27 February, 2008

Improve Firefox performance

Seems like whatever application we use, it's never fast enough for us. And of course in today's computer world, all our applications are on the network, which is just one more bottleneck. Well if you're browsing the Internet, it can now happen faster. I have found 3 options for improving the performance of Firefox -- choose 1 based on your level of expertise.

Option 1. For the person who just wants their computer to work, there is FireTune from Totalidea Software. Totalidea Software has created a small application that will backup and modify your Firefox configuration to optimize the performance of the browser. You tell it if you have a fast or slow computer and a fast or slow Internet connection, and FireTune will do the rest. In addition, FireTune offers some additional optimizations (Other optimizations tab) that should improve the performance for all Firefox users.
What I like about FireTune is that you don't need to be a computer geek and get under-the-hood to improve the performance of Firefox... unless you go to the Other optimizations tab or the Other useful setting tab. Why couldn't Totalidea Software apply the "other optimizations" automatically when the tuning is being done and leave the rest of the options out of the tool?

So if you just want your computer to work...
  1. Get FireTune
  2. Make the appropriate selection for your computer and connection speeds
  3. Select "Enable some performance tweaks common to all configurations" from the Other optimizations tab
  4. Select Tune it!
  5. Don't worry about the rest
Option 2. If you like a bit more control over the tuning of your browser, but still do not relish the idea of hacking away at all the Firefox configuration options and you want to know more specifically what changes are being made to improve its performance, then get the Fasterfox Extension for Firefox. Fasterfox is an open project so in addition to making your own performance tunes, you can be a part of the community of Fasterfox.
With Fasterfox, it can actually be simpler than FireTune in that you can select one of the preset options on its main screen, or you can select Custom for complete control over the exposed configurations. The Fasterfox options include:
  • Ability to prefetch URLs on the page
  • Adjust browser cache and dns cache
  • Adjust the number of http connections
  • Enabling pipelining
  • Adjust Initial Paint Delay and Sub-menu Delay
  • Enable blocking of pop-ups from Flash
Option 3. If Firetune still doesn't offer you the amount of control that you want or if you just like to turn the knobs yourself, Computer World has a great article to get you started. Hacking Firefox: The secrets of about:config will guide you through speeding up page load times, reducing memory issues, and other tweaks for geeks. For example, you can learn how to adjust the width of tabs before the scroll is enabled (for additional tabs).

The Computer World article is divided in 6 sections:
  1. Before you begin (i.e. backup and log changes)
  2. Speed up page display
  3. Have tabbed browsing your way
  4. Make the user interface behave
  5. Hack network connections
  6. Stop memory hogging
Have you decided what route is best for you? If you're like me, use Fasterfox for the performance tweaking and then change about:config with Computer World's guidance to fine tune my browsing. I'll close by reminding you of an earlier post on about:config -- this was an overview of some of the many changes you can make to customize Firefox to work the way you want it to work.

No comments: