Make Firefox 4 Faster

FIRST THING’S FIRST.

*UPDATED 4TH OF JULY 2011.

Quick SuperMunk Update; V.2.8.1

So I was in the middle of writing a post about surfing the web privately when my computer decided to get menopause.

It got so bad, (how bad was it?)- so bad, that

  • I typed something in the address bar and waited, and waited, waited, waiting, waiting,…
  • I clicked on my browser to open it, and waited, waited, waited, ….
  • my browser kept crashing
  • my browser kept freezing
  • everything on my desktop developed a flickering tick of some sort
  • waiting, waiting, still waiting…
  • I had only enough juice to run ONE application at a time! (I either had to close out of Twitter or my web browser to use either one)
  • my CPU was maxed out and I couldn’t find which culprit it was

Happyguy kept insisting I reinstall Windows. Well gee, that would be nice, if I HAD the original disc it came off of! And to make a backup disc I have to back up ALL my files first lest they mysteriously disappear during reformatting, all 60GB of them. To give you a comparison, I only have an 80GB hardrive, with a DVD-rom  but no, it doesn’t BURN DVD’s like I need it to. Bonus yuks:  it also has a floppy drive. I mean, that is how old this damn thing is.

So I shelved the blogging for a very long while and began taking care of business from a maintenance point of view, with very much frustration. Here’s all the wonderful things I did:

  • Cleared registries
  • cleared empty folders
  • backed up file folders then removed them from computer
  • vacuumed inside my tower
  • defragged
  • optimized my memory
  • disabled useless programs upon bootup
  • set computer so it doesn’t save passwords or history or anything
  • uninstalled and removed old apps I would never use again
  • full scan on virus, malware, spyware
  • scanned for root kits
  • removed duplicate folders
  • removed corrupted or unusable .dll files
  • defragged again

And all this bullshit took 3months; I had no idea I had so much data in my computer. Yeah, you try backing up that shit on several 700MB discs, on a slowwww performing machine.  Again, this is an almost 10yr old computer and it moves slower than a- a fucked up PC. Yes it’s laughable, that even grandmothers have newer tech than I do. (seriously miss my Alienware  laptop 😦 ) But in the face of defeat, I grin and bear it and do my best. And though the rest of the computer seemed fine and performed much better after all that maintenance, my browser still kept having titty-attacks.

Then I realized why…

Welcome To Firefox 4

You see kids, Firefox recently upgraded their software. And it’s built for newer computers because they figure hey, what kind of an idiot keeps such an old computer anyway?

*cough

What’s New In Firefox 4:

  1. Status Bar is no longer called the Status Bar. Hereon in it shall be known as the Add-On Bar, which nestles itself comfortably at the bottom of screen and you can X it off if you like
  2. FF4 now comes with a Sync button for all your devices
  3. the Private Browsing feature you can choose to keep on automatically at all times now. In fact, Privacy gets it’s own tab under Options now
  4. You can’t right-click (PC users only) and bookmark a tab. BUT, you can get that tab to do all kinds of nifty things, except bookmark the damn thing (we are now relegated to CTRL+D to bookmark a tab)
  5. Add-Ons do not display in a floating window anymore. Instead, it opens up in it’s own tab where you can alternate Plugins and Themes and Extensions right from there
  6. Another thing to do within Addons: Look up newer addons instead of going thru the trouble of opening up the Firefox website in another window (see image below)
  7. *Updated: Bookmarks can’t dock to the left. All bookmarks can only be edited if you click Organize Bookmarks. Also, you cannot bookmarks a particular tab by right-clicking on it, but hey, you can do all sorts of other things on it. That is called useless.
  8. the browser’s memory cache is automatically set at 512,000MB

Firefox 4 Addons manager and Addons Bar

I like to see my extensions on my Add-Ons Bar simply because I like easy access. Like my No-Script extension, which I’m always customizing per website becaues I’m a neurotic girl. So I right-clicked between my icons on the Navigation Toolbar (the bar that holds the address bar where you type in website addresses) clicked on Customize, and dragged & dropped whatever extension icons I wanted right onto my Add-Ons Bar you see docked at the bottom of Firefox there.

