. All of HuffPost was extremely slow with JavaScript on. With JavaScript off it was very fast. Are you sure you have it disabled? (Edit: hopefully silly question, but you disabled JavaScript and not Java, right?)

And also, both Chrome and a more modern Firefox had no problem with HuffPost, even with JavaScript on. Their JS engines got a lot faster since the 3.6 days – that was 4 years ago.

If you only go to a few sites, and do so often, they are cached, so load faster than uncached sites.

Thanks, that’s a nice feature I wasn’t aware of.

Huffpost frontpage with adblock disabled does 654 GET requests, downloads 6.5 megabytes of data and completely finishes loading in about 40 seconds. I don’t see any slowdown, but I have a top notch computer. This could easily overwhelm an older computer.

With adblock enabled, it does 151 GET requests, 4,6 meg of data and about 9 seconds. Big difference

I haven’t visited HP previously but tried it after reading the above.
Loaded reasonably quickly, no intrusive ads. Faster than some, slower than others. Approximately four seconds.
Firefox for Linux Mint 20.0 on Linux Mint 16 "Petra " with Adblock Plus.

Correction to the above, it is Firefox 28, 1.0 for Linux Mint.