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Is Firefox Slow? Yes And No…

Posted by on Feb 9, 2012

Back in October I wrote a post titled Firefox vs. Chrome where I mainly talked about how I liked Firefox versus Chrome for its customization and how it seemed that more sites I followed or checked on got more traffic from people using either Firefox or Internet Explorer, which I don’t like but it is what it is, instead of Chrome. At that time part of the discussion in comments was how Chrome ran much faster than Firefox, and I really couldn’t disagree with it, but stated that the customization was what kept me with Firefox.


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I do have to admit that sometimes the slowness of doing some things in Firefox got on my nerve. Copying and pasting things shouldn’t take any time at all, but sometimes things would hang up. I noticed whenever I wanted to download anything that the download window took exactly 8 seconds before the OK button would highlight, and then another 5 seconds before the explorer window would come up so I could select where I wanted to save something. Frankly it was starting to get on my nerves.

Notice I’m saying everything in a past tense? No, I haven’t left Firefox. Instead, I thought it was time to see if what the Mozilla people were saying all along, that Firefox was indeed as fast as Chrome, but what slowed things down here the add-ons that make the browser fun, things that Chrome doesn’t come close to having. Yes, experiment time!

I went into Tools then Add-ons and then Extensions. I had “only” 14 extensions running live on the browser, and in my mind I didn’t think that was too many. But I had to disable some of them for this test. I disabled everything except 3 things. I kept the Adblock Plus pop-up blocker because I absolutely hate those things. I kept my Multirow Bookmarks Toolbar so I could keep the 3 rows that I love so much on the browser. And I kept the Search Status plugin because that’s the biggie for me in checking webpage stats. Everything else had to go for the moment. I then hit restart and wondered what would happen.

What happened? It popped back up almost immediately, and suddenly everything was fast and immediate. See, the thing the Mozilla people have said all along is that except for Adblock Plus they they don’t make any of the other extensions; well, they don’t make many of them. These are added by other people who access the open source software and create either a need or a luxury. Some of them are created by companies such as Skype or Zone Alarm or even AVG to integrate with your browser to better communications or safety. In that instance it’s not the fault of the Mozilla folks that the browser slows down, or that it starts consuming a lot of resources, which used to shut down my computer until I upgraded to Windows 7.

I tested it for about 4 hours and the speed was amazing. It seemed to run as fast as Chrome and Opera, which still touts itself as the fastest browser online. If Firefox is slower than those other two, it’s negligible at this juncture because I’m not waiting for anything.

I was a happy guy… sort of. I’d gotten rid of a lot of things, but now I wanted to see what would happen if I added a couple more back. I did it piecemeal, to see if any one of these might slow things down. I started with the Download Status Bar, which I figured was the least intrusive, and my speed maintained itself. Then I realized that I needed to add Greasemonkey back because that added the option of being able to download YouTube videos, which I’d lost by turning it off. I restarted the browser and things were still fine. One last thing, and this was truly my luxury item. I wanted to see if I could add Stylish, which changes the look of many websites for my browser, without losing speed. I did that and my speed stayed the same; whew!

Which ones didn’t I add back? I left off AVG Safe Search, Colorful Tabs, Microsoft Framework .Net Assistant (I have no idea what that even does and I don’t remember adding it), Read It Later, Rank Checker, SEO for Firefox, Weather Watcher and Adblock Plus Pop-on Addition, which brings extra strength to the original Adblock Plus and works great.

I will be removing most of these since I’ve decided I’m not going to use them anymore, but some I’m going to keep and load only when I need to run them. Rank Checker is a great tool because you can use it to check your keyword rankings on 3 search engines at the same time, and if you have multiple phrases you want to check it’s perfect for that. I’m keeping the extra Adblock Plus because there are some websites I go to that always open up new windows that that’s irritating. And I’m keeping SEO for Firefox because it’s another great tool for checking SEO stats on websites. The others… they just have to go, and removing things instead of leaving them disabled supposedly helps speed as well.

Is Firefox slow? Not anymore! If it is for you maybe you should try my experiment, and then if it works see what you can live without. I did the same thing on my laptop and it was amazing, but since I didn’t have all the same add-ons there as on the main computer I didn’t add much back. Go ahead, try it. 😉
 

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23 Comments »

I gotta say, I use both Firefox and Chrome. Chrome for work mainly, Firefox for one single specific reason: Chrome doesn’t work good when I run it along with World of Warcraft, and I have no idea why. Firefox works fine, so yeah that’s about it.
I still consider Chrome much sleeker, it might be a feeling ’cause I didn’t really test it scientifically, what I did test though is that some features of some websites simply don’t work on Firefox. For example, Soundcloud has got HTML5 playback enabled just on Chrome and Safari, not Firefox.
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February 9th, 2012 | 12:17 PM

Gabriele, all these browsers now following the same standards start to get on one’s nerves after awhile. I tried pulling up a site days ago and got a warning that it wasn’t optimized for Opera or Chrome; what the heck is that? But at least my test showed me that Firefox can indeed be as fast as Chrome, at least in my mind.

February 9th, 2012 | 5:06 PM

For sure number of extensions matters a lot, Firefox was having problems with caching and hanging up in one of the previous releases, but now seems to be very stable. I think I have mention in one of previous posts – all the time I am browsing there are at lease 2 browsers open. Usually for testing purpose, but at lease visually it seems that everything looks exactly the same on Chrome and Firefox and the speed is comparable, excepts Youtube and website in Google network which I think are done to work faster on Chrome deliberately.

