Loading browser symbol

Loading Browser Making You Dizzy?

21 Apr 2023

Have you ever noticed how browser tab icons go clockwise and then anti-clockwise when loading a web page? Or ever wondered why the colour of the spinner changes from grey to blue?

Most sites have a favicon, a small symbol to the left of the browser tab that represents the website owner. When the site is loading data, the favicon is replaced with a spinning disc. This disc behaves differently depending on the stage of the URL search.

Initially the disc will appear grey, rolling anti-clockwise. This means the browser is in request mode and data is being called. It will be in one of the following states:

  • resolving the hostname
    (checking that there is a connection between your browser and the server where the website is hosted so that they can communicate with each other)
  • connecting to the server
  • waiting for a response.

However, when the disc changes to a blue circle rolling clockwise, the browser has connection and is in download mode and will be in the one of the following states:

  • loading a page
  • loading referenced resources.

The colour change from grey to blue is incidental as it simply creates a visual point of difference. As you might expect, however, the speed at which the circle rotates – blue or grey – is related to speed of the data retrieval and download.

Sometimes it may seem like the spinning will never end. Don’t worry, you’re not going insane – there is a reason for this! Effectively, the browser is waiting for a response that might never actually come. This can be down to a few things but in short it's anything that interrupts the communication between your browser and the various web resources you’re searching for.

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