This article has been written specifically about improving the performance of the FireFox browser. If you are having problems regarding performance in general then I would suggest looking into other areas first before tweaking your browser settings.
I have written a specific article about performance tuning your PC, Network and Browser here: blog.strictly-software.com/2009/12/performance-tuning-your-pc-and-internet.html
The following guide should only be attempted by those people who are comfortable with changing core application settings. For those people who want to increase browser performance without fiddling about with the configuration I would recommend the following:
-Use the free to download application FireTune which will modify some of the same settings that I am going to list automatically.
-Use the TuneUp Utilities Application which will modify some FireFox settings as well as numerous other settings related to Browser performance, TCP/IP settings, Disk space, registry, un-used programs, CPU and Memory management and numerous other performance tweaks.
Otherwise go to about:config in the address bar of FireFox and enter the "here be dragons" section.
Most of these options will already exist but if they don't you can add them to the config by right clicking, selecting New (boolean, string, integer) adding the the correct name and then the correct value. Obviously if the value is a number you choose integer and if its true or false boolean otherwise its a string.
Before doing any changes you should make a backup either manually by writing down current settings or using FireTune to do a backup or just copy the current settings from C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\defaults\pref. Obviously if you saved your version of Firefox somewhere other than Program Files then you should look there.
Do a page load speed test before and after any changes from www.numion.com/stopwatch to see if the changes have made any difference always making sure that the browser cache is cleared before each test to make the comparisons fair.
To find out what each tweak does just append the full name to this URL
network.http.max-connections = 30
network.http.max-connections-per-server = 15
network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy = 24
network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server = 8
The following option depends on your RAM
- For RAM over 2GB I use 65536
- For RAM sizes between 512MB and 1GB, start with 15000.
- For RAM sizes between 128MB and 512M, try 5000
The following article will list out the default values for this option.
browser.cache.memory.capacity = 65536 (see above for details)
network.dnsCacheEntries [integer] 255
network.dnsCacheExpiration [integer] 86400
This setting will disable 3rd party cookies from being saved. The possible values are 0 which accepts all cookies, 1 only accept cookies from the same server and 2 disable all cookies. Set it to 1 to block 3rd party cookies.
Optional - May increase performance but will also reduce usability so choose carefully
Limits the maximum number of pages stored in memory in such a way that they don’t have to be re-parsed when pressing Back and Forward. If you, like me, are not using the Back and Forward buttons that much but rather tabs then I see no reason for Firefox to keep a lot of memory with this.
browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers change to 1 (default: -1)
Disable Extension Compatibility Checks so that each time you load Firefox it doesn't check for new versions of your extensions. You must remember to do this manually from time to time if they stop working though!
extensions.checkCompatibility = False
extensions.checkUpdateSecurity = False
Stop Displaying Website Icon (Favicon) in Address bar & On Tab
browser.chrome.site_icons = False
Cool tweaks - Non Performance related
layout.spellcheckDefault 2 - extend spellcheck to form elements inputs as well as textareas
browser.blink_allowed = false - 'disable blinking text from <blink>
browser.search.openintab true - opens any search results from the search bar in a new tab instead of overwriting existing one
Open View Source in your favourite editor e.g Editplus
view_source.editor.path= Path of Editor e.g C:\Program Files\EditPlus 2\editplus.exe
You also often have a lot of tabs open? This setting will decrease the minimum width of the tab so that more fits in before you need to scroll to see more tabs.
browser.tabs.tabMinWidth change to 70
To Enable Single Click Select URL of address bar use the below about:config Tweak
browser.urlbar.clickSelectsAll = True
To disable Single Click Select
browser.urlbar.clickSelectsAll = False
Auto Complete URL while You type at address Bar
This is a good hack to trim down that huge auto-complete list on your URL bar. By default it displays maximum 12 URL
browser.urlbar.maxRichResults (pick a number from 1 to 12)