Internet Explorer 8 has a nifty feature that allows you to track the load times for installed browser add-ins. It’s a useful troubleshooting tool when trying to figure out why new tabs take too long to load.
Today, I fired up an IE8 window in a virtual machine running Windows 7 Enterprise and was puzzled by how long it took for a new IE8 tab to load. We’re talking five seconds or more (sometimes much more) with the word "Connecting" appearing in the tab title and the browser essentially locked up.
What the hell was going on? First thing I noticed was a Google toolbar. I don’t remember installing it, although this machine is specifically for dogfooding software that I don’t trust to run on my regular PC, so I suppose I might have done it deliberately, or it might have piggybacked on when I installed something else (*cough*, Adobe Flash, *cough*). Anyway, when I disabled the Google Toolbar, page loads returned to times measured in fractions of a second, which is fine with me. I don’t care whether a tab loads in .32 sec or .73 sec, to be honest.
That inspired me to take a look at what other add-ons were loading. Click Tools, Manage Add-ons to open the dialog box shown here. Yikes! That total is about 10 seconds just for the first four items on the list.
The good news is that those numbers don’t represent everyday performance. Presumably they represent worst-case performance. Just to be on the safe side, though, I disabled everything using the IE8 Reset button, uninstalled Google Toolbar, and then started restoring add-ons one at a time. Minus the Google Toolbar, everything is just fine. New tabs load in roughly 0.6 sec (I say roughly because I can’t click the stopwatch buttons fast enough to be more precise than that).
And given that I never use the Google Toolbar, I won’t be reinstalling it—unless it’s by accident, when it comes along for the ride with something else.