Overclock.net › Articles › Xds Guide To Browisng Faster With Firefox Optimizations Etc

Xds Guide To Browisng Faster With Firefox Optimizations Etc

This one's for all you firefox loyalists there like me tongue.gif (functionality over page loading speed for the win!)

Just a few tips I might share to speed up firefox performance...


UPDATED: I have now realized that the Firefox cache is implemented on a per-tab basis, which is probably why Firefox uses so much RAM for me.  I have removed that portion of the article.  I certainly don't not recommend increasing firefox memory cache per-tab above the default value of up to 32MB, if you have the disk cache disabled, or if you use the back button often and are guarded by a monthly data limit such as some people in Canada.


  • 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 create a new profile and select the new folder to use as the files. You can delete the old profile afterwards. With your profile running off the SSD Firefox will load even faster. However, extra optimization will be needed from here.
    • B. To prevent wrecking your SSD life with repeated reads/writes, move your disk cache (if using) 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. You can delete the old firefox cache folder, which is in your firefox profile directory.
    • Use cache management tools such as CacheStatus to keep track of and control your browser cache use (i.e. to clear it when it gets too big).
  • 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. However, you can restore them with the CheckPlaces addon.
    • 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 Beef Taco.
    • 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. The latest release is the final version of Firefox 4. You may also be interested in alphas/betas of future versions. A few addons might be sacrificed for this, but I say it's worth it.
  • 6. Use an optimized version of firefox!
    • There are many versions of Firefox out there that are "optimized" for certain systems. i.e. Pale Moon is an SSE2-optimized version, and there are many other SSE2-optimized versions; the majority of processors you run are at the very least SSE2 enabled.
    • An excellent build made by a member of OCN for 64-bit systems called Waterfox is also an excellent choice. It is 64-bit, SSE2, SSE3 and MMX enabled. A thread concerning Waterfox with download links can be found here. Waterfox is what I personally use on my 64-bit system and it is noticeably much faster than original Firefox and perhaps even other competing browsers.
  • 7. Finally, customize to your heart's content!
    • Having a browser that is functional to you can make a huge difference over having slightly faster page loading speed, and that is why I can imagine many of you who are using Firefox are using it!  Use whatever other addons that can imrpove browser functonality in a way you can benefit. Get UI addons, appearance addons, useful feature addons... whatever you want. Take advantage of the existing huge repository of firefox addons and user base. There are many addons I may have not discovered that help with the browser itself's speed, and other addons will help improve the speed of your browsing habits!
    • Remember, minimize your addons/get addons that combine features. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!
  • 8. Remove/replace slow addons - Some addons (these ones according to mozilla) slow down the start time/performance more than others. You may want to look for alternatives for better performance; you can use my Awesome Addons list to help.

Remember: Functionality over page loading speed! That's why I use and heavily personalize my Firefox. Anyways, have fun on the interwebz! sniper.gif

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 or later.

Comments (5)

Awesome, cheers.
thanks! I just installed waterfox for the first time.. I realized it's not a standalone program? as it just starts my firefox.exe...
Waterfox uses an exe also named "firefox.exe". However, it runs as a 64-bit program, taking advantage of more RAM and being optimized for better performance as well.
Is this still applicable?
urlclassifier3.sqlite doesnt appear to be recreated after delete i just deleted those files and if anything FF seems slower
FF ver 17.0.1
win7 64
Overclock.net › Articles › Xds Guide To Browisng Faster With Firefox Optimizations Etc