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.
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.
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.
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.