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. Raju Says:

    This is a complete guide to speed-up Firefox! Awesome stuff! Thanks for linking though.

  2. UB Says:

    Thanks for the good suggestions, but Chrome is not a good alternative. I’ve used Chrome and its not where near ease-of-use, plugin-friendly Firefox. I’d rather go to IE/Opera before going to Chrome.

    Just my feeling….
    _UB

  3. jeff Says:

    Nice article, but this seems to be a more Windows focused article; perhaps some tips for cleaning up crap on a Mac too?

  4. Chinmoy Says:

    I agree with all of that except the end part. Google chrome is no match for Firefox. It has no features.
    If you really want speed, you can try out the new build of Maxthon browser. It is using the webkit engine, same as chrome, plus many additional features.

  5. Andrew Z Says:

    BleachBit is another stand-alone app to vacuum Firefox (and clean 50 other apps) for Linux and Windows.

  6. Lyle Says:

    I have noticed that firefox takes along time to load on a number of Windows machines. Firefox loads slower then Safari on my Mac but much faster then what I have seen on Windows

  7. techandlife Says:

    Raju: Thanks for that!

    jeff: I don’t have a Mac so I can’t help on that.

    UB and Chinmoy: I agree, and this post wasn’t really about finding an alternative; it was trying to help people have a better faster experience with Firefox. The problem for many is that loading up Firefox with all the plug-ins they want for a feature-rich experience has a detrimental effect on performance. Chrome is a leaner alternative, doesn’t have the features of Firefox and so is faster. It’s their choice.

    Andrew Z: Thanks for the info on BleachBit. I’ll update the post with it.

  8. Gregg Says:

    Just changed most of these in Ubuntu – we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for writing this up, appreciate anyone taking time to help out!

  9. Andrew Z Says:

    I mainly mentioned BleachBit because it vacuums Firefox, so it is an alternative to “Vacuum Places Improved” and “SpeedyFox.” CCleaner does not support vacuuming.

  10. Tony Says:

    Sorry to say but these suggestions stuffed up my ability to connect to the internet…luckily i took a screenshot so i could remember how to undo the tips.User be very wary.

  11. techandlife Says:

    It would be really helpful to know which suggestion caused the problem. Was it modification of the config file? If so, try implementing the changes one by one and seeing which change caused the problem. If you let me know then I can modify the advice accordingly.

  12. Oeleth Says:

    There is no need to run external programs in order to compact the SQL DB of FF.
    Simply:
    1. click tools> error console.
    2. in the code bar paste the following command and click enter which will compact it:
    Components.classes["@mozilla.org/browser/nav-history-service;1"].getService(Components.interfaces.nsPIPlacesDatabase).DBConnection.executeSimpleSQL(“VACUUM”);

  13. Nugel Says:

    Don’t use Google’s Chrome! Use SRWare’s Iron, it’s the same as Chrome, but all the privacy issues were taken out.

  14. Toxic Says:

    Thank you for the tips. My Firefox browser is now HAULING A$$!!! :D

  15. Darkblade Says:

    I entered that in the Error Console “code” box and it generates an error.

    Components.classes["@mozilla.org/browser/nav-history-service;1"].getService(Components.interfaces.nsPIPlacesDatabase).DBConnection.executeSimpleSQL(“VACUUM”);

  16. Darkblade Says:

    Error: illegal character
    Source File: javascript:%20Components.classes["@mozilla.org/browser/nav-history-service;1"].getService(Components.interfaces.nsPIPlacesDatabase).DBConnection.executeSimpleSQL(%E2%80%9CVACUUM%E2%80%9D)
    Line: 1, Column: 149
    Source Code:
    Components.classes["@mozilla.org/browser/nav-history-service;1"].getService(Components.interfaces.nsPIPlacesDatabase).DBConnection.executeSimpleSQL(“VACUUM”)

  17. jtryno Says:

    Just performed the conf tweaks and downloaded and ran SpeedyFox. Firefox now opens up and moves like it did back in the day. Great advice!

  18. iLoveCO2 Says:

    Best way to speed up Firefox is to use Opera.

  19. herc Says:

    iLoveCO2, you’re a moron. Opera is a cancer on your system. Plz die.

  20. CreOFF » Blog Archive » Is your FireFox slow? Says:

    [...] itself? Other blogs gave tips on generally improving the internal mechanics of Firefox. I kept this reference as a last resort, but my instincts told me to look [...]

  21. Firefox 3 - Uses Huge amounts of Ram and is slow - Solutions | da blog Says:

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

  22. Emma Says:

    Still looking for loading fixes, rather than when Firefox is actually running. Anyone? Otherwise, great article!

  23. Darren Says:

    Slow FF start-up can be caused by .sol cookies. Do a search for *.sol files on your drives, if you’ve got loads of them that may be your problem.
    Apart from a manual delete, the BetterPrivacy add-on is the way to go. I advise some research in advance of deleting all .sol files e.g. settings.sol & others that make website access smoother: all systems are different!

  24. Bob Says:

    I improved initial startup speed by doing:
    - Tools
    - Options
    - Advanced
    - Select the “Update Tab”
    Uncheck automatic updates for Add-ons.

    Remember to manually check for updates every so often.

  25. Tacoma Seattle SEO & Web Design Says:

    Great article and awesome tips. I’m glad people still offer valuable information for free. It’s one of the things that keep people coming back!

  26. techandlife Says:

    Thanks for that!

  27. Suraj Says:

    Thanks a lot for this article..Is there any extensions/ addons in firefox to get Google startup match preview(just like Chromeplus browser does).

