Diagnosing common browser issues and problems
Browsers: how you see the internet
Diagnosing browser issues can sometimes be overwhelming. Especially when browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome both introduce new versions on a regular basis.
Many times site issues can be remedied using a few troubleshooting steps. This article outlines some of the most common steps to try.
Finding system specifications and making sure everything is up to date
For some users just finding the web browser version they are using can be intimidating.
There are several sites that can help you track down this information quickly.
System Details is a site that will provide you with the following information:
- Internet Connection: IP address, ISP, IP Location, Speed, and type
- Web Browser: User Agent, Browser Name/Version, Render Engine
- Operating system: OS Name, Architecture
For most trouble-shooting you will mainly need to know the operating system (OS) and browser name and version. In the results screen shot (see Figure 1.1 below), you can see the tested system has Windows 7 as the OS and is using Internet Explorer 9.
Determine the browser version
Finding the browser version using About
You an also find the browser version from the browser itself. Make sure your browser is running. For each browser you select the menu and "About.."
Chrome: Settings, then About Google Chrome (Figures 2.1 and 2.2)
Firefox: upper left Firefox menu, then Help, and About Firefox. (Figures 3.1 and 3.2)
Internet Explorer: Tools, and then About Internet Explorer (Figures 4.1 and 4.2)
Keeping browsers up to date
Internet Explorer is updated via "Windows Update" on Windows machines, so you can run a check to see if their is a new revision available from Microsoft in "Windows Update". If you are using earlier versions of Windows, you may want to consider a 3rd party browser like Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox as Microsoft has cut support for Internet Explorer 9 and 10 for older operating systems including Windows XP. You can find what version of Internet Explorer your operating system supports on the Wikipedia page for Internet Explorer.
Updating other browsers
Chrome, Firefox, and Safari all have services that check for newer versions. These services are installed with the browser.
Try to keep your browser updated to the latest stable version for your operating system. In general, using beta or nightly browser builds can be problematic as they have not been fully tested.
Google maintains a blogspot blog for Chrome releases. You can check it to see what is the latest stable version for your browser. Look for the stable release and not the developer or beta releases.
You can determine the latest stable version of Firefox by using the main download page here.
Apple no longer creates new versions of Safari for Windows, but you can check for new versions using the OS X Software Update program.
Another notable, yet lesser known and used, browser is Opera. Opera is free, cross-platform, and one of the most standard compliant browsers. It can be a good browser to add to any machine so you can test issues you encounter with other browsers.
Keeping Adobe Flash updated
Some sites, including HubPages, require Adobe Flash in order for some functions to work. Since their is no universal Flash plugin for all browsers, keeping Flash updated can be a task unto itself. Luckily, Adobe provides a site to check the version of Flash you have installed (Figure 5.1). It will show you the version you have installed, the latest version supported by your browser, and the latest available for other browsers as well. Be aware that some browsers have Flash plug-ins while other include their own Flash plug-in as part of the browser (Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 for example).
Now that we have made sure our browser and Flash are the latest available version, we can try some common steps to troubleshoot problems with web content.
Clearing the browser cache
Web browsers keep some local content cached (stored) on your computer in order to reduce page load times. Unfortunately, this content can sometimes lead to problems.
Below you will find links for clearing the cache for all major browsers.
If updating your browser and Flash, and clearing your cache don't address the issue, then there are still a few things to try.
- Restart your browser
- Restart your computer
- Use a different web browser
- Reset your network hardware including your cable modem or DSL modem as well as any wired or wireless network hardware.
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