I came across this issue where a particular user was getting lots of timeouts for websites via Internet Explorer. The problem didn’t follow the user to other PCs, and I couldn’t see any firewall issues. The websites were random, but I did notice they were generally slow to load websites.
Another symptom was getting this same error when signing up for things or processing payments – all processes that can take a while to respond. Even loading pictures on emails sometimes timed out this way!
I did find a 3rd party search engine had been added to IE and removed that, but that made no difference.
After a bunch of testing and research being convinced it was a local profile issue, probably around IE timeout settings, I found this article which gave a registry setting around timeouts. I adjusted the value for KeepAliveTimeout in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings but it made no difference.
What I did notice though, was another registry value in the same spot – ReceiveTimeout. This was set to 5000 which would equate to 5 seconds converted from milliseconds, similar to the KeepAliveTimeout setting.
Comparing it to another computer, that registry setting didn’t even exist. I tried upping the value to 60000 for a minute, and after lots more testing, the problem appeared to be fixed! I then deleted the registry key and the problem didn’t reoccur.
My assumption is that the 3rd party search engine (which seemed a bit dodgy) added certain registry settings under the user’s profile for their own purposes, and removing it didn’t clear it up.
Of course, deleting the profile would have had the same result, but then we wouldn’t understand why it broke!