Dumping Java cache improves browser performance

Dennis o'reilly By Dennis O’Reilly

If your browser takes forever to open, it could be due to an overloaded Java cache.

The Java Control Panel applet lets you clear Java’s temporary Internet cache and reset the default cache size to a more reasonable amount.

For many people, the most-important application on their PCs is their browser. But sometimes it seems to take forever for the program to open. Bruce Sobut discovered a fix for slow-as-molasses launches of Firefox:
  • “Whenever I loaded a Web page with Java the first time after rebooting, it would take an extremely long time (over a minute). After looking into it a little on Google, I found references to the Java cache. On two different computers, it was set to 2GB (default?).

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    “Since I had never done it before, I cleared the Java cache, which took over an hour. I then reduced the cache to 20MB (my understanding is some Java programs require the cache). Since doing this, Java pages load quickly and all is well.”
To clear your Java cache, click Start, Control Panel, Programs (if necessary), Java. In the Temporary Internet Files section under the General tab, choose the Settings button. In the Temporary Files Settings dialog, click Delete Files. (See Figure 1.) The process may have taken more than an hour for Bruce, but on my test Vista system, it took just a few seconds to delete the 790MB of files in the cache.

Java temporary internet files dialog
Figure 1. Improve your browser’s performance by clearing Java’s Temporary Internet Files cache.

The default size of the Java cache on three PCs I checked was 1GB (or “1000MB,” as shown in Figure 1). There’s no particular reason why the cache needs to be this large, though reducing the cache to 20MB as Bruce did may be too small for some users. A more reasonable cache size is between 100MB and 200MB.

Manually install network-discovery utility

In the Nov. 12 Known Issues column, Stuart Berg described Microsoft’s Link-Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD) Responder, a utility designed to facilitate finding XP systems on a home network. The program didn’t install automatically for reader Ian Journeaux, but he found a manual workaround:
  • “I have had trouble getting my Vista PC to play nice with the Win XP computers on my network. For some reason, the Vista machine would more often than not be unable to view the Win XP computers in Network Neighborhood.

    “I saw your article on LLTD and thought it might be a solution. But even though I’m running Win XP SP3, the fix refused to install. A search led me to a [Windows Live Spaces blog] that describes the procedure for installing LLTD manually. This worked for me, and the missing computers now appear on my Vista computer.”
The instructions for manually installing the LLTD utility — written by a blogger named “Felipe” — entail renaming the executable file and running a series of commands from a command prompt, so make sure you have your geek hat on before you attempt the procedure.

Who needs Quick Launch? Pinning’s simpler

The Nov. 12 Known Issues column also described how to enable Windows 7′s Quick Launch toolbar, which is disabled by default. Al Arntson was one of several readers who pointed out a simpler solution:
  • “There’s no need to use the ‘hidden’ Quick Launch toolbar in Windows 7. Just right-click any program and select Pin to Taskbar. This will create an icon for that program and place it on the left side of the taskbar. A single click launches it just like the old Quick Launch did in previous Windows versions.”
And with that tip, we close the book on Windows 7′s Quick Launch toolbar … at least until someone comes up with an even-more-elegant shortcut solution.

Readers Bruce, Ian, and Al will each receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of their choice for sending tips we printed. Send us your tips via the Windows Secrets contact page.

The Known Issues column brings you readers’ comments on our recent articles. Dennis O’Reilly is technical editor of WindowsSecrets.com.
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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2009-11-19: