Web Browsers

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A browser is the most common "window" to the Internet. It's important to understand how to use them and how to secure them.


Below is a FAQ answering some of the most common questions about using & customizing the two most popular browsers; Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.


Contents

Where do I change the "Home" page?

Internet Explorer

  1. Click on Tools and click on Internet Options....
  2. In the section labeled Home page, enter the URL you would like to be your home page in the Address: field.

Netscape Navigator

  1. Click on Edit and select Preferences....
  2. In the left window, click on Navigator.
  3. In the Home Page section, enter the URL you would like to be your home page in the Location: field.


How can I completely remove my history and clear the address bar?

Internet Explorer

  1. Click on Tools and click on Internet Options....
  2. In the section labeled History on the right, click on the Clear History button.

Netscape Navigator

  1. Click on Edit and select Preferences....
  2. In the left window, click on the + next to Navigator to show more options. Click on History.
  3. Click the Clear History button.
  4. When that's complete, click the Clear Location Bar button.


Can I stop those annoying pop-up advertisements?

Yes. Usually, those pop-up advertisements use JavaScript. Disabling Java/JavaScript will prevent the advertisements from popping up, but you will also be unable to view anything else done in JavaScript. Below are instructions for disabling JavaScript

Internet Explorer

  1. Click on Tools and click on Internet Options....
  2. Click on the Security tab.
  3. Click on the Custom Level button. Locate Active Scripting in the list and click on Disable (or Prompt).

Netscape Navigator

  1. Click on Edit and select Preferences....
  2. On the left, click on Advanced.
  3. On the right, locate Enable Javascript and uncheck it.


How do I save an image found on a web page?

Internet Explorer

Right-click on the image you'd like to save and select Save Picture As....

Netscape Navigator

Right-click on the image you'd like to save and select Save Image (filename).


How do I set an image on a web page as my desktop?

Internet Explorer

Right-click on the image you'd like to save as your desktop picture and select Set as Background.

Netscape Navigator

  1. Save the image to your hard drive, as shown above.
  2. Right-click on your computer's desktop and select Properties.
  3. Click on the Desktop tab.
  4. Click the Browse button and locate the saved image.


Can I get web pages to load faster?

Yes. There are several ways to make your pages load faster. You can set your browser to save pages and images locally when you visit them (known as cache; see below for details), you can use our proxy server (see below] for details), or you can choose not to load images. Below are instructions for disabling automatic image downloads.

Internet Explorer

  1. Click on Tools and select Internet Options....
  2. Click on the Advanced tab.
  3. Scroll down until you find the Multimedia section and uncheck Show pictures.

Netscape Navigator

  1. Click on Edit and select Preferences....
  2. On the left, click on the + next to Privacy & Security to expand the options.
  3. Select Images. On the right, locate and select Do not load any images.


What are proxy servers?

An HTTP, or web, proxy server provides a gateway between your browser and the rest of the Internet. A proxy server replaces your identity (IP address, in this case) with its own, making it possible to browse more privately, securely, and offers additional features depending upon the proxy. XMission now provides three different web proxies. Information about each is available on our Proxy Help page.


How do I set up my browser to use XMission's proxy server?

All necessary details are available on our Proxy Help page.


Why, even though I know a web page has changed, do I see an old version?

There are three common reasons why you're not seeing an updated page. The first, and most common, is that the page is being cached locally on your computer. If you simply force the page to reload (IE: Ctrl+Refresh, NS: Shift+Reload), the updated page will appear. It's also possible that you have a proxy server, as explained above, configured and the copy of the page that the proxy server has cached is old. The resolutions to this are to either wait for the proxy server to update the cached file or to disable the proxy settings. Last, it's possible that you're working offline. If you have your cache set to do so, it will download pages while you're online and allow you to browse the complete cached copies while you're not connected to the Internet.


Can I force my browser to reload a web page every time I view it?

Yes. Below are instructions for setting your browser to download the entire page every time you view it.

Internet Explorer

  1. Click on Tools and select Internet Options....
  2. Click on the Settings button.
  3. Below Check for newer versions of stored pages:, select Every visit to the page.

Netscape Navigator

  1. Click on Edit and select Preferences.
  2. On the left, click on the + next to Advanced to expand the options. Select Cache.
  3. Below Compare the page in the cache to the page on the network, select Every time I view the page.


How can I empty my cache?

Internet Explorer

  1. Click on Tools and select Internet Options....
  2. Click on the Delete Files... button.

Netscape Navigator

  1. Click on Edit and select Preferences.
  2. On the left, click on the + next to Advanced to expand the options. Select Cache.
  3. Click the Clear Memory Cache and Clear Disk Cache buttons.


Where do I change my cache settings?

Internet Explorer

  1. Click on Tools and select Internet Options....
  2. Click on the Settings button.
  3. In the Temporary Internet Files Folder portion of the window, you can edit where the files are stored and how much space they're allowed to use.

Netscape Navigator

  1. Click on Edit and select Preferences.
  2. On the left, click on the + next to Advanced to expand the options.
  3. Select Cache. Here you can specify how much space the memory and disk cache can use.


What are cookies?

A cookie is a text-only HTTP header saved by your browser. It generally consists of the domain, path, and lifetime. If the lifetime is longer than your current visit, the cookie is stored, by your computer, to be accessed later. They're used to identify users, or mark them.