Firefox 4 And Memory Leaks

Unfortunately memory leaks have long been a disputed issue in the Firefox web browser.  You should know that Firefox is awesome for it’s customizable ability, yet it’s the same reason it uses up so much memory.

Adding more shit slows it down. (duh!)

Notice the other web browsers are far more simple and have less addons to contend with.

Firefox 4 HAS been optimized since it’s predecessor, but some of the previous problems still persist. Here’s some things you need to know…

List of things that make Firefox leak memory:

  1. Plugins. Either you run into a webpage that asks you to install one just to see a video clip, or you install some new software that sneaks their own plugin onto your default web browser with/ without your consent. Like herpes, once you catch it, it’s in your system forever. You virtually cannot uninstall plugins; you would need to hack into the mainframe of the source code like some kind of hacker code monkey- and I don’t recommend this either. Sometimes a plugin has an Uninstall button, if you’re lucky. Most cases you can only click the Disable button on those plugins, but for others you are SOL! So adhere to my golden rule on plugins: DON’T NEED IT, DON’T INSTALL IT.
  2. You may have to delete addons one-by-one to see which is sucking up memory like crazy.
  3. Old Extensions/ old Themes/ old Plugins. In Firefox 4, you can set your AddOns to automatically update or search for newer versions. I highly recommend this as older versions may have bugs. Some of those bugs entail leaking memory and exhausting your CPU to the max.
  4. Keep Extensions Disabled until you actually use them. It’s like keeping your computer on all the time and wondering why your electric bill keeps rising. Duh! For example, I use the Firebug extension but keep it disabled until the moment I am ready to use it at all.
  5. Browser Memory Cache settings. I mentioned this above and this is actually what has been fucking up my computer for some time now. Firefox 4 has the memory value set real high by default because it assumes we all have fancy updated computers that will use up this much memory. Firefox is already an undisputed memory hog as is some of it’s addons.
  6. Delete Your Firefox Profile. This should be reserved as a last resort. You back up your bookmarks’ JSON file and also Export HTML of bookmarks. You remember which addons you had. You delete that Firefox profile and start with a fresh new one, then import everything back into it, one by one.

How To Fix the Memory In Firefox 4

DON’T PANIC. Ok.

And before we even think about making permanent changes, let’s make simple ones 1st, shall we?

Open Firefox In Safe Mode

  1. Open up Firefox in (Safe Mode) by > Help > Restart with Addons Disabled > and it gives you choice boxes. You can check these boxes then >Make Changes and Restart BUT, if you do this it becomes permanent.
  2. If instead you choose to > Continue In Safe Mode then you get Firefox with no activated addons and all user preferences will be set at default options. Once you exit Firefox it’s not a permanent change.
  3. Next time you open it up, it’ll be same way you left it. Unless it repeatedly opens up in Safe Mode, in which case Firefox could be stuck. But that’s a rarity.

You want to open in Safe Mode to see how smooth Firefox runs without all the addons activated, and that smoothness means your addons are most likely the root cause slowing down FF4. If while in Safe Mode and still experiencing memory drain and your CPU is overtaxed,

A) you may need to start removing some addons until you find the one causing the leak,

B) or  you may need to reset your Firefox memory cache.

OR, your settings are too high. In which case,

Clearing The Memory Cache In Firefox 4

I was gonna post this info, but fuck it cuz here’s the bestest shortest tutorial I’ve found on the subject. (super easy!) I actually set mine from 1024 (1024KB = 1MB) to something far less with improved results. It’s trial and error so you’ll have to tweak it to fit your particular computer’s needs.

After you make your changes and restart Firefox, it should run smoother. If not, then we need to make bigger changes.

So let’s change, shall we?

Change Settings In Firefox 4 To Optimize Memory

What you really need to know is this:

If your computer was built before 2006 there’s a good chance it has anywhere between 128-512MB of RAM  THEREFORE the value integer must be set to 5000. If it was built after 2006, most likely it has 512MB-1GB of RAM so you reset the integer value at 10,000 or 15,000. If you have 1GB-4GB of RAM or even more, you can set it at 15,000 or leave it at the default value of 512,000.* Scroll down to see how you can find info on your memory card.

*I believe this was the default value when I fist saw it; either 512 or 521.

Now this is gonna take some brainwork. Not too much though, so just keep your pants on sally!

