How to Repair your Web Browser with a Clean Install
Recently, I was testing various add-ons (plugins and extensions) for my web browser. Afterwards, I noticed my browser would load very slowly with flickering and flashing on startup.
The delay was just enough to annoy me at every startup. I needed to take bold measures in the form of an advanced reinstall method. OK, enough preamble, let’s find out how to fully repair any popular web browser with a completely clean and new install.
Re-install Browser vs Optimizer Software Fix
The following procedure below helped me (eventually) find a fix to bring my web browser back to its’ speedy ways. Actually, it's even faster now thanks to the new PC optimizer I'm using - I wish I had found that before my browser problems, because when my browser slowed again, the Internet optimization module included with that optimizer suite performed an automatic fix in seconds. If you’re having trouble with your web browser, and you don't want to spend hours repairing it, I highly recommend Internet optimizer software - it really is great and now saves me a lot of time by fixing problems on the fly before I even notice them.
How to Fix your Browser with a Clean Install
If you are still considering a full re-install to solve your browser problems. Be aware, you will need to backup your bookmarks and other personal settings first. Just relax, take a deep breath and please read this entire page before you consider doing anything. You’ll probably want to bookmark this page before starting. Especially important, considering we will have to restart your PC while completing this process and you may have trouble finding this page again.
I may have been able to just delete the profile to solve my problem, but that procedure would lose all of my bookmarks and other customizations.
So, if I’m going to lose everything anyway's, I think it’s a better idea to rebuild the entire browser from scratch with a clean install, which will automatically include a new profile.
WARNING: Attempting a new web browser installation as discussed below will delete your current web browser profile. Although we suggest methods to backup your bookmarks, and to keep a list of your current plugins and addons, you will lose everything else, including saved passwords, cookies which may be used to allow web site settings to be saved, and any other customizations or options you have adjusted or set over time.
As per our Disclaimer within our Terms, you are proceeding at your own risk.
Get the Latest Version of your Web Browser
Start by downloading (but do NOT install yet) the newest version of your web browser to prepare for the full re-installation below.
Firefox Download from Mozilla.org
Google Chrome Download from Google.com
Safari Download from Apple.com
Opera Download from Opera.com
Microsoft Edge is available within the Windows Update module. * Read Below.
Just save the file to your Desktop or where you usually place your downloads, preferable in a folder that is easy to locate like My Documents, etc.
* Microsoft Edge users: Please READ the following completely: All Microsoft Edge updates are usually installed by default within the Windows Update module. However, upgrading to a newer EDITION through Windows Update may require action on your part. View by going to Control Panel and selecting Windows Update. Also take note that Edge's integration within Windows will make many of the following steps moot.
Backup Your Web Browser Bookmarks
Well, I usually backup my browser Bookmarks regularly, but after checking, the last time I backed up was 6 months ago. I've been so busy – it’s made me lazy. :-) That would have been a nightmare if I had lost all of those great web sites I visited in the last half-year. So let’s backup our Bookmarks before they magically disappear from a Windows crash or another malfunction at the junction.
Just to recap, we are backing up our bookmarks because we will NOT be saving our profile when we uninstall next time. This way, we can begin with a fresh new install that will hopefully bring our favorite web browser back into our good graces.
You should regularly backup your bookmarks anyway's. My preference, I save them on a USB thumb drive AND on my hard drive. The USB stick then gets placed into my fire safe because as you know, bookmarks are gold.
Backup Firefox Bookmarks
You can easily backup your bookmarks in Firefox by clicking on the Bookmarks tab in the File Menu. Then click on Show All Bookmarks to bring up the Library window. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+Shift+B to bring up the window.
Next, click on Import and Backup. Then click Backup and a window will pop up. The default location is the Desktop, but you can browse around and put it anywhere, if you wish. It may be more convenient to keep it on your Desktop for now. The file name should be automatically set for today’s date, so just leave it and press Save at the bottom right.
Backup Google Chrome Bookmarks
Click on the Wrench Icon in the top right of the Google Chrome browser and hover over Bookmarks, then click on Bookmark Manager. Alternatively, click together the keys Ctrl+Shift+O to open the manager.
Then click on Organize, and click Export bookmarks to HTML file. Choose a file location and click Save. Notice the bookmark file name contains today's date for convenience.
Backup Safari Bookmarks
Make sure you have Show Menu Bar turned on within the options. Click on the tab named File within the Menu Bar near the top. Then go down to and click on Export Bookmarks. Choose a location to save your bookmarks and then click on Save.
