Benchmarks Online

Skip Navigation Links

Page One

Campus Computing

CITC Data Management Services

Computing Resources at UNT -Finding Your Way Around (Reprise)

Stormworm Trojan Threatens Campus

Today's Cartoon

RSS Matters

The Network Connection

Link of the Month

Helpdesk FYI

Short Courses

IRC News

Staff Activities

Subscribe to Benchmarks Online

Helpdesk FYI

By Jonathan "Mac" Edwards, Assistant Manager of the CITC Helpdesk

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 Internet.

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 this article.

Internet Explorer

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 page. 

Temporary Internet Files

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.

The Security/Privacy Tab

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.

Browser 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: 

  1. Go to Tools and select Internet Options
  2. Under the General Tab select Delete Cookies, Delete Files
  3. Under the Security and Privacy tab select either Default Level or move the slider to medium.
  4. Under the Advanced Tab select Restore Defaults.
  5. Hit Apply and then OK.

Finding your Browser Version

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


(1) Special thanks to


Originally published, September 2007 -- Please note that information published in Benchmarks Online is likely to degrade over time, especially links to various Websites. To make sure you have the most current information on a specific topic, it may be best to search the UNT Website - . You can also search Benchmarks Online - as well as consult the UNT Helpdesk - Questions and comments should be directed to


Return to top