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Firefox is a Memory Hog - How to Reduce Firefox Resource Usage

I am a big fan of Firefox. I will often recommend Firefox to readers of this site, friends, and family. Firefox is very easy to use and has also proved itself to be one of the best browsers when it comes to security year after year. Firefox also is known for having great add-ons to the browser that are both useful and easy to use. Despite all of these great reasons to use Firefox, I have noticed that Firefox can be a bit of a memory hog at times. I have noticed it using over 1 GB of memory at times for my new PC. This large use of memory can surely contribute to a slow PC. In this article, we look at ways to reduce this memory usage.

Restart Firefox

The first and most obvious way to reduce the memory usage for Firefox is to restart the browser. The longer you have the Firefox browser open, the larger the cache will grow in memory. By restarting Firefox, you will clear all the caches out of the memory.

Reduce Session History in Firefox

The session history keeps track of the pages you visited in the past. This history is cached in memory and it is what allows you to hit the back and forward buttons. The default value for this is 50. You can reduce this to a number much lower such as 10.

To change this value, type "about:config" in the Firefox URL bar and click enter. You may be warned by Firefox. Click OK. Search for "browser.sessionhistory.max_entries" by using CTRL+F. Double click on the line item and change this to 10 or whatever value you want. Click OK and restart Firefox. That is it!

Reduce Add-ons, Themes, and Extensions

Despite how useful they are, some add-ons, themes, and extensions can increase Firefox resource usage. I recommend using only the extensions and add-ons that you really need. However, this is 100% a personal preference. If you are ok with a little extra memory usage, then keep the extension by all means.

If you decide you want to remove an extension, you can press CTRL+SHIFT+A to edit the extensions, add-ons, and themes.

Explicitly Set Firefox's Max Cache Size

Another thing you can do is to tell Firefox exactly how much memory it is allowed to use for its cache. You will want to be careful with this setting though. Giving it too small of a cache could slow down your browsing.

To do this, type in "about:config" in the address bar and click enter. If warned, click OK. Search for "browser.cache.memory.capacity" by using CTRL+F. Set the capacity keeping in mind that it is in Kilobytes (1024KB = 1 MB). For example, if you wanted to set this to 100 MB, then you would use 1024x100 = 102400 Kilobytes. I also want to point out that this is a setting that I personally have not changed. On my PC, I let Firefox determine the cache size based on my amount of memory.

Quick Tip: Check Memory Usage in Firefox

In Firefox, you can check to see how much and where memory is being used. To do this, simply type "about:cache?device=memory" into the URL bar and click enter. A webpage will be displayed that shows you memory cache for the browser. This is a cool feature included with Firefox to help you analyze how Firefox is utilizing memory.

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