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What are the best ways to improve the speed at which webapps and websites work for me, from the users end - and without disabling functionality, if possible?

After opening heaps of tabs in Chrome, it often starts to lag to the point where a tab takes more than 5 seconds to display after clicking the tab. I am running Windows 7 x64 with 4gb of ram, so I don't see what the problem would be.

I was wondering whether a quad core cpu upgrade from my 3.6 GHz dual-core would be beneficial, or whether an SSD would help? I am pretty sure that an SSD would be the most help, but I would like to hear from your experiences.

I believe this is better asked here as it relates directly to user experience when using web applications, and improving performance in the browser is different to improving general computer performance.

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I see this as an off-topic question. You ask about hardware. Saying "web apps" in your question could easily be replaced with "Microsoft word" for instance. –  Rebecca Chernoff Jul 17 '10 at 14:00
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I think this quesions would be better on superuser –  DoNotInstall Jul 17 '10 at 14:19
    
As I had said, I believe this would be better here because there are specific things you can do for webapps, for example enabling Google Gears mode to cache all the required files, and using http pipelining to optimize http performance. If there are more votes to close, I am happy to vote for it as well, however I would like to hear what others think. –  tobeannounced Jul 17 '10 at 14:22
    
Whoever is down-voting needs to explain their reasoning . The point of a down vote is for unclear questions or not useful questions. If the question is off-topic vote it as off-topic stop abusing the down vote. –  phwd Jul 17 '10 at 14:29
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I'm in debate on whether or not this questions belongs on this site, however I feel like it's an honest query, and when in doubt, I think our default response should be to be answer the question as opposed to down voting, or saying it is off topic, without suggestion an appropriate forum in which to repost. - Also I agree with phwd - explain your down votes please. –  mike the mike Jul 17 '10 at 20:24
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3 Answers 3

Using LocalLoad will stop the amount of HTTP requests being generated for common JavaScript libraries (if webmasters continue adopting the mark-up).

Disabling phishing/malware detection and turning off DNS prefetching helps when you reach the extreme tab numbers (less look-ups per page).

Using FlashBlock and only enabling Flash for items you need.

Running everything through Privoxy (and then optionally Squid on another box) will keep your request sizes down, and stops that horrible "pausing" in Chrome.

Finally making sure your TCP/IP stack has low TTLs and a high number of open connections (preferably with a big initial RAM allocation) will help. The reason for the low TTL is so things can timeout faster - a necessity when you are "pushing the boat out" with regards to open tabs. Whereas the big initial RAM allocation on connections means that you will max out your RAM usage in advance and stop RAM fragmentation on the HTTP buffers.

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FlashBlock is always good to have (or ClickToFlash if you're using Safari on OS X) –  extraneon Jul 19 '10 at 17:18
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I'm in debate on whether or not this questions belongs on this site, however I feel like it's an honest query, and when in doubt, I think our default response should be to be answer the question as opposed to down voting, or saying it is off topic, without suggestion an appropriate forum in which to repost.

Answer:

TBA - There are a number of things you can do to "speed up" web applications, however the majority of them need to be done on the host end, although with advent of extensions individual apps may have options that will allow you to decrease load on your system, and increase performance.

Depending on the web-app they may have specific plug'ins for the browser that will speed things up, but that would be on a case by case basis. A few examples: http://imo.im has a chrome plugin that allows you to use the web-app even if it isn't open. Digg.com has extensions and smart bookmarks that allow you to use the functionality of the site without visiting the site and loading the pages into your computers memory. Even Google has a toolbar which will keep you up to date on whether or not you have new messages, so you don't need to keep Gmail loaded into memory.

Check for Chrome Extensions: https://chrome.google.com/extensions/?hl=en

Check for Firefox Extensions: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/?browse=featured

You mentioned Google Gears - which I believe is being "dumped". Besides the obvious "speed up your computer" options, your only universal option for speeding up web applications is to get a better/faster/more stable internet connection. Using a better or different browser may speed things up depending upon the application, but that would vary by app for the most part.

From the host side, there are a number of ways to speed up a web application, entire forums, books, blogs, sites have been dedicated to the subject. A few notable options that the host can choose to implement are: Caching, Optimizing code, Optimizing data calls/data structure, load balancing accross multiple servers or improving the host hardware (servers, etc), even things like switching away from "heavy" plug-ins such as flash would benefit their users experience.

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Oftentimes, the biggest slowdown comes from fancy flash advertisements. I use my hosts file to block the majority of flash ads. This method also prevents the extra overhead of ad-blocking software and browser extensions.

I've been using the hosts file at http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm. The instructions appear Windows-specific at first glance, but in Ubuntu Linux I was able to simply copy from the text file provided.

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