Backup Opera Bookmarks
Click on the Opera logo at the very top left of the Opera browser window and go down to Settings - OR if the Menu Bar is open, click on File. Then go to Import and Export. Then click on Export Opera Bookmarks. Type in a name such as opera-bookmarks and then click Save. Note: Make sure you do NOT select Export Bookmarks as HTML.
Backup Microsoft Edge Bookmarks
Microsoft Edge definitely has the most drawn out process to save Favorites which is why I usually just save my Favorites folder (the one with the star) within my user profile at:
Windows 10, 8, 7 and Vista - C: / Users / YourUserName /
Windows XP - C: / Documents and Settings/ YourUserName /
Record Your Plugins, Extensions, and Other Settings
If you have any plugins, extensions, or addons that you added to your web browser, now is the time to make note of them so you can re-install them afterwards. If you don't know what these things are, you should probably just skip to the next step. Open up your web browser and go to the Plugins, Addons, and/or extensions and write down all of the ones you will want to install again.
Personally, I don’t want to save any of the addon files because they may corrupt my new browser installation. You should only consider addons if they are truly needed, since many are programmed by third parties with no connection to the web browser developer. Personally, I believe my best chance at fixing my web browser is with absolutely no plugins installed. After a clean browser install proves successful, then you can slowly try your favorite plugins, one at a time, to see if they cause any future problems.
Uninstall your Current Web Browser Completely
WARNING: Proceed at your own risk. Please note that your browser history, passwords, and every other setting will be completely deleted with the new installation method we are going to use.
Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer Users: You can NOT uninstall the Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer browsers in this manner - use Windows Update for any updates and upgrades. If you want to uninstall Internet Explorer in Windows 10, 8, and 7 (Vista and XP should be similar) you will have to go to Control Panel / Programs and Features / Turn Windows Features On or Off and uncheck Internet Explorer, heed the warnings and follow the instructions provided by Windows.
Uninstall Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera
Finally, we’re ready to uninstall. Go to the Windows Control Panel. For Windows 10, 8, 7 and Vista, click on Programs and Features. Windows XP users will need to click on Add/Remove Programs. Scroll through until you find your web browser. Select it and click Uninstall.
The browser uninstall box should pop up, and now is your last chance. Did you backup your bookmarks? Did you record your addon list and any other browser settings (privacy, security settings, etc.) you have grown fond of?
Most browsers will offer similar options to do a complete uninstall including profiles and bookmarks, during the uninstall. For example, with Firefox you place a check in the box that states, Remove my Firefox personal data and customizations. After checking it, you'll receive a message containing a similar warning that I just gave you above. Please read the warning carefully. Am I beginning to nag? Sorry, I just don’t want to hear from anyone who asks what happened to their history, passwords, bookmarks, and other settings.
After clicking Uninstall is the browser completely removed from my system? No, not really. There will probably still be residual traces in the Program Files folder and the Windows Registry. I wouldn't worry too much about the residual leftover data.
While possibly not necessary, it’s always good form to restart after any uninstall. That way, if there are any locked files in use, they can be fully removed or reset during the restart. This will also provide the cleanest possible state to re-install our web browser moving forward.
New Install of your Web Browser
Remember way back in Step 1, I told you to download the new version of your favorite web browser? Well, it’s finally time to find that file and open it up. The install procedure may change over time, so I’ll just say to follow the on-screen prompts and set your preferences using your discretion. When your newly installed web browser starts up, it should be fast and problem free.
Now we need to configure our web browser back to the way we had it. Redo all of our settings and fully optimize the browser for the fastest possible speed. On to the next step.
How to Import Bookmarks
Now it’s time to import your bookmarks that you saved in Step 2. Don’t forget to backup your bookmarks on another drive (USB or other) in case your hard drive fails. Or you could use an Internet bookmarking service like Google's online bookmarks and you wouldn’t have to worry about backing up – but I prefer to store mine locally.
Import Firefox bookmarks - Open Firefox and click on the Bookmarks tab in the Menu Bar. Then click on Show All Bookmarks to bring up the Library window. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+Shift+B to bring up the window.
Now click on Import and Backup. Go down to Restore and move to the right and go down to click on Choose File. A window will open and you will need to navigate to your saved bookmark file and click on it. Then click on Open. You will be prompted with a warning that it will replace all of your current bookmarks. Just click OK and your old trusted bookmarks will be back in their rightful place.
Import Google Chrome bookmarks - Go to the Wrench Icon in the top right of Google Chrome and mouse over Bookmarks, then click on Bookmark Manager. Alternatively, click together the keys Ctrl+Shift+O to open the manager.
Then click on Organize, and click Import bookmarks from HTML file. Select the bookmark file you saved in Step 2 and click Open. The bookmarks may show up in a folder named Imported, but you can drag and drop your favorites to other locations, or rename the folder, or create other folders, if you wish.
