Is Firefox slow for you? Here’s some tips to try which might speed it up

firefox

A search for slow firefox on Twitter shows that there is a virtually constant stream of tweets complaining about Firefox being slow. I don’t find the current Firefox (Windows) release any quicker or slower than previous versions yet many people are under the impression that it is. I do find it’s still a memory hog – for me, currently around 230MB with 5 tabs open, about 20 plug-ins installed and 3 Greasemonkey scripts enabled – so probably about a typical set-up. Before you start, it may be worth checking that you’re not blaming Firefox for what’s just a slow internet connection. Check your connection is up to speed by visiting SpeedTest.net and testing the speed of your connection. So is there anything that the typical user can try which might help speed things up before throwing up their arms in disgust and moving to Chrome or Safari? Well I hope this list of tips might help:

Some tips to speed up Firefox

1. Uninstall the latest buggy Skype plug-in: If you are experiencing that Facebook, GMail or Google Reader are really crawling and you’ve recently updated Skype to version 4.1 and installed the Skype plug-in for Firefox, try uninstalling the Skype plug-in, but leave the main Skype program installed. That should help. Hopefully, Skype will update this plug-in soon because, reading the tweets on slow firefox, it’s certainly responsible for driving a number of people away to other browsers, particularly Chrome.

2. Check how much memory Firefox is using: Bring up Windows Task Manager with Ctrl-Alt-Del in Windows XP or Crtl-Alt-Esc in Vista and go to the Processes tab. Look for the process called firefox.exe and check the memory usage: for example, 230,000K is 230MB. Try cutting back on the number of tabs you have open and uninstall any plug-ins you really don’t need and see if this brings down memory usage. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have installed plug-ins which seemed a good idea at the time but which you now rarely, if ever use. Uninstall them.

Edit (13 March 2010): From Creoffblog, if you have an antivirus anti-phishing toolbar add-on, try disabling it as this may be causing the slow down.

3. Do some maintenance: Use a program like CCleaner (for Windows) or BleachBit (for Windows or Linux) to clear your browser temporary files, internet cache and browser history regularly.

4. Modify the Firefox config file: Here’s some tweaks which involve modifying the config file for Firefox. I’d heard some of these a while ago on the Mike Tech Show podcast, also at Life Rocks 2.0. It’s not difficult to edit the config file. Just type about:config in the Firefox address bar and press enter. Then type network.http in the filter field. This will filter the list down to only those with network.http in the name. Now make the following changes:

  • Double click on ‘network.http.pipelining’ and set the value to true (double clicking toggles the value between true and false).
  • Double click on network.http.pipelining.maxrequests’ and in the dialog box enter a value higher than the default value 4. According to Mozillazine, the maximum you can use is 8.
  • Double click on ‘network.http.proxy.pipelining’ and set the value to true.
  • Again in the filter field enter ‘browser.sessionstore.interval‘ (without the quotes), double click on the entry and change the value from 10000 (10 secs) to 120000 (2 minutes). This adjusts how frequently Firefox creates session restore save points. Firefox will now take a snapshot of your browsing session every 2 minutes instead of every 10 seconds.
  • Right click on the page and select New->Integer. Enter the name nglayout.initialpaint.delay and then click ok. Set the integer value of this to 0 and click ok.

You can find additional great config file tweaks at Technically Personal.

5. Disable Firebug: If you’re using Firebug, it can slow Firefox to a crawl.speedyfox

6. Optimize Firefox’s SQL database: Firefox uses SQLite databases to store lots of its settings. With time, the databases grow and Firefox slows down. Use either Vacuum Places Improved, a Firefox add-on, or SpeedyFox, a stand-alone app to compact these databases without losing any data. I prefer SpeedyFox as I like to keep the number of Firefox add-ons to a minimum.  Only works in Windows at the moment though. Thanks again to Life Rocks 2.0 for this tip. I also use the portable version which doesn’t modify the Windows registry.

7. Try Memory Fox, a memory optimizer for Firefox 3. It constantly flushes Firefox’s memory usage. At the moment it’s only for the Windows OS. There’s a full write up on ghacks.net.

8. If you’re still not happy with Firefox, there’s a terrific Firefox Troubleshooting Guide over on MakeUseOf.com. And have a look at this post at Dedoimedo for more suggestions.

9. And if you’re still not happy, try Google Chrome – it’s a worthy alternative to Firefox.

Do you have any tips for speeding up Firefox? Drop a comment below with your tweaks.

57 Responses

  1. Jeff Says:

    Well said my friend. This should take care of it the basics. If none of this works for you then a new browser all together is what you need. FireFox is the best so far.

  2. Miko Says:

    Thank you! Changing browser.sessionstore.interval from 15 seconds (the default in version 10) to 3 minutes made a huge difference. I tried it at 2 minutes, then thought what the heck 3 is fine.

  3. thinka bitmore Says:

    why do people put up with crap like this, where the USER has to type/enter/click/adjust…etc…

    when the people who wrote the code should -a- pick better de4faults, -b- DESIGN GOOD CODE not just write blahblah, -c- listen to user community about changes, -d- test their OWN code..

  4. vlad Says:

    i followed 1tru 4 and did 6. Now my Firefox is fast again. THANKS A LOT!

  5. a female faust Says:

    some thoughtsblem b
    first — it isn:’t firefox’s problem but windows, as i understand it from my admittedly hasty research: windows seven after the update is causing pain across the globe. so i would ask all those blaming firefox’s tech engineers to consider damning microsoft’s to hell instead. for me firefox slowed to a crawl at three am — had to force restart — and oh, how coincidental, windows wants to update! — after which, gee, never seen that toolbar before — didn’t know an OS update could change my BROWSER config — and ever since then, slow slow sloooooooooooooooow.

    to be continued.

  6. a female faust Says:

    sorry about the ‘blem b’ typo.

    as i was saying… or rather, on to What I Know To Help Speed Things.

    (nota bene: I am a mac user by predilection — am just getting used to this windows crap operating system)

    *get rid of localstorage of icons —

    *you can have as many tabs as you like as long as they are not twitter, google voice, gmail, or youtube

    *check to see if some suspicious character of an ad has opened a window in the background to offer you some glittering prize while it puts your immortal soul up for sale on ebay for $3.33 (buyitnow). close the window.

    *any instant message or voice over ip plugins to firefox or your browser will slow you down

    *get rid of auto updates

    *keep history as long as you like — just don’t let the suggestion bar search it

    *stay the fuck away from secure browsing solutions like AVG or genieo. they are malware.

    *stay away from facebook and twitter browser plugins — if you must facebook use another browser. why not opera — birds of an evil feather probably would want to plot together to update themselves so as to overthrow your regime as super user admin control of your own computer
    blaming firefox:

    PEOPLE — WE NEED TO ADD LEARN HOW TO PROGRAM OR THE MOST AWESOME POWER EVER GIVEN MAN WILL BE HIJACKED FROM US AND WE WON’T EVEN KNOW WE COULD HAVE HAD IT. PROGRAM OR BE PROGRAMMED. do not rely on an application to give you what you want by default. make it so yourself. then no one will be able to effectively burn this instantiation of the Library at Alexandria.

    Thank you for listening to my rant. hopefully we will not die like rotten cabbages.

    Be seeing you.

    once more about b

    *clear your cookies

  7. a female faust Says:

    still got typos – damn oversensitive mouse pad – “ADD” at the beginning of the rant was supposed to be “ALL,” “*clear your cookies” was supposed to be with the list, above, and i have no idea what i meant by “once more about b.”

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