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Misconfiguration in IE causing search delays

I have a Toshiba satellite notebook and use Windows XP as my OS, Bellsouth DSL as my ISP and IE as my browser. Whenever I use Google as my search engine, after typing in a subject to be searched and clicking on the "Google search" button, there is a long delay before my search results are displayed (10-20 seconds). I often have to click 2-3 times until I get a "not responding" message before the search will execute. Also my directional buttons (forward page, back page) have the same delay. I am able to use Netscape with no problem. I was always able to use IE with no problem until recently. I have run a spyware program and Norton Antivirus programs with no improvement.

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The problem may lie in a subtle misconfiguration in IE that not many people run into a lot, but which does affect your connectivity in some cases. In IE, look under Tools | Internet Options | Connections | LAN Settings, and make sure the "Automatically detect settings" box is unchecked. When checked, this option forces IE to look for a local web proxy -- which doesn't exist most of the time, and is a giant waste of effort on the computer's part.

Another thing to look into is the system's HOSTS file, a plaintext file in the directory %SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\etc. This file holds a list of quick-lookup values for network addresses. If there is an entry for google.com (or any google.com subdomains) in there, delete them and save the file; the references may have been installed by third-party programs and may not be valid.

This was first published in September 2004

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