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Why doesn't 'Back' always work when I surf the web?

Why is it on some web pages I can go ‘back’ to previous web pages as fast as
I can click the mouse. On others I have to click ‘back’ 3 or 4 times, single or
double click, and wait sometimes 15 seconds?

I feel your pain. You hit back, it churns for a bit … maybe even displays
a thing or two … and then returns you to the page you started with, without
going “back” at all. If you time it right, perhaps you can hit back more than
once to get where you’re going. Or not.

The problem is I also feel the pain of the web site developer that caused
this to happen. Sometimes it can’t be avoided.

And it is a function of the website’s design.

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Normally when you click a link on page “A” that lands you on page “B”, you
rightfully expect that when you hit “Back”, you’d end up back on page “A”. And
most of the time you do.

The problem is that sometimes sites are set up when you click a link on page
“A”, it takes you to page “C”, which quickly and automatically takes you to
page “B”. Now when you click “Back” it takes you to page “C” … which quickly
and automatically takes you back to page “B”. If you hit “Back” a second time,
at just the right time, you might be able to get back to page “A”. If you’re

Now, it might seem silly to go to a page into the middle of everything, and
sometimes it is. However there are legitimate scenarios where it’s the right
thing to do. Regardless of whether it’s silly or correct, it simply is, and as
a web surfer you’re stuck dealing with it.

“Now, it might seem silly to a page into the middle of
everything, and sometimes it is.”

Fortunately with current browsers it’s not that difficult to deal
with. The back button in both IE 6 and 7, as well as FireFox 2 (and I’m
assuming other popular browsers) includes a dropdown list of pages you’ve
visited recently – in fact, it’s the list of sites that you would be “Backing”
through if you kept hitting Back, and none of them automatically did

Here’s the button in FireFox:

Back List dropdown button in FireFox 2

That little down arrow, when clicked, shows the list of pages you’ve been

Back List dropdown in FireFox 2

Simply click on the site you want to go back to. If there’s one of these
automatic redirection pages in the middle of everything, you can skip over it
by clicking on the real page you want to go back to.

Here’s the dropdown list arrow in Internet Explorer 6:

Back List dropdown button in IE 6

and in Internet Explorer 7:

Back List dropdown button in IE 7

I know, just because it’s relatively easy to deal with, doesn’t mean it
isn’t somewhat annoying. Especially considering that you probably won’t realize
that you need to take this step until after that first “Back” fails.

It’s actually doubly annoying for me, since I see it happen in many cases
where it’s not actually necessary, or where there are other solutions.

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13 comments on “Why doesn't 'Back' always work when I surf the web?”

  1. Leo Thanks for that: it really is annoying and a sure way of putting me off anything on the site. It may be absured but I get that annoyed and think that I am being hyjacked.

  2. One very common use of redirects are for keeping people out of places they shouldn’t be. On certain pages on certain sites I’ve designed, the first thing the page does is check to see if you’re a registered user. If you’re not, you get thrown to a page asking you to register, or get thrown to the home page, or get thrown to a page telling you not to be so dang inquisitive.

    And these aren’t porn sites or even pay sites most times. They’re just sites that feel you shouldn’t be able to, for example, post a blog comment (or read a members-only blog) without registering.

    So if you try to force your way into somewhere you shouldn’t go through manually typing in a link or going to a page someone linked to without permission, we toss you out. If you try to hit your back button, we toss you out again.

    Sometimes you type in A or click on A and you’re bounced to B, and there’s just no way to use your back button to get to A, because the person who owns A doesn’t want you there.

  3. While the explanation makes sense … at the same time this problem only started happening within the last month …. or perhaps has gotten much worse in that time.

    What I have also noticed, is that when hitting the back button I do see minor changes, and they, so far, have been with the ADS that are displayed on pages this happens.

    This suggests to me that the problem may be more related to the code the ads are using to display on the respective pages. And its not hard to fathom that some of the ad companies have seen this, and are using it as a way to get additional impressions of ads.

    Anyone else seeing it similarly?

  4. Same problem with IE7 although in FireFox 2.0 the back button works quickly and 98% of the time as far as I can tell. This suggests to me that IE7 might have flaw related to this problem. Do you think an IE7 reinstall might help or do you know of a Microsoft fix for this. I couldn’t find one. Thanks.

  5. I have found that I din;t have this problem when using a home page other than MSN. I believe this problem is related to Doubleclick and othert ad services. I am about ready to change my homepage!

  6. I upgraded to ie8 and start to have this problem. ie6 did not have this problen at leaser on my unit. Is there a fix for thius in ie8? or maybe i should return to ie6

  7. I think that there is a virus or a trojan horse that is causing this. I first started having problems a month ago after visiting a questionable website that caused my security software to light up like a Fourth of July spectacular. When I used the drop down menu to go back, a web address appeared in the menu in place of the last page. That web address has disappeared, but now I can’t get my “back” arrow to work in any website.

  8. Open up your task manager and go to processes and usually youll have iexplorer running multiple processes ,more than what windows you have opened ,close them out and you should be able to use your back button just like private session.

  9. I can’t even get off your webpage. I hit the back button and I’m still here. Now I have to get out of Google and then type my question again.

  10. I am using IE8. He is what I just noticed. When the problem occurs, instead of hitting the back button, just let the mouse arrow hoover over the back button and see what is displayed. What I am seeing is that the next click wants to put me at a google ad location, but when I make the click it does not appear that I go to any google ad location. What I see is-
    Back to
    If I hit Alt and left arrow I also go no where at all, but when I let the mouse arrow hoover over the back arrow I now see the expected return to location displayed and clicking again takes me back where I need to be.
    Does anyone else see this happening? And, if so, any idea on how to dump googles attempt to make me look at something that they probably have not yet fully deployed?
    Any help would bea ppreciated.

  11. A couple of misspelled words in my previous comment. When backing up from this site, what I was seeing was (etc) as the return and when I click the back button the first time it is acting more like a broken link. Does that make sense? At other sites more than one or two fast clicks are often needed to get me back to where I really want to be. This is really an issue that I never experienced regularly until about a month ago and now it is continual.


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