The Basics of a Web Browser
Your Web-browser can be one of the most important tools on your computer.
A web browser can be defined as “a software application that enables
a user to display and interact with text, images, and other
information typically located on a Web page at a website on the
World Wide Web or a local area network.” (1)
Simply put, a web browser is what allows you to interact with the
In this article we will mainly be focusing on Internet Explorer, simply
because it is the most common browser. That is not to say that
there are not other very viable options available. I will
touch on at least one Internet Explorer alternatives at the end of
When you open up IE (short for Internet
Explorer), go to Tools, and then select Internet Options. This
will bring up a new window, with the General Tab selected.
The General Tab
The first option you see is Home Page. Here you can specify the
homepage you would like, or the page that first appears when you
launch Internet Explorer. You can type in an address or simply
select Use Current to have your current webpage set as your home
Your computer stores a copy of the files downloaded (html, images, etc.)
from pages you visit. This allows your computer to
access web pages faster, as only new content needs to be downloaded.
In the same vein your computer stores “cookies,” which “are used by
Web Servers to differentiate users and to maintain data related to
the user during navigation.” (1)
Here you can easily adjust how long you want your computer to remember
what sites you have visited. You can also choose to Clear History,
this will remove all of the items stored within your history folder.
Both of these tabs control how “open” or “secure” the internet is when
you browse it. Like with most anything though extremes can be
bad. Too high, and you will not be able to access many
internet sites. Too low, and you are at risk for malicious web
apps. Generally a happy medium seems to work best, and we generally
suggest medium or default as the preferred setting.
The Advanced Tab
The Advanced Tab has all sorts of wonderful and advanced settings.
Many times an incorrect setting can create plenty of frustrating
issues. I believe in most cases this is a tab best left alone,
except in the case of the Restore Defaults Button.
Troubleshooting in IE
Your Web Browser is a marvelous and wonderful piece of technology, but
sometimes it can feel very much like a piece of something else.
When you are having trouble accessing a site, or having issues with
content in a site many times it can be beneficial to go through a
quick rundown of the following steps:
Go to Tools and select Internet
Under the General Tab select
Delete Cookies, Delete Files
Under the Security and Privacy
tab select either Default Level or move the slider to medium.
Under the Advanced Tab select
Hit Apply and then OK.
If you need to call a support desk for help, having your browser version
can be very helpful. To find this simply go to Help (alt + H),
and select About Internet Explorer.
The first thing you should see in the new window that appears is
generally a graphic, and underneath that Version: 6.00.29 (the
numbers will depend on your version)
If All Else Fails
Try a different browser. IE may be the most widely used browser,
but that does not mean there are not very good alternatives.
At the Helpdesk we most often suggest Firefox as an alternate
browser. It is not uncommon for a website to have issues with
IE, but no issues with Firefox, and visa versa. You can
download Firefox at
thanks to www.wikipedia.org
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