TWEAK: Firefox Performance Tuning and Configuration

Are you using a performance tweaked machine? Tweaking is fun (others call it tuning) -- tweaking the operating system, tweaking the database, tweaking just about everything. Its like buying a car, chances are you will not be satisfied with it running stock. You'd want it faster, quicker -- PIMPED!

After performance tuning (or even hardening) Windows, you would want to tweak the browser next. And perhaps the browser you can always tweak at your disposal is Firefox. If you have used Firefox before, you will find that it is a fast browser. But you can make it faster -- you can tweak it!

To tweak Firefox, the settings under its hood can be found by putting "about:config" in the address bar. You will be prompted with a warning that "This might void your warranty!" (see below). Just promise to be gentle.

You may try to tweak the following settings one by one and see how your mileage varies. Input the tunables in the Filter text box and press [Return] or [Enter]. To make changes, right-click and Modify or double-click the tunable you wish to change.

WARNING! If you have limited memory please be careful in over-allocating memory to Firefox. Trust me, it will hog your computer's memory. If you are not sure about changing memory related tunables skip the first line below.

For reference as to the particulars of each parameter, you may refer to the entries in Mozillazine. The entries below are the tunable parameters with their recommended values. Try to experiment which values give you the most mileage.

  • browser.cache.memory.capacity -- 65536 (64MB)
  • browser.turbo.enabled -- true
  • network.http.max-connections -- 64
  • network.http.pipelining -- true
  • network.http.pipelining.firstrequest -- true
  • network.http.pipelining.maxrequests -- 4
  • nglayout.initialpaint.delay -- 0
  • browser.sessionstore.interval -- 3600000
  • content.notify.interval -- 500000
  • content.switch.threshold -- 250000
  • browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers -- 0
  • config.trim_on_minimize -- true

Some of the above tweaks automagically reflect without restarting Firefox, while others require a restart. I can't really point out which so I would recommend that you restart Firefox to checkout the effect of tweaking.

Once you have tried it out for yourself and verified the tweaks work for you, you may want to make them permanent and easy to move to a different computer or profile.

Locate the Firefox profile directory (usually "%appdata%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default). The target file is user.js. If it doesn't exist, create the file and open it with Notepad. Copy and paste the following code (replace the parameters with values applicable to your system):
///// start-copy-here /////
// Firefox tweaks
user_pref("browser.cache.memory.capacity", 65536);
user_pref("", false);
user_pref("browser.display.show_image_placeholders", true);
user_pref("browser.turbo.enabled", true);
user_pref("browser.urlbar.autocomplete.enabled", true);
user_pref("browser.urlbar.autofill", true);
user_pref("content.interrupt.parsing", true);
user_pref("content.max.tokenizing.time", 2250000);
user_pref("content.notify.backoffcount", 5);
user_pref("content.notify.interval", 750000);
user_pref("content.notify.ontimer", true);
user_pref("content.switch.threshold", 750000);
user_pref("network.http.max-connections", 64);
user_pref("network.http.max-connections-per-server", 12);
user_pref("network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy", 12);
user_pref("network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server", 6);
user_pref("network.http.pipelining", true);
user_pref("network.http.pipelining.firstrequest", true);
user_pref("network.http.pipelining.maxrequests", 4);
user_pref("network.http.proxy.pipelining", true);
user_pref("network.http.request.max-start-delay", 0);
user_pref("nglayout.initialpaint.delay", 0);
user_pref("plugin.expose_full_path", true);
user_pref("ui.submenuDelay", 0);
user_pref("browser.sessionstore.interval", 3600000);
// faster loading
user_pref("content.notify.interval", 500000);
user_pref("content.switch.threshold", 250000);
// less memory usage
user_pref("browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers", 0 );
user_pref("config.trim_on_minimize", true );
///// end-copy-here /////

The above is what I have on my Firefox profile. I enjoy using Firefox due to the tweaks you can apply to it, including the tons of add-ons.

Next, some aesthetic tweaks to Firefox. For now enjoy the speedy and responsive Firefox.

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