Often, Internet Explorer will freeze for a few seconds before loading. This can also happen when opening a new tab. You’ll see this on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and even Windows 7. It will happen under IE6, IE7, and IE8. Occasionally, these delays can even be minutes long, giving the impression that IE has frozen. Often, you’ll see IE sit and do nothing while it says ‘Connecting…’.
It’s at this time you typically start screaming and throwing things, saying “Fucking IE is entirely unusable. Why the hell aren’t I using Firefox?'”. Of course, with IE still frozen, you can’t download Firefox, so you’re stuck there muttering to yourself until IE decides to quick screwing around, at which point you forget about Firefox and just go do your work.
There’s a simple fix. In Internet Explorer (once it actually loads), go to Tools, Options, Connections:
Click LAN Settings, then clear the ‘Automatically detect settings’ checkbox:
That should do it.
If you’re still having trouble, your problem is almost certainly caused by an add-on (Adobe Flash, a toolbar, the Office Research add-on, anti-virus add-ons, etc.). To check this, try running Internet Explorer with No Add-ons. You’ll find a shortcut for this on your Start menu. IE8 has a great Manage Add-ons feature that you might want to play with, too; you can enable and disable add-ons here; even if you’re not having problems, disabling add-ons you don’t use can improve performance dramatically:
Unfortunately, one of the biggest causes of crashes, hangs, poor performance, and security vulnerabilities when it comes to web browsers is an Add-on that’s pretty tough to live without: Adobe Flash. Until Adobe gets their act together, there’s not much you can do about this one.