The aspect of cookies that bothers most Internet users is, although cookies can be used for perfectly helpful and valid reasons, they're often used to track a user's movements on the Web. This gives a company, such as doubleclick.com, a way to understand a person's preferences. This leads to demographics being sold to companies that provide personalized advertisements; a less than desirable result for most Internet users.


What kind of information does a cookie collect from me?

Cookies can store just about anything that would make a site individual and customizable. A cookie, however, can not contain any personal information that the server would otherwise have no access to, unless you enter that information yourself.


Is there a way I can choose what sites are allowed to set cookies?

Yes. You can have your browser prompt you any time a web site tries to set a cookie. You can either accept or deny the request, at that point. Below are instructions for changing your cookie settings to prompt.

Internet Explorer

  1. Click on Tools and select Internet Options....
  2. Click on the Privacy tab.
  3. Click on the Advanced button.
  4. Check Override automatic cookie handling.
  5. Select Prompt for both First-party Cookies and Third-party Cookies.

Netscape Navigator

  1. Click on Edit and select Preferences.
  2. On the left, click on the + next to Privacy & Security to expand the options.
  3. Select Cookies.
  4. Check Warn me before storing a cookie.


Can I disable cookies completely?

Yes. Keep in mind, however, that some web sites rely on cookies. Web sites such as online stores personalized start pages, and sites offering different information for people in different locations won't work properly. Below are instructions for completely disabling cookies.

Internet Explorer

  1. Click on Tools and select Internet Options....
  2. Click on the Privacy tab.
  3. Click on the Advanced button. Check Override automatic cookie handling.
  4. Select Block for both First-party Cookies and Third-party Cookies.

Netscape Navigator

  1. Click on Edit and select Preferences.
  2. On the left, click on the + next to Privacy & Security to expand the options.
  3. Select Cookies.
  4. Check Disable cookies.


What's a URL?

A URL, Uniform Resource Locator, is a standard way of referring to resources available electronically. The syntax of a URL is, typically, protocol://server/file path. For further technical information about URL's, please refer to RFC 1738.


What kind of URL's does my browser support?

Most browsers will support any standard-compliant URL. The main function that varies from browser to browser is particular protocol support. The protocol of a URL is what comes before the ://address. Current supported protocols are ftp, http, gopher, mailto, news, nntp, telnet, wais, file, and prospero. Each browser may handle certain protocols a little differently than others.

Just an example of how browsers can handle each protocol a little differently, we'll use ftp. In Internet Explorer, the url ftp://ftp.xmission.com shows two frames. The frame on the left shows server information and the server's welcome message. On the right is the file hierarchy shown the same way you would see files and folders on your own computer. In Netscape, however, the welcome message isn't displayed and the hierarchy is shown the same way a directory listing using http would appear.


How can I tell if a web page, such as an order form, is secure?

The easiest way to tell if a web page is secure, is to check the URL. If it begins with https, then it's using a signed security certificate to encrypt anything that goes through that page. Both Netscape and Internet Explorer show a locked padlock icon in the bottom right corner when a web page is secured. You should also check to be sure your browser supports high encryption. You can do this by going to Help and selecting About....

Although a web site may be secure, that doesn't necessarily mean that the information is secure after it reaches its destination. The web browser is only responsible for securely sending the information to where the form tells it to. This could be a text file on the web server, an email, or a database, to name a few. To find out if the information is held or transferred securely, you should contact the web site owner directly.


Why do I sometimes get a message saying there's a problem with the security certificate?

Occasionally, you'll come across a site, https://mail.xmission.com for example, that has a signed certificate but your browser reports that it's not signed by a known CA (Certificate Authority). This doesn't mean it's not secure, only that the browser doesn't know who signed it. It's up to you weather or not you choose to accept such a certificate. It's recommended to only accept these certificates from sites you trust.

To accept a certificate from an unknown CA is fairly simple. In Internet Explorer, you simply click on the Yes button in the dialog that pops up. To avoid having to accept every time you enter this site, click on View Certificate, Install, and complete the wizard. In Netscape you'd choose Continue. You can also check the box that says Remember this certificate permanently to avoid having to accept every time you visit the site.


Where can I get more information about customizing Internet Explorer?

The Internet Explorer Home Page, although it can be difficult to navigate, is still the best single resource for information on customizing Internet Explorer. There are, of course, many other web sites on the Internet that provide some more personalized instructions and recommendations. Google, as always, is a good place to start.


Where can I get more information about customizing Netscape Navigator?

Much the same as Internet Explorer, the best single resource for information about customizing Netscape is their web site; Browser Central. You can also search Google for more resources.


Where can I get more information about using Lynx?

The Lynx project maintains its own documentation for this excellent text-only browser. Their links page contains a user manual as well as a welth of other helpful links.


Why discontinue support for Internet Explorer 6?

Microsoft has terminated their support for this browser on all but XP SP2. Their final support date for IE6 on XP SP2 is July 13th, 2010. Simply put, the browser is antiquated even by Microsoft's standards.

Tech Industry concerns with IE 6:

ARS Technica: http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/01/microsoft-wants-you-to-ditch-windows-xp-and-ie6-for-security.ars

PC World (see #8): http://www.pcworld.com/article/125772-3/the_25_worst_tech_products_of_all_time.html

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_explorer_6

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