Sunday, June 21, 2009

Firefox CAN be faster - 4 easy tricks

Now that we all know the hidden pages in Firefox, it’s time to go a bit deeper into tweaking your browser for optimal use. All of the operations will be made in the about:config page, so save your important stuff, open up a new tab, write about:config in the address bar and be prepared. I have gathered four tricks that will improve your Firefox experience, and here they are.

1. Fetch only pages that you click
Firefox mostly resembles to Google from this point of view. It has a built-in feature (enabled by default) that will pre-download the pages behind the links it thinks you MIGHT click. Google anticipates you might click the first result from the page, but how in the world can Firefox anticipate the link you’re going to click? Anyway, in my opinion this is just useless bandwidth usage, CPU power and HDD space. You’re practically downloading and storing pages you are not viewing. Here’s how you stop that in three simple steps.

In the about:config list, filter up your search after ‘network’ so it would be easier for you. Then, find through the remaining list options the key that says network.prefetch-next. It should be set to TRUE. Double click it, and it will turn to false. There we go, now Firefox will stop acting creepy and will only fetch what you click ;)

2. Limit the RAM usage
Although it’s not taking up THAT much memory as other browser, shortly, it still does. But you have a way to control that. It’s just a simple configuration setting and you’ll get the numbers to be more comfortable. Filter up your search after “browser.cache” and select browser.cache.memory.capacity from the remaining options. I believe the default setting goes all the way up to 50000, but there’s no need for that. You have to adjust the value depending on the amount of RAM memory you have installed. For RAM sizes between 512MB and 1GB, start with 15000. For RAM sizes between 128MB and 512M, try 5000, and you will be happy of the result.

3. Reducing the RAM usage even more when Firefox gets minimized
I got an extremely low usage on this one. Somewhere around 10MB, so it’s definitely a must-do. Basically, this will move Firefox to your hard drive when you minimize it, and as a result it will take up much less memory. It won’t even go back to the same high usage after you restore it. Even if Firefox will be located in your HDD instead of your RAM, I can assure you the restoration speed will be the same, with no delays.
All you have to do is right click your about:config page, select New and click Boolean. A box will appear and you will have to enter config.trim_on_minimize as value. The boolean value should be set to TRUE in the next screen, and that’s it. Test it after restarting Firefox.

4. Make pages load faster
Most browsers are configured for dial-up users. Tweak the settings for your optimal use. Filter out the list after “network” then search for the key that says network.http.pipelining and set it to TRUE. You may alter the key below (network.http.pipelining.maxrequests) and change it into a higher value - 10 for example. Voila, your pages will load much faster now.

This is just about it, and if you guys have any other tricks for improving the Firefox experience, we’ll be glad to hear them.
Firefox CAN be faster - 4 easy tricks

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