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Mozilla Firefox is still among the most popular web browsers today. But the more you use it, the slower it seems to get. So what can you do when Firefox is running slow while other browsers are still fast?

We’ve talked about some of the simple ways to speed up Firefox Speed Up Firefox Immediately With These 6 Simple Tweaks Speed Up Firefox Immediately With These 6 Simple Tweaks Browser speed these days actually comes down to performance and how you use the program. For Mozilla Firefox users, this means choosing the right settings, the right extensions, and tab management. Here's how. Read More , and that’s where you should start. There are easy extensions for apps like disabling Pocket and other integrations, and finding the most memory-draining apps.

While these changes will make your Firefox faster than ever before, you still need to make sure it’s as fast as other browsers. So what can you do about that?

Note: Before you do any of these tweaks, you should download or update to the latest version of Firefox by going to About Firefox.

1. Firefox Takes Longer to Start Than Other Browsers

Once you have had Firefox installed for some time, it can take a long time to start up. Meanwhile, browsers like Chrome, Edge, and Safari seem to launch immediately. Here’s what you can do to make Firefox boot faster.

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  1. Go to about:preferences and in General, uncheck the box for Always check if Firefox is your default browser.
  2. Go to about:preferences and in General, go to When Firefox Starts and select Show a blank page.

2. Firefox Takes Too Much CPU or RAM

Your computer’s hardware as well as what other apps you are running will affect a browser’s performance. Chrome is known to hog too much RAM Why Is Chrome Using up So Much RAM? (And How to Fix It Right Now) Why Is Chrome Using up So Much RAM? (And How to Fix It Right Now) But why does Chrome use up so much RAM, especially compared to other browsers? And what can you do to keep it in check? Read More , but Firefox can also do that after many years of usage.

In such a scenario, first try restarting Firefox in Safe Mode. This will make Firefox run without any add-ons or plugins. To do this, go to Options (the three-line icon at the extreme right of the URL bar) > click the Question Mark icon > and click Restart with Add-ons Disabled.

Firefox will restart and display two options: Start in Safe Mode or Refresh Firefox. Choose Start in Safe Mode.

Firefox Safe Mode GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

If Firefox runs faster in Safe Mode, then you know the problem lies in one of the add-ons or plugins. Disable all add-ons, and restart Firefox. Then enable one add-on at a time, and see which one causes the problem.

In case Safe Mode doesn’t make any difference, then Firefox’s tabs are probably to blame. Install the Auto Unload Tab extension, which will automatically unload the resources used by an inactive tab. You can even set it to automatically close an inactive tab after a set time.

Download: Auto Unload Tab for Mozilla Firefox 48+ (Free)

3. Firefox Is Slow Even with Top-Notch Hardware

Firefox can sometimes run slow even on machines with excellent hardware. That’s usually because the browser is being conservative in how to improve your performance. But you can open up the hood and give that a boost.

Go to about:preferences and in General, scroll down to Performance. Uncheck the box for Use recommended performance settings.

  1. Check the box for Use hardware acceleration when available. With this tweak, Firefox will use the graphics card instead of the processor for major visuals. So whether you’re watching YouTube or playing a web browser game, you will get much smoother performance.
  2. Change Content Process Limit to four or more. Firefox recommends increasing it to more than four if you have at least 8GB RAM.

Content Process Limit is a function of Firefox’s new Electrolysis or multi-process architecture. With this, each tab runs as a separate instance of Firefox, thus getting access to more hardware resources. It also enables sandboxing for security, making Firefox comparable to Chrome and Edge Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox The browser you're using right now may not be the best one for you. The browser arena changes so frequently that your conclusions from comparisons made last year may be completely wrong this year. Read More .