Step 1: Ok, open up an blank tab by hitting that plus sign next to any current tab, then type about:config in the address bar.

Step 2: Click the button that says “I’ll be careful, I promise

Step 3:  See that list in front of you? We are gonna add another to that list. Right-click anywhere on that list > it’ll open a mini-menu asking New > Integer > Enter Preference Name  (type browser.cache.memory.capacity) and OK it> New Integer Value > and you type in -1 for the value and that’s it. Done.

Step 4: While we’re there, make sure that browser.cache.disk.enable is set to false by typing it into that search bar. It’ll appear on the list and just double click on it to change it.

Step 5: And that browser.cache.memory.enable is set to true.

Step 6: Close out all Firefox windows and tabs. Restart and it should now load much faster. To check current memory cache, open a new blank tab, type about:cache in the address bar and check it out.

Ok, all of this should’ve fixed the problems by now. Now it is entirely possible your computer never had enough RAM to begin with. To check your memory card requirements, download Speccy and use it, or refer to your owner’s manual or whatever manual contains your computer’s factory installation specs. Good luck and enjoy faster browsing!

*Updated: Apparently Firefox 5 came out a few days ago. I’ll keep you informed as to upgraded changes.

Also, check out this sweet screenshot of where this post ranks in Google’s index:

page 3 google rank for supermunk

page 3 google rank for supermunk

For Mozilla’s recommended settings, see http://kb.mozillazine.org/Browser.cache.memory.capacity
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3 responses to “Make Firefox 4 Faster

  1. Firefox 4 does foil up many websites designed for FF3. For an example, there are sites which show’s up an error in FF3 when you right click (to prevent copying stuff). FF4 does away with it by a check-box that allows you to ‘Prevent the page from creating additional dialogues’ . Makes javascript go sick or crash at each other. Still I love Firefox 🙂
    PS: Things I learned about you from this blog :
    1. You really like to mess up
    2. You’re a girl
    3. Your Firefox persona sucks

    • Codemaster,
      I am not a codemonkey by any means, unlike you. So I glance at Mozilla’s instructions with my untrained-in-any-programming-language eyes, scratch my head and try to make some sense of it all like an ordinary citizen.
      I am not a girl, but a woman. Not sure why you felt a need to highlight the obvious. And I say obvious because you’d get that information from further reading of this blog.
      I have no idea what you mean by ‘firefox persona’ or that you’re under the impression that I ‘like to mess up’; please clafify. It’s probably best for you head back into playing World of Warcraft and not speak to regular women until your social skills develop further. Cheers.

  2. In your Blog, Make Firefox 4 Faster, Posted on May 8, 2011, you stated:

    “Plugins. Either you run into a webpage that asks you to install one just to see a video clip, or you install some new software that sneaks their own plugin onto your default web browser with/ without your consent. Like herpes, once you catch it, it’s in your system forever. You virtually cannot uninstall plugins; you would need to hack into the mainframe of the source code like some kind of hacker code monkey- and I don’t recommend this either.”

    I am running Vista Home Premium on an HP Pavilion Core2Duo Laptop, 4 GBs of Memory, while running Firefox Beta v11.0

    Just a few minutes ago, I was successful at TOTALLY REMOVING the VLC Multimedia Plug-in Version 0.9.6 (which ONLY listed itself under Plugins, as “Disable”). This is how I accomplished this:
    1-I located a logical candidate in the Profile folder (C:\Users\Owner\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\1g01vjzz.default\) called pluginreg.dat. This file apparently has a list of ALL the Current Firefox Plugins.
    -Failure, even when I deleted this entry with Firefox closed down, it was back again once I restarted Firefox.
    2-I did an internet search of where Firefox stores its plugins on installation, which in my case was C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugins. All these plugins were DLL files, but no VLC plugin was present, BUT I remembered in that “plugins.dat” file for the VLC Multimedia Plug-in Version 0.9.6 (under npvlc.dll), it had it listed being in folder C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\ as npvlc.dll.. so I went into this folder (with Firefox closed down) and simply renamed it from npvlc.dll to npvlc.lld, and voilà, when I restarted Firefox, IT WAS GONE FROM THE PLUGIN LIST!

    QED

    Thought you might want to know

    BJ Orden
    nedro@mail.usa.com

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