22 Sept 2011

Faster Firefox 6

The last time I wrote about speeding up Firefox was in December 2010. Since then, Firefox has had several upgraded versions. Not to mention updates to the extensions I use. I found that my Firefox was a bit slow so I search around for some tweaks to recover the lost speed. I found this website helpful.

Warning: To be on the safe side, you should make a note of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ values of each tweak and (highly recommended) backup the Firefox preferences file that contains all the configuration options in case you want to revert back to your original settings…I take no responsibility for any damage any user does while following this guide.

You can use Mozbackup to backup your Firefox profile, including settings, extensions and passwords, in case of any mistake being made.

I noticed a significant difference after I applied the following tweaks:

Change the following preferences to the new values shown. If the preference is already set to this value then skip it and move on the next. If the preference does not exist then you need to add it:

browser.display.show_image_placeholders:   false

Stops the display of placeholders while images are loading to speed up the page. Default is True

content.notify.backoffcount:  5

Sets the maximum number of times the content will do timer-based reflows to 5. After this, the page will only reflow once it is finished downloading. This is a new value. Default is -1 (no limit)

content.notify.interval:   120000

Sets the minimum amount of time to wait between periodic reflowing of the page to 0.12 seconds – stops Firefox becoming slow by reflowing too frequently. This is a new value. Default is 120000

content.max.tokenizing.time:   360000

Sets the maximum amount of time Firefox will be unresponsive while rendering pages – set to 3 times the content.notify.interval above. This is a new value. Default is 360000

content.notify.ontimer:   true

Ensures Firefox does not reflow pages at an interval any higher than that specified by content.notify.interval above. This is a new value. Default is True

content.interrupt.parsing:   true

Sets Firefox to interrupt parsing a page to respond to UI (user interface) events to prevent it becoming unresponsive until parsing is complete. This is a new value. Default is True

content.switch.threshold:   750000

Sets the number of microseconds of inactivity that puts Firefox into low frequency interrupt mode. This is a new value. Default is 750000

network.prefetch-next:   false

Stops Firefox automatically prefetching (loading) the contents of pages linked to by the page you are viewing – in most cases you will never visit those links so this time is wasted and it is a security risk because you are unwittingly downloading (possible virus/adult) content only linked to by the current page but which you have not chosen to load. Default is True

network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server:   8

Increases the maximum number of persistent connections per server which can help speed up loading of multimedia rich sites. Default is 6

network.http.pipelining:   true

Can send multiple requests to a server together in order to speed up loading of webpages. This is not supported by ALL servers – some servers may even behave incorrectly if they receive pipelined requests. Default is False

network.http.pipelining.maxrequests:   8

Sets a maximum number of multiple requests that can be pipelined to prevent overloading the server. Higher values will cause a delay before the first request completes but will make the last request complete sooner. Higher values will also cause more of a delay if a connection fails. The maximum value is 8. Default is 4

network.dns.disableIPv6:   true

Disables IPv6 DNS lookups to prevent a significant delay with poorly configured IPv6 servers. Default is False

Finally, if you want Google searches in the address bar to search by name and go straight to the right website (e.g. NewYorkTimes would go straight to the nytimes.com website) rather than just perform a standard Google search:

keyword.url:   http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=

(Note: this is for google.com – you may want to change it to your own country version e.g. for UK just replace the google.com bit with google.co.uk)

Good luck, and happier browsing.