February 9th, 2012 | 9:00 PM

I didn’t test the difference on YouTube Carl, but you could be right because lately I’ve noticed a lot of buffering issues coming from there.

February 10th, 2012 | 1:37 AM

Straight to the point, Mitch. Especially different for Youtube. I’ve recently discovered the difference, as I was trying to show a video on Youtube to a customer on free wifi at a coffee bar. After that I measure this at home, limiting the bandwidth of my internet.

February 10th, 2012 | 9:19 PM

Hello Mitch,
thanks for this info. I was using both Firefox and Chrome, but after a couple of weeks i decided to stick to Firefox. well, at least to me it seamed to work better.

February 9th, 2012 | 10:04 PM
Catherine:

I really agree that Firefox is so slow..I like using Google..Thanks a lot for sharing this post to us..
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February 10th, 2012 | 7:15 AM
Olawale Daniel:

For me here on my website, Firefox is too slow and I don’t really like how things is going, I have to consider Chrome in exchange for it. Thanks for sharing this post @Mitch
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February 10th, 2012 | 7:38 AM

No problem Olawale. Browsers are a personal choice thing but I wanted to dispel speed issues.

February 10th, 2012 | 2:34 PM

That’s interesting to know Mitch; as a Chrome user I just assumed it was intrinsically faster than Firefox, which you have obviously disproved. I am guessing all the extra’s slow down Explorer as well, which is extremely sluggish for me. It’s totally unresponsive when I ask for the source code of high kb web pages.

February 10th, 2012 | 9:33 AM

You know Richard, people read things and often go with it but I’m not that type. It’s still possible that Chrome eke’s out in speed, but based on observation if it’s the case it’s not noticeable. And I get to have my add-ons as well. Lol

February 10th, 2012 | 2:37 PM
Julia:

I have never used Chrome, I did not really like the layout. 🙂 You know, I am a woman.
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February 10th, 2012 | 4:49 PM
Val:

I have got my add ons in Firefox down to three or four. I removed some for the same reason – it slowed down the browser. I couldn’t do without add-block, I love search, and I’ve got a silly little color picker but I think I might get rid of that. I doubt it slows anything but I rarely use it. There’s something else I have but I’ve forgotten what it is.

The Framework net assistant is a total pain. I remove it and it gets added back, I think that happens when I update, I’m not sure. It’s pretty useless to me. I’ve forgotten what it’s for but I’m pretty sure I don’t have anything it’s used for anyway!

February 10th, 2012 | 7:12 PM

It’s useless to me as well Val. I have no idea what it’s for, but until something doesn’t work I’m not feeling all that inclined to look it up either. 🙂

February 10th, 2012 | 11:43 PM
Ken:

Hi
If you’re doing any indepth SEO, Firefox has so much more scope for analysis than Chrome or Internet Explorer, it’s well worth a few seconds to get all that info – and to be sure that it’s reliable

February 11th, 2012 | 10:24 AM
Kevin:

Mitch I am on a same boat with you 🙂 still using firefox, but I would like it to be more fast like chrome. There is well-known solution available – it is SSD! Firefox will start instantly, pages will render in a no time. I highly recommend anybody to try to switch and see the difference, you will enjoy!
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February 11th, 2012 | 7:32 PM

Maybe Kevin, but SSD is also very expensive for what one gets. I’ve thought about it but not ready to go that route just yet.

February 12th, 2012 | 8:54 AM
Joyce12:

I use both Firefox and Chrome but for me Firefox is still the best browser I’ve ever used. There’s a time that Firefox is always crashing but still I used it. I just uninstall it and install again. I’m happy using Firefox.

February 13th, 2012 | 1:21 AM

Joyce, my Firefox browser was always crashing as well but it doesn’t happen since I made some changes to plugins. Check out this post I wrote about it and what I did: http://www.imjustsharing.com/why-i-left-firefox-for-chrome-and-why-i-came-back/

February 13th, 2012 | 10:50 PM
Connie:

I’ve used both and in my opinion for versatility and plugin capability, Firefox is by far the better browser… and as you point out Chrome can seem faster but really isn’t when you compare it against bare-bones Firefox. The great thing I gather from your post is that some add-ons will affect firefox speed and performance more than others so we have to find that happy medium between speed and ‘bells and whistles’… Great post Mitch, I enjoyed reading it!
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February 14th, 2012 | 9:34 PM

Thanks Connie. I guess Chrome has some add-ons as well but I don’t know if any of those affect its speed. I’m a big Firefox guy which is why I had to run my test; glad you liked the results.

February 15th, 2012 | 9:59 AM
JoshuaReen:

I have been using firefox for the last 5 years, and still I am using it. I don’t think that it is slow. It is better than all browsers in terms of its own performance and also in showing the webpages. I have searched around the web and found discussion about it, tips to increase its performance. The best tip I found to increase the speed is “rejuvenate the aged copy of Firefox”. It is a step by step process. You can find the full process below.

http://www.techyv.com/questions/why-my-browser-perform-very-slow

This process is the best I have found ever around the web, and I often speed-up my firefox using t his process.

March 8th, 2012 | 2:52 AM

Truthfully Joshua, I don’t think anyone really even needs to rejuvenate anything. All I did was see which plugins I didn’t need anymore and my speed jumped dramatically.

March 8th, 2012 | 8:58 AM