[HowTo] Optimize Mozilla Firefox for better performance

Firefox is getting very popular lately, mainly due to its customizability. I use firefox as my main browser and use all sorts of addons which help me in web-development. These addons make my firefox hungry but I can’t do without them. So, instead I tweaked around some settings in firefox which made it much responsive and faster than before.

To tweak those settings, follow the following steps:

1. Type about:config in your address bar and hit enter.

2. In the filter type browser.session
3. Modify browser.sessionhistory.max_entries by double clicking it. This setting sets the number of steps you can go forward or backward on a page. Default is 50 which is just too much. 20 will be more than sufficient for most people.

4. Modify browser.sessionstore.interval by double clicking it. This setting specifies the rate of saving current session. The default is 10000 milliseconds which means that every ten seconds your sessions are stored. So, when your browser crashes you will, at most, lose only tabs since last nine seconds prior to crash. Change it to 30000 or 20000, whatever suits you. 10000 is definitely not required by most of the people.

5. Modify browser.sessionstore.max_tabs_undo. This setting stores the number of tabs you can undo-close by pressing ctrl-shift-t. Default has been set to 10. I set it to 5 which is more than sufficient for me.

6. Modify browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers. This setting can vastly improve the performance. It specifies the number of pages to store in memory. When you press back/forward in a browser, pages are instantly displayed. This is because those pages have been stored in the memory and this setting specifies how many pages should be stored. By default, its -1 which means it depends upon the amount of ram. I have 2 GB and I set this setting to 4.

7. Modify network.prefetch-next. This setting specifies if the prefetching should be enabled or not. Prefetching is when a site tells the browser to download a link (which is most likely to be visited) beforehand only. It is useless and only takes up extra bandwidth and memory. Set the value to false.

Lastly, you can try to change some settings yourself and see the results. You can check the mozillazine knowledgebase to know what a particular setting does. For example, for network.prefetch-next you can check out the setting details at http://kb.mozillazine.org/Network.prefetch-next. Similarly, for other settings.

Some more tricks to free up memory usage of firefox:

1. The awesome bar (address/location bar), as you must be knowing is really amazing feature but it may lead to slowdowns if history is too large. Go to Preferences->Privacy, and in ‘Remember my browsing history for atleast’, put minimum history that you ever require. Mine is 30, since I don’t need more than that and putting a less value always speeds up things. In the same dialog box, In ‘When using the location bar, suggest:’ , try an use only one option if you don’t require both. This will further reduce the address bar lag.

2. Remove useless plugins/extensions: Periodically check the list of your extensions and disable those which you haven’t used since a long time. Extensions are the main cause of Firefox’s slowdown.

3. Use a blank pages as your home page. This makes firefox startup a bit faster.

4. Try and use default theme as themes eat up way too much memory. It delays the startup very significantly.

5. Flash is one of the reasons why Firefox eats so much amount of memory. It has been known that memory taken by a flash animation isn’t freed even after closing that tab. They said they improved this memory leak from Firefox v3 onwards but I don’t see much of a difference. The solution is you can replace all your flash animations with a play button using flashblock extensionsand just click the play button to play the required flash animations.
This way you control which flash files are being played, thereby reducing the amount of memory taken.

These settings will definitely make your Firefox blazing fast. Try and implement all of them and see the difference.


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