In case the Content Process Limit is greyed out, you need to enable multi-process Firefox:

  1. Go to about:config
  2. Search for browser.tabs.remote.autostart
  3. Double-click it to change the Preference value to true
  4. Restart Firefox

4. Speed Tweaks a.k.a. SpeedyFox

We always recommend tweaking about:config settings 6 Useful about:config Tweaks You Should Know for Firefox 8+ 6 Useful about:config Tweaks You Should Know for Firefox 8+ Are you browsing this article in Firefox? If not, go ahead and fire up the browser and take a look at all the options you can change. It’s pretty easy to customize Firefox, right? Especially... Read More rather than using extensions. Extensions add more bloat to your browser, after all. But if you aren’t comfortable with messing around with settings, an extension will make sure you don’t break anything.

Speed Tweaks or Speedyfox the oldest and more reliable trick in Firefox, but hey, if it ain’t broke…

  1. Download and install the extension
  2. Go to Tools > Add-ons > Speed Tweaks (SpeedyFox) > Preferences
  3. Click Apply in Set recommended values for all preferences
  4. Restart Firefox

The extension will automatically apply all the about:config tweaks you find on various sites. You can also customize any of values through this preferences page.

Download: Speed Tweaks a.k.a. SpeedyFox for Mozilla Firefox (Free)

5. If All Else Fails, Refresh Firefox

If all else fails, it’s time to go back to a clean installation of Firefox. But you don’t have to start from scratch all over again.

Much like operating systems, the browser now has a one-click option to return to the default Firefox state before you made any changes. Specifically, it will remove all add-ons and customizations, and restore browser settings to defaults.

  1. Go to about:support
  2. In Give Firefox a tune up, click Refresh Firefox…
  3. In the dialog box that shows up, click Refresh Firefox once again

Firefox will shut and restart in a few seconds. Smartly, while all the performance and settings revert to default, Firefox saves your personal information, including bookmarks, history, passwords, cookies, auto-fill information, and your dictionary. So it’s like a new Firefox with all your data already loaded.

Ex-Firefox Guy Says Remove Your Anti-virus

The last tip is a controversial one. Former Firefox developer Robert O’Callahan says that your antivirus is why Firefox is running slow. And he recommends disabling it altogether. In a blog post, he explained how the antivirus affects performance and even slows down updates.

Do you think O’Callahan is right about not needing an antivirus? Are Firefox’s security add-ons Completely Secure: 11 Must-Have Firefox Addons For Security Completely Secure: 11 Must-Have Firefox Addons For Security Think about the browser you're using to view this article right now. Is it safe? Is it secure? You'd be surprised by those answers. Read More enough to protect you?

Image Credit: Albert999 via Shutterstock.com

Originally written by Matt Smith on May 10, 2011

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  1. alex
    August 23, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Fire Fox is the most comfortable car on the highway. Not the fastest and not the most economical but it is so flexible and comfortable that for me it is the choice for 15 years. I tried others ... but I quickly returned home ... to the fox I know and cherish

  2. Ashton
    August 22, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    1. Install Vivaldi.
    2. Profit?

  3. fcd76218
    August 22, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    "Do you think O’Callahan is right about not needing an antivirus?"
    He's entitled to his opinion. I certainly will not uninstall my A/V and I don't even use Windows.

    "Are Firefox’s security add-ons enough to protect you?"
    They're better than nothing but the only way to be 100% protected is to be totally disconnected from the 'Net. Although even that may not be true any longer as there have been stories of 'air gapped' systems that have been compromised.

  4. anthony
    July 10, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    if firefox is slowing down and freezing and you have ad block or ad block pro uninstall it and install ublock. I have been uninstalling & going back to older versions withy no luck turns out it's that F'n Ad block. I would watch youtube and after a feww minutes my screen would freeze and have to do ctrl-alt-del. After dumping ad block and installing ublock no hangs anymore

  5. Anonymous
    September 24, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Okay, I will try the new Firefox for a while. So far, no problems on PC.

  6. Anonymous
    September 24, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    I like what Firefox stands for. I love the ads. But when I try to load it, and it takes 15 seconds, I reach for Chrome. Firefox is always updating something just when I need it most.

    • CodeLurker
      July 4, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Turn off Automatic Updates!

  7. Thorsk
    May 4, 2015 at 7:39 am

    The second one worked for me, thanks!

  8. Mozilla Morons
    February 27, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Step 6: Uninstall piece-of-crap Firefox and install another browser.

