Time doesn’t stand still however, and Firefox has matured over the years. This means great new features, but every change has the chance of causing a bug that degrades performance. Firefox shouldn’t feel slow, particularly when compared to Opera and Internet Explorer. If it does, try these tips and see if you can restore it to its full glory.
Step 1: Try Speedyfox
As you use and customize Firefox your data is stored in a profile, which is a SQLite database. Over time, customizations can pile on and the database can become slow, which in turn makes it so that Firefox runs slow but other browsers run fast. Plus there is always the slim possibility of an error or file corruption causing the issues with the database.
Speedyfox is a tool designed to solve this problem by compacting the database files. If you haven’t been using the browser for some time, it’s not likely that this will solve your Firefox woes. However, Speedyfox is a tiny download that takes seconds to run, so it’s worth a shot.
Step 2: Look For Troublesome Extensions
One of Firefox’s greatest strengths is its extension support. But that strength can sometimes be a weakness. There’s no Firefox police patrolling the extensions to make sure they all work together, that they all work with every version of Firefox, or that they work at all. It’s no surprise therefore that they can sometimes cause crashes, improper webpage rendering and performance issues.
Your first step is to check that extensions may be the source of the problem, which you can do by opening Firefox’s safe mode. Click the Firefox button, then go to Help and select Restart with Add-ons Disabled.
If Firefox’s performance is suddenly improved, the problem is likely an extension. To find the culprit you’ll have to disable the extensions one-by-one in Firefox until the performance issues are resolved. It’s tedious, but necessary.
Step 3: Check Other Software
Another possible source of Firefox performance issues is interference from another program. Firefox is pretty well known, so anti-malware software shouldn’t interfere with it in most cases. But most cases are not all cases.
Simply disable your anti-malware software and see if this resolves the problem. You should also be sure to update all critical plug-ins, such as Adobe Flash. An outdated version can, in rare cases, cause performance problems.
If your anti-malware is the issue, open up the software(s) permissions and make sure Firefox is a trusted program and has permission to communicate through your firewall. This should solve the problem. If it doesn’t, try uninstalling the anti-malware temporarily and then install an alternative free antivirus and free firewall.
Step 4: Consider Hardware Problems
Web browsers are rarely limited by modern computer hardware, but it is possible that hard drive issues could cause Firefox to run slow while other browsers run fast.
First, check to see if Firefox is installed on the same hard drive as your other browsers. If it isn’t, your performance problems might be caused by a problem with the hard drive’s performance. This is a likely cause if your performance issues are limited to the browser’s load times. If Firefox is not installed on the same drive as your other browsers, reinstall it on the same drive.
Another possible problem is drive fragmentation. This issue is not as common now that Windows performs scheduled defragmentation by default, but it’s still a possible sore spot on systems with Windows XP, or if you have disabled automatic defragmentation. The disk defragmenter can be brought up in Windows Vista or Windows 7 by searching for Disk Defragmenter in the Start Menu. XP users can find it by right-clicking on a drive volume, selecting Properties, and then opening the Tools tab.
Step 5: Nuke It From Orbit – Er, Reinstall
Reinstalling a program is the obvious final solution to any issue. It’s much like rebooting your computer to make a bug go away. It often works, but it’s far from elegant.
Using this as a solution is a tiny bit more difficult with Firefox because it conveniently saves all of your settings when you uninstall the browser. The browser you have when you reinstall will be basically the same as it was before.
It’s easy to solve this problem. There’s a critical checkbox labeled “Remove my Firefox personal data and customizations” that appears during the uninstall process. But fair warning – selecting it nukes everything related to Firefox, and you’ll be starting from scratch when you reinstall. Do this only as a last resort.
Hopefully these solutions will resolve your Firefox issues. They are in order from the least to the most extreme, so I recommend you follow them step-by-step. Don’t try two at once, or follow a solution half-way through. Fixing a bug causing performance issues means changing one variable at a time. Getting ahead of yourself could cause further headaches and false positives.