  28. poster Says:

    i did clean up but is still a memory hog and slow.

    i’m thinking of downgrading to ff3 again. or maybe just switch to chrome. might be easier.

  29. Roxie Mcdannald Says:

    I used to be recommended this website via my cousin. I’m now not sure whether this put up is written by way of him as no one else realize such specified about my problem. You are amazing! Thank you!

  30. Alisa Says:

    I have already did these steps and Firefox is still slow. I know it is not my add ons, Also sorry will never go back to Google chrome, can’t block the ads, which carries virus, worms and Trojans and they also slow ones computer down.

  31. Cosmo Liu SBHS Says:

    IF you guys are still tired of how firefox lags and cannot support more than several tabs without crashing, then I suggest you try Fast Browser. It works for me, try it, it is really fast compared to firefox!

    http://download.cnet.com/Fast-Browser/3000-2356_4-75451847.html

  32. Faisalabad Photographer Says:

    these all ways are very difficult to normal user.
    Why firefox not do this in its update version?
    because IE is speedy browser at my side. while i like firefox that is very slow:(

  33. Faisalabad Photographer Says:

    please can someone tell me which firefox version is fast in windows 7. thanx

  34. internet marketing Says:

    Is FireFox slow for you? Do part 4, config. Made a huge difference for me!

  35. Faisalabad Photographer Says:

    I have ried version 4 and 5 both are slow on my windows 7.while my processor 1.7 core2 due and 3 gb ram.
    anyone have an idea to resolve it?

  36. GPS Devices Says:

    My Firefox is currently working a bit slow, I was thinking of switching to Chrome

  37. techandlife Says:

    I’ve been on Chrome for a while now. Overall it is faster than Firefox so give it a try.

  38. john Says:

    That is just poor programming when you have to go through extensive steps to fix it. Firefox should work at least as well as IE, Opera and Chrome.
    I am running firefox 4.0 and it just suddenly became slow. It’s not my computer/internet connection because IE and Opera work fine.
    So I guess firefox has just lost another user. I am sure after searching the internet for “guides how to speed up your crappy firefox browser” I’ll find the solution but it’s not worth it. gooodbbbbbyee firefox!

  39. camille Says:

    Thanks for the info!

    Unrelated, but, you might want to reduce the width of the comments table. A lot of the upper comments (#2-20)are cut off by the righthand menu…

  40. camille Says:

    Also: I tried Chrome a while ago and it is fast. However, once installed, it takes up MUCH more space on your computer, so if you are running out of space on your C drive, I’d skip it.

    *You may want to check the current sizes of both Chrome and Firefox, though, because this was about a year ago and the size issue may have changed.

  41. Kings Says:

    I gave up… It’s so hard to fix this Firefox… I am now using Chrome and it’s fast again… Earlier it was so slow when i type.

  42. Kingerz Says:

    None of these obscure steps should be needed. There is clearly a deeper problem with Firefox at the moment as it is taking ages to connect, in fact often stalling totally with Firefox tabs stuck on connecting. It also is having other problems lately like tbeing very slow to start, not starting at all unless you ctrl+alt+del to close ‘ghost’ versions of it from some weird issue it has not closing down.

    I have the same symptoms on two different Windows 7 PCs.

    Ready to leave it for another browser.

  43. Ilyakori Says:

    Excellent post! I was ready to ditch Firefox as well, but after disabling AVG browser plugins and installing Speedy Fox and Memory Fox, my physical memory usage was cut by 20%…and the Firefox memory usage, with 6 tabs open, including my Gmail and the front page of Huffington Post, dropped from 335mb to between 54 and 72mb! Fantastic!

  44. Brian Says:

    Thanks for tips. I was always a fan of Firefox but recently it makes me think I still have dial-up.
    This webpage displays Ok in IE, but RH columns sits over LH in Firefox. I keep finding this problem more and more. Couldn’t see account data in Paypal the other day, because another box was over the top. Chrome has compatability issues as well, as I can see from my own website where the header menu in Chrome is twice the width it is in IE and Firefox. For speed try Opera!

  45. Craig Says:

    Worked great. Thanks for your advice

  46. Jules Says:

    My Firefox was taking several minutes to start up and I couldn’t fix it no matter what. I followed your recommendation to try SpeedyFox: now it takes less than five seconds.

    So, thanks for the steer to SpeedyFox (and thanks for SpeedyFox itself). I’m well impressed.
    It worked!

  47. Rich Hamilton Says:

    I had trouble with page loads often, but not always, being soooo slow. I could start a load, then open IE and type in the url. It would load, I would read the page, and sometimes Firefox was still not done with the page.

    I went to about:config and set network.http.keep-alive to false.

    And Firefox became a speed demon again.

    If you’re having page load problems, give this a try.

  48. Etienne Says:

    @Rich Hamilton

    Can’t believe it worked… I can’t thank you enough friend! I’ve been trying to correct this thing in firefox for days now, and you were my answer!

  49. Foxfire sql | Mystorycd Says:

    [...] Is Firefox slow for you? Here’s some tips to try which might speed it …Sep 3, 2009 … Optimize Firefox’s SQL database: Firefox uses SQLite databases to store lots of its settings. With time, the databases grow and Firefox slows … [...]

  50. Siva Says:

    Iam doing project in which i have to print only a part of webpage.
    so i used Javascript for the above problem. In IE8 its work fine when i click on the print, it prints the required contents, but in firefox & chrome for the first it is printing whole page and second time onwards it is printing only the actual content. Please suggest me a solution for the problem

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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..

  54. vlad Says:

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

  55. 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.

  56. 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

  57. 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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