Import Safari bookmarks - Make sure you have Show Menu Bar turned on within the options. Click on the tab named File within the Menu Bar near the top. Then go down to and click on Import Bookmarks. Select the bookmark file you saved in Step 2 and click Open. A folder will appear that reads imported-WITH-TODAY'S-DATE. You can move the bookmarks to other folders, or create new folders, drag and drop to the bookmark bar, or just leave it as is.
Import Opera bookmarks - Click on the Opera logo at the very top left of the Opera browser window and go down to Settings - OR if the Menu Bar is open, click on File. Then go to Import and Export. Then click on Import Opera Bookmarks. Find the file you saved in Step 2 and select it, then press Open. A message will pop up stating how many entries have been imported. Click OK and you're finished. To manage your bookmarks in Opera, go to the Opera Logo options, go to Bookmarks, and click on Manage Bookmarks. Alternatively, click the key combo Ctrl+Shift+B to open the bookmark manager. Move, rename, and adjust your bookmarks as desired.
Import Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer bookmarks -
Really only helpful if you did a full re-install of Windows, or you turned off Internet Explorer within Control Panel / Programs and Features / Turn Windows Features On or Off. Copy your saved Favorites folder (the one with the yellow star) that you saved in Step 2, then just navigate back to your profile and replace the Favorites folder at:
Windows 10, 8, 7 and Vista - C: / Users / YourUserName /
Windows XP - C: / Documents and Settings/ YourUserName /
Fine-tune Settings and Add Plugins
If you saved your settings and plugins from Step 3, now is the time to adjust them back to your liking. I recommend adding only the plugins and extensions that you deem necessary directly from the your web browser's official web site. Remember, too many plugins will slow you down and possibly cause unpredictable behavior. If you have a few preferred customizations such as turning off automatic updates (not recommended) now is the time to do it. Finished? Maybe you are but I'm not - there's one more thing I like to do to make my Internet surfing faster - keep reading for more info.
Just a side note: At this stage in the process, I thought I was finished but while my browser seemed OK, it did not seem as fast as before. Then I realized that I had forgotten to run the Internet Optimizer function of my PC and Internet optimization suite. This is something I like doing to get the absolute most out of my PC and Internet – it’s what I do and it’s actually why this site exists in the first place. So, I’ve added the last step for the sake of completeness in showing you exactly how I finished up my browser installation with an optimization for maximum browser speed.
Internet and Browser Optimization (Optional)
To get the maximum possible speed out of my web browser and the Internet, I use a PC optimizer with a built-in Browser/Internet optimizer. After I clicked a few buttons to optimize, it finally happened. My web browser was back to being extremely quick and efficient.
What does an Internet and Browser Optimizer do? Faster web surfing, emailing, file downloading, gaming, video streaming, and anything else you do online will be faster and much smoother when you use an Internet optimizer.
My Journey to a Web Browser Fix
I use a variety of good browsers, including all of the ones listed in Step 1 on this page. It's important to me that I experience my web site with all of the popular browsers to ensure maximum compatibility. Recently, I was getting a little too excited over all of the Firefox plugins available and started going through a multitude of them. Then something happened that slowed my Firefox browser down to a crawl.
At first I tried to disable addons. After disabling and finally uninstalling all of my Firefox plugins and extensions, there was no improvement and I still had a slow web browser. Hmm, maybe the Firefox core or my profile became corrupt from one of the addons? So, off I go to quickly re-install Firefox.
Then I tried a quick reinstall and it did NOT work. After downloading the latest iteration of Firefox from mozilla.org, I proceeded to uninstall Firefox. When asked if I wish to keep my Profile settings, which includes my very valuable and lengthy bookmark list, I obviously chose to keep my profile. After reinstall with my profile still intact, the same problem, slow startup with the browser window flickering and super slow surfing speed.
Was my browser profile corrupt? Well, I disabled all of my plugins and extensions. Reinstalled Firefox, but I did not remove the profile, and the flickering problem with slow browser speed persisted. Hmm, maybe my profile became corrupt from one of the addons? The answer appears obvious now. Either erase my Firefox profile or start with a fresh clean install and do NOT choose to keep my profile when I uninstall this time. The latter sounds like the most thorough solution to fore go any problems in the future. However, I am going to take it a step further and completely erase Firefox from my system before the new installation.
A completely new install including a new profile is what was needed in this scenario. Now my Firefox web browser is back to super-high speed thanks to the new install. I hope this article helps you fix any slow web browser problems you may have. Thanks for reading.
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