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Old March 20, 2011, 02:24 AM
xd_1771 xd_1771 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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Default A guide to optimizing your Mozilla Firefox browser performance

Just wrote this on overclock.net. Taking it straight from there now.

This one's for all you firefox loyalists there like me
Just a few tips I might share to speed up firefox performance...

  • 1. Tweak the profile/cache locations
    • A. If you have a solid state drive, move your profile to it by copying & pasting the folder, and then running "firefox.exe -profilemanager" via the run dialog or search box to select the new folder as the profile.
    • B. To prevent wrecking your SSD with repeated reads/writes, move your cache to another partition/your hard drive. This might help even if you don't have an SSD but have more than one HDD. To do this: go to "about:config", right click and select "New > String", in the first dialog box type/paste this: browser.cache.disk.parent_directory, and in the second one, type in where you want the new cache folder to go. In this directory a new "Cache" folder will be created automatically. I recommend the firefox appdata folder so it's easy to find.
  • 2. Make your actual browsing experience faster & less confusing
    • Reduce the amount of icons in your main toolbar and give more space to the address bar/search bar. I recommend moving most icons to a Vertical Toolbar (which only shows up when your mouse hits left side of screen).
    • Remove the status bar (if on an older version) and use addons to move your status bar icons around/tweak addons so that their status bar icons show up in the toolbars or vertical toolbar. Your mouse does not have to move so much to go between buttons anymore, thus making your browsing experience faster.
    • Install addons like NewTabJumpStart and Tab Utilities to take advantage of some empty spaces, access links and tabs faster, etc. Use the bookmarks toolbar to store frequently visited links; be sure to sort them, i.e. with separators or in folders.
  • 3. Reduce your profile clutter and optimize
    • Go to your extensions folder (located in your profile folder). Folders and files of previously uninstalled addons may remain; delete those, but know what you're deleting and be sure it was previously uninstalled!
    • In Firefox, go to Tools > Options > Security Tab; uncheck "Block reported web sites" and "Block reported web forgeries". Do this at your own risk, but on a system protected by antivirus and if you use addons such as Web of Trust, this feature is somewhat useless. Now for the real performance boost: go to your main profile folder and delete the file "urlclassifier3.sqlite". The file may appear to be somewhat big in size. When you restart firefox, this will be recreated automatically and be much smaller - and this will speed up your browsing.
    • Go back to the main profile folder. Delete these files:
      • urlclassifier3.sqlite (Mentioned earlier)
      • webappsstore.sqlite (Stores DOM Storage data; a new file will be created on next startup)
      • XUL.mfl (contains a cache of the UI; new file created on next startup)
      • formhistory.sqlite (Removes saved URLs in your addressbar/awesomebar. Remove if you want)
      • Places.sqlite** WARNING: Backup your bookmarks first. This is a big file and removing it may result in some nice performance benefit because it clears old bookmarks/history that don't get removed over time. A new file gets formed at startup, created with the latest bookmarks backup. This will also remove any saved bookmark favicons, items that may be crucial in helping you identify sites in your bookmarks.
    • Use SpeedyFox and/or CCleaner's "Compact databases" clean option. This will perform additional optimization on your sqlite files and other files in your profile.
  • 4. Install addons that help with webpage loading and viewing
    • For blocking ads/popups an flash objects (with ability to select only which ones you need to load), use Adblock Plus and NoScript.
    • Get Fasterfox lite. This will allow you to configure things such as browser pipelining, page load/render delays, cache sizes, and web page prefetching/superfetching in RAM. This one was probably one of the most significant improvements for me.
  • 5. Update to the latest version of Firefox (Version 4)
    • The optimizations in the latest version make it much worth it over previous versions. A final release should be out in a few days; even the release candidates are very good. A few addons might be sacrificed for this, but I say it's worth it.
  • 6. Finally, customize to your heart's content!
    • Use whatever other addons to help you in your web browsing voyages. Get UI addons, appearance addons, useful feature addons... whatever you want. Take advantage of the existing huge repository of firefox addons and user base.
    • Remember, minimize your addons/get addons that combine features. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!


Have fun on the interwebz then!

To end this off nicely, I'll tell a little story of my own. I've been a firefox user for a few years; I've been loyal, never switching, and adhering to new versions where possible. I can tell you that with firefox 4 now out soon, it's paid off. My personal browser is snappier than others such as chrome in all respects and I get to keep the level of customization & options I had before when firefox was king. Here's what my firefox interface looks like right now; perhaps something that might inspire you:
LINK TO IMAGE

A few tips for the firefox illiterate:
  • The default profile directory is usually in appdata by default; your firefox cache folder is in your profile directory.
  • Running "firefox.exe -profilemanager" via start menu > run (or search box) is basically launching a manager where you can manage multiple profiles to use, set profile directors, rename profiles, and create & delete them
  • about:config is like regedit in firefox, it's basically a settings repository with values. Modify at your own risk... adjust only the values you know which to adjust and that you need to adjust.
  • The status bar is on the bottom, but this is removed in firefox 4

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Last edited by xd_1771; March 20, 2011 at 02:30 AM.
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