Posted by Mitch Mitchell 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.
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. 😉