Mozilla Firefox is probably one of the best browser today although other browsers like Google Chrome are picking up fast while Internet Explorer is trying to retain its place by releasing improvements to the browser constantly. The main reason people switch from Firefox over to other browsers like Google Chrome is its high memory usage. While Firefox is the most flexible browser – you can do almost anything via extensions, it is also hugely memory consuming. Leave it running for sometime and it will start leaking memory. Worst scenario, it crashes the computer.
On my system, Firefox starts up (with all the default app tabs automatically open) taking about 200 MB memory and if it runs for 3 days constantly, it will go on to use about 1GB+ memory. It will keep on increasing until you close and open it again. Here are three tools that can help in reducing the memory usage and optimizing the performance of Firefox as a whole.
1. Firefox Plumber (FoxBoost)
Firefox Plumber is rather a new addition to the list of Firefox memory leak fixers. Firefox Plumber is a very simple standalone utility. Firefox Plumber sits in the system try in Windows and will try to close all the memory leaks instantly and automatically when they occur. This will ensure that Firefox does not take more memory than needed.
Firefox Plumber come in the form of a zip file. You must unzip to a folder of your choice and run from there. There is no configuration needed nor is any setting available from the utility. Just run the utility and it will start doing its work while sitting in the system tray. The executable file of Firefox Plumber is usually called foxboost.exe.
Firefox Plumber can be downloaded from the developer’s site.
SpeedyFox is the most popular utility to fix memory leakage and database optimization issues in Firefox. SpeedyFox actually takes a different approach and tries to optimize the startup time of Firefox by doing different optimizations. Firefox, when installed cleanly, is a very fast browser but it becomes slower and slower with the passage of time. There are several reasons behind the slowness of Firefox, including the fragmentation of the user profiles and growing database size. SpeedyFox will enhance the performance of Firefox by fixing these problems. It will defragment the fragmented user profiles which will help in quicker startup times and it will also fix the Firefox database which stores different user related data including browsing history, bookmarks, cookies and other settings.
SpeedyFox works on a per user profile basis. On its first run, it will automatically detect the default user profile in Firefox and offer to optimize it. You can also change the user profile for manual optimization. Another advantage of SpeedyFox is that it also comes in a portable flavor which means that you can also optimize the databases and user profiles of Firefox on any partition other than the active system.
SpeedyFox is available for Windows and Mac OS X and can be downloaded from the developer’s site.
3. Vaccuum Places Improved
Vaccuum Places Improved is the improved version of the popular tool Vacuum Places. It fixes Firefox database issue to improve startup times and overall response of the browser. Technically speaking, it will tweak and optimize the places.sqlite database – the place where Firefox stores annotations, bookmarks, forms data and browsing history.
After you have installed Vaccuum Places Improved, an icon will be added to the Firefox Taskbar. You can click on this icon to clean and optimize Firefox immediately. In the configuration option, you can check the checkbox “Automatically clean places” and change the option to whatever figure you want. The default is 50, which means that it will run automatically after you have started Firefox 50 times.
Install Vaccuum Places Improved from Mozilla add-ons site.
Tips for improving Firefox performance
Other than the above-mentioned software, here are some manual tweaks that I use to improve the performance of Firefox.
1. Check your installed add-ons.
You should make sure that any of the add-ons that make Firefox slow is not installed. Even if it is installed, it should be disabled normally and enabled only when needed. You can see the
list of slow performing add-ons (link is no longer valid) from Mozilla that make Firefox start slower than normal.
2. Keep your download list clean
Do you know that download list takes a long of time to load? If the list becomes too long, Firefox will start hanging for a short while when new downloads start. Please note that deleting download history will not delete your downloaded files. The files will remain in the download folder and only the history will be deleted.
Also, don’t forget to check out 4 other Firefox extensions to improve memory usage.
For advanced user, you can also check out the about:config means to improve your Firefox performance.
What other ways do you use to improve your Firefox performance?
Image credit: akamdar