firefox using less memory

I love Firefox! Using it since it’s early days, back in 2004, we did have time to talk and get to know each other. As any other love affair, there’s a thing I don’t like about FF: it’s memory use.

Sometimes I open like 70-80 tabs at once, on one or two windows. I’ve seen my memory use get up to 300MB. And I’m sure some of you have used even more. Well, there are a few things we can do about that, and they are all on your about:config page.

First, head to the about:config page as you would do with any other web page, like Google. It is a special page, and your browser will change a bit, to display a list of internal configurations. On the left you find the name of the property and on the rightmost column, it’s value. Bold lines have been changed from it’s default.

If you find here an option that isn’t listed, right click a blank spot of the page and choose the New Option item menu (it’s a free translation, my FF is in brazilian portuguese), choosing the adequate data type.

Now to the options:

browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers: this setting tells FF how many pages it should keep in memory already parsed. It’s different from the disk cache, that keeps only the files, wich still need to be parsed. -1 indicates FF will set a value based on your memory size. I like to keep it at “1” or “2”. Each page uses around 4MB of memory, and this setting works on each tab. So, if you set it to “3” and have 10 tabs opened, you will have 30 pages on memory.

config.trim_on_minimize: this settings tells FF if it should allow Windows to “steal” it’s memory when minimized for a certain amount of time. Setting this value to true will enable it at the cost that Firefox will take longer to be restored from the taskbar.

 browser.cache.memory.enable: this setting allows images, chrome and secure pages to be cached in memory. It is turned on by default, and I like to keep it that way. It affects the next setting which is

browser.cache.memory.capacity: it tells how much memory should be used on the items of the previous setting. On a  1GB systems, it defaults to 32MB. Like on max_total_viewers, -1 means that FF will try and find the “best” value for you. I keep it at 4096 (4MB).

Keep in mind, though, that these settings are not magic, and you will still have memory problems with Firefox, only less often.

~ by Dante Regis on February 24, 2007.

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