  9. Rglynn1
    August 5, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Firefox is as big a joke as Chrome with it's message that it cannot connect.  That makes both of these browsers "not fast".

    • asdf
      June 6, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      If you're getting messages that your browser can't connect, you're doing something wrong.

  10. Rglynn1
    August 5, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I have never knowingly added an extension.  Using FF 5.0.1. - 2yr old Macbook w/ 4 G mem. right now -  continually slows and stalls as multiple tabs stay open - stalls all applications - and the whole computer.  This has been a problem on Mac and PCs for prob'ly (at least) 3 yrs.  My "Fix" is to 'force quit' Firefox and then all is well.  Nothing has changed - this problem used to be called 'memory hog' problem (or something similar). 

  11. LSD
    June 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Firefox 4 is horrible on old computers 3-4yr old machines or newer it should run fine but anything older your better off sticking with 3.6

  12. Alexandra Lawrenz
    May 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Recently, browsers like Firefox have  become less cluttered, are faster when
    launching websites and include a ton of new features with every new release.
    However, I’ve noticed that certain add-ons still have a negative effect on all
    these great improvements. If you’re finding that Firefox is running slower, you
    should check for poorly written add-ons that might be causing this to happen.
    Mozilla actually created an entire site to list the top 9 low-performance add-ons, and you can check it out right here. I also put together a blog post
    that outlines how you can get rid of these slow add-ons if you’re interested: http://bit.ly/jpz5KQ

    • Tina
      May 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm

      Thank you for the insight, Alexandra!

  13. Jagadish
    May 12, 2011 at 7:06 am

    @KiLotr:disqus. yeah creating a new profile will do the job. it helps you to run Firefox faster. here is how your can create a new profile without add-ons for Firefox in Windows

  14. Jagadish
    May 12, 2011 at 5:06 am

    @KiLotr:disqus. yeah creating a new profile will do the job. it helps you to run Firefox faster. here is how your can create a new profile without add-ons for Firefox in Windows

  15. Jack Cola
    May 11, 2011 at 6:11 am

    I am not sure about others, but after upgrading to FireFox 4, from FireFox 3.6, my browser, on multiple PC's because unresponsive more often.

    I am really thinking about downgrading FireFox. Does anyone else agree with me?

    • Tina
      May 12, 2011 at 9:45 am

      I cannot confirm your observation, Jack.

      For me Firefox became faster when I upgraded to version 4. I did have two or three occasions when Firefox froze, but I was playing with addons, so that may have been unrelated. No issues since, works great! Needs more system resources, but it's a lot faster and more responsive than the 3.x version.

    • joe popo
      June 1, 2011 at 6:53 am

      Yes you are right. Mozilla has issued an info about this glitch. This was caused by plugin-container.exe.

      • Jack Cola
        June 1, 2011 at 7:19 am

        Thanks for this. I noticed, especially on my mums laptop that when that hangs, I end task that program and it fixes itself up. I also have to end that .exe when Adobe reader doesn't load properly within FF.

  16. Philharmania
    May 11, 2011 at 1:51 am

    I simply don't believe you can speed up Firefox by reinstalling it. Instead, starting a new profile would be a better bet. Then again, I never care about the speed of my Firefox because internet connection speed is still my major bottleneck. I keep it open almost 24/7 on my Ubuntu machine and its performance is consistently satisfactory.

  17. Faizuddin Yusof
    May 11, 2011 at 12:31 am

    can it be used by cometbird?

    • M.S. Smith
      May 11, 2011 at 3:08 am

      I don't know, sorry. I haven't used Cometbird.

  18. Gonzalo Novoa (KiLotr)
    May 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Creating a new firefox profile without addons is my favorite way to do it. run: firefox.exe -p and create a new fresh clean profile. I can't remember how to do it in OSX but last time it was a google search away.

    • Karen
      May 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      Great advice. Thank you :)

    • M.S. Smith
      May 11, 2011 at 3:07 am

      Yep, this work too. Worth a shot if Speedyfox doesn't do it.