So there I was, with two identical Dell OptiPlex GX280s in front of me, both running Windows XP Pro @ service pack 3, a couple of free hours on my hands, and a hankering to try out the new Internet Explorer 8.
Both machines were still running IE6 as the primary browser and Firefox as the secondary – I tried IE7 a few different times and never liked it – , but several other people who used these machines (they are public business center machines at an apartment complex) had been asking for the upgrade so I figured what the hell, surely they’ve worked out the bugs from IE7 by now…
Machine 1 – downloaded and installed Internet Explorer via Microsoft Update. A few minutes and one reboot later, IE8 was up and running. Did some minor configuration to bring up the tabs and dump the default search engine and then took it for a test drive. Aside from some toolbar clutter, it was fine – nice and speedy, started almost instantly, new tabs opened without any noticible delay. I liked it….well, about as much as a Firefox guy can like Internet Explorer….
Machine 2 – just as with machine 1, I downloaded and installed Internet Explorer via Microsoft Update, installed, rebooted then double-clicked the IE icon on the quick launch bar. Then I waited. And waited. IE8 finally opened after maybe 10-15 seconds, but then I got ‘Connecting……” on the first tab. A good 15 seconds after that my default home page finally loaded. I clicked on a new tab, same thing, “Connecting……” for 10-15 seconds and then my home page.
I double-checked my installation, making sure there wasn’t some oddball toolbar or other add-on left over that could be causing trouble. Cleared the cache and temp dirs, uninstalled/reinstalled IE8, ran virus/spyware/malware checks, reset internet explorer settings, all with no improvement.
This machine had been hit with a virus a couple of weeks back, so I was starting to lean towards the possibility of a compromised file somewhere causing all the trouble. Just as I was digging around for the restore disks, it dawned on me that the only difference between the two machines was that I had installed a popular freeware spyware removal program on this one a few weeks back. Even though it was no longer installed, I wondered if its ‘innoculation’ feature may have left something behind that could be causing these new problems.
I googled, and found my answer.
It turns out that Spybot Search and Destroy, and possibly some other spyware/malware removal/prevention programs, load up IE8 with a large number of sites in the restricted zone, which in turn slows IE8 to a crawl on startup and when opening new tabs.
The fix? Remove them.
In an attempt to remove all the sites – and there were a lot – all in one shot, I reinstalled Spybot and then uninstalled it again, but the sites still remained in the restricted sites list. Before resorting to manual removal, I hit google again to see if there was a quick way to remove all the sites from the restricted list at once. The answer came in the form of an .inf file called deldomains.inf , which, as the name sort of implies, removes all domains from the browser’s restricted zone.
So, here are the steps:
- Download deldomains.inf from the author’s web site
(Right-click and select: Save Target As)
- Locate and right-click the deldomains.inf file you just downloaded, and in the context menu, click ‘install’
If you get an ‘Unknown Publisher’ warning, click ‘Open’
If everything worked properly – and there’s very little that can go wrong with this procedure – your restricted sites list will be empty and your installation of IE8 shold now be flying right along with no more delays or high CPU usage.
I found something else over at Ed Bott’s site that has helped some people get their Internet Explorer 8 installation running up to speed:
Ed Bott: IE8 slow? Maybe this tweak will help
Update 28-March: As I said in the original intro to this post, I was reluctant to publish this tweak, because I have absolutely no explanation for why it should work. If someone else had posted this, I would have assumed it was snake oil and would have been extremely skeptical. As skeptical as Rafael Rivera, even.
Actxprxy.dll is one of the core libraries for Internet Explorer (along with a few others such as Urlmon.dll and Mshtml.dll). If it’s not properly registered, IE won’t work at all. And re-registering it should never be necessary except in extreme circumstances.
Having said all that, I can only point to the experience I reported in the post linked below, which has since been confirmed by others in comments and e-mails. Are they all experiencing placebo effects? That’s possible, I guess. It’s also possible that some third-party software or add-on is somehow screwing up this DLL and its associated registry settings. I have contacted some engineers at Microsoft to see if they can shed light on the issue and will follow-up after I hear from them. more…..