Friday, 17 October 2008

Fattening fox

I have, albeit briefly, fallen out of love with my favourite browser - firefox.  We had a wonderful affair going back many years when all was perfect.  From when it initially poked its head through the holes left by the thundering internet exploriphant, which had terminally wounded the previous king of the jungle - netscape. 

Through thick and thin, when ff refused to load bookmarks or refused to put them in the correct locations, to losing all the passwords in a minor tiff!  Through all of that we patched up and roared on.

But with the growing popularity of the add-ons things took a slight turn for the worst.  Was it a badly written meal ff had digested, causing it to go a strange colour of blue?  No just a badly prepared theme i'd stupidly installed.  But its initial speed was slowing, on some occasions even taking longer to load a page than it took ie to load and be ready.  Blasphemy! 

The last time - when the camels back finally broke - ff was still loading up long after i'd loaded up chrome, checked my banking balance the weather and what was on at the local cinema before it sputtered onto screen.

What was going on?

A quick look through the trusty task manager brought up a few home truths.  Chrome with five tabs open was taking up only 56MB of ram. Firefox on the other hand (whilst still in its loading phase), was chugging through over 1.3GB of memory; before settling down to a relatively wieldy 215MB. 

The only thing that had changed was the inclusion of more add-ons (figure 1). New add-ons that are recommended by someone you know which they just can't live without, you just have to try.  That other slightly strange but winking at you add-on from the pages of the latest magazine to hit the door, or viewed on a site, all offer time saving, enjoyment having wasting more time than sense hours of fun. The time had arrived to ruthlessly remove all those juicy helpful helpers.  To return the browser to a state of speed and efficiency - you might even find it crashes less frequently too. 

Figure 1. Add-ons


Sigh, what to remove and what to keep...

  • The all-in-one sidebar I regularly use for its unabashed over helpful organisational abilities. 
  • The latest add-on was Tab Mix Plus, which looks good adds to the functionality but I can do without for the time being.
  • Scrapbook is good but somewhat duplicating Google notebook so that will have to go.
  • Fire gestures - mouse gestures certainly require that onboard.
  • Firebug haven't really used it so that can go.
  • As can answers since I now use ubiquity for so many things.

...and on you go, through each add-on and saying yes or no.  Once you've reached the end of your list, you can restart firefox.


Firefox now consumes just 165 MB of memory to open before settling down to a modest 152MB. By just removing 5 add-ons the start up time has dramatically improved, and as seen below its memory footprint is now more manageable.



The image following shows how the new look slimmed down version looks:



So if firefox is causing you problems it may more than likely be an arrant add-on.  The best thing is to start the browser in safe mode:

Start menu -> all programs -> mozilla -> mozilla firefox (safemode)

which will bring up the following window:


Simply check the disable all add-ons option and click the continue in safe mode.  If that works and it starts okay (best to wait before the wonder of watching it zoom along is lost), then it is with great probability your add-ons.

Go on a helpful worthwhile mission: the add-on decluttering mission, and watch ff fly.

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