Why am I regularly unable to view many web pages?

For the past few weeks I am regularly getting "Network Timeouts" when attempting to view many web pages.  It has turned into about 90% of my attempts are met with the Network Timeout error.  It can be any web page, and cannot be connected to specific web sites - sometimes they display ok, and sometimes they don't - nearly always, they don't.  

There are  ONLY two things that I think I have done recently:
1) Installed Firefox 3.  However, I experience the same thing when using Internet Explorer 7.  
2) Installed XP SP3.
However, I have not heard of anyone experiencing similar problems from either of these, so assume that neither is the cause.

The only thing that appears to be constant is my inability to view any Google map - whether it is on the Google's own page, or whether embeeded in another web page - the web page may display fine, but I can never see the Google map.

My investigations so far....
I have performed a thorough virus and spyware check.  
Disk has been defragmented.
Temporary files have been removed.
Disk has plenty ie. 10's of Gbs free.

Things got so bad, that I was practically unable to surf the web at all.  So.....I re-formatted my PC and re-instaleld windows from scratch.  Things looked ok for a couple of days, but have now resorted to the same.  But I cannot think of anything that can be causing my surfing to effectively grind to a halt like this.

I have to assume it is software-related, because I also have a laptop connecting to the internet via the same router as used by my ailing desktop PC.

PLEASE, can somebody advise what might be causing the problem?

FYI, I have an Intel E6400 dual core processor, 2Gb of Crucial RAM, Windows XP SP3, Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS,  2 x 500Gb Samsung Spinpoint HDD (in RAID 0), 2 x 300Gb Spinpoint (in RAID 0).

Who is Participating?
jhyieslaConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I would not think that there is anything really special about Google or EE other than current web-display technologies.  And, yes, you are probably correct that you are not the only person to install these products.  However, especially with some of the current updates to Windows and IE MS has pushed the envelope a little and because I am sure that you are running more on your system than just these items the interactions of various programs definitely come into play.

I know that it's a pain, but it you reinstall XP with SP 2 and IE 6...see if you get yourself a stable system that works as it's supposed to work.  Then add in the rest of your normal apps and see if that stability stays.  If it does, I'd next add in IE 7 because it's been out there the longest...and see what you get.  If things stay working OK, then I"d patch up IE 7 and check again.  Then I'd either do FF3 or SP3...not sure what would be my advice on that one.  But the idea is to start with something you know that works and one at a time add in something new until you find what breaks it.  It might not actually be that product itself, but it's interaction with something already installed. Still you know what the main trigger is.
You might want to wait to see if someone else chimes in with something less drastic.  But...I'd reformat and reinstall again and stop at a config that you know worked OK...like no FF or FF 2 and IE 6 and XP SP 2.

None of these additional items are critical.  Then, if it runs OK for a week or so, add in one item...like IE 7 let that run for a while and add in another until either you get everything in and it'sworking or you find the one thing that makes it fail.

The only problem with this suggestion, other than the obvious major pain to do it, is the problem could be an incompatibility between two items...say FF 3 and SP 3.  Since it appears that FF 3 is still not in production, you might want to do that one last...since I would imagine that MS would had done at least some testing with SP3 and IE 7.
don9999Author Commented:
But my thought is that FF3 and SP3 are such common installations, that there must be thousands of people with the same software and I don't see anyone else complaining.  That's why I feel it's not to do with them.

But if all else fails, I WILL try again.

Slightly less drastic, I will backtrack a few steps first ie. remove FF3 etc., before I go through the painful task of re-installing everything from scratch.

Would you believe that it has taken me 20 minutes, and probably 30-40 attempts to open up this page to read your reply!

It is REALLY annoying me now..

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Well...SP3 is very new and at its initial release I heard many horror stories.  Also, I didn't think that FF3 was in production yet...still in Beta or RC stage.

Something you might try is taking a look at Task manager for CPU, Memory or Network hogs while you attempt to access the Internet.

The only reason that I didn't suggest backing out some of the changes is that Windows does a really bad job of cleaning certain apps and felt that it would be cleaner the other way...although a much bigger pain :)
Marc ZCommented:

You don't mention your actual network or security programs.  

How do you access the internet? Do you have a local network?

All network connections tight?  What security programs are installed?
don9999Author Commented:
I have two computer - my desktop and laptop, both connected by ethernet to a Belkin router/modem and thereon to the internet.

I've unplugged and re-plugged the ethernet connections.

I'm using Zonealarm Pro, fully updated.
However, removing zonealarm, has no posiive effect (so I have assumed it is not causing the problem).

Did you try backing out the changes of SP3 and FF3?
don9999Author Commented:
That's my very next step.
However, I'm surprised if I am the 'only' one to have installed SP3 and FF3!  There must be tens of thousands of such users - am I the 'only' one experiencing this problem?
Also, I have the same issue when using IE7.

However it 'must' be software related, as I have no problem with my laptop.

I wonder whether it is to do with some 'related software' such as .NET or JAVA.  I find that I am now completely unable to access this experts-exchange web site from my desktop - I simply get the 'Network Timeout' error (I'm writing this on my laptop).

Likeiwse I am unable to see any Google map on my desktop.

Any ideas if there is any special functionality on the expert exchange web site requiring additional software?  And/or what special requirement is there for seeing google maps?

rweilConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You might consider running some hardware/memory checks on the system.  Try a loop back check on the network card as well.

Can you set up a web server on the other machine and see if the error occurs when you connect to it as well?

Try swapping the network cable.  it might be marginal, in that during the install you move it around enough to make it work and later move it around to where it does not work.
Marc ZCommented:

Can you Download and run Hijack This http://www.trendsecure.com/portal/en-US/tools/security_tools/hijackthis
Copy/paste the log here (As Code Snippet or Attach File) so we can see it.
A Web search shows that many people have timeout problems, specifically with FF and not with IE. I'm having this problem, too.

You might try adding a longer Windows DNS timeout value. See http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/windows2000serv/reskit/regentry/96406.mspx.

don9999... did anything suggested here solve your issue?

If the you do not know how to close the question, the options are here:
dspectorConnect With a Mentor Commented:
There seem to be known problems with Firefox sometimes refusing to open a working website. Unfortunately, Mozilla seems to be unaware of these problems (or perhaps in denial).

If you sometimes have trouble opening sites, then can open them by refreshing, it is probably caused by this unacknowledged bug. I know of no solution until enough Firefox developers encounter it that they get motivated to fix it. Sorry.

David Spector
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