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Firefox may be my browser of choice but there are times when it is REALLY slow, so slow in fact that I am sorely tempted to defect to Opera or even *gasp* Safari!

It’s sometimes even worse when you’re opening up Firefox. You click on that little Fox icon and it sits there thinking “hmmm….he wants me to start up…will I or won’t I? Let’s think about it for a few minutes”. Meanwhile you’re sitting there gnashing your teeth and flirting with the idea of walking on the wild side with Flock.

But you don’t have to wail and despair any more! During a little stroll through SourceForge, I found an interesting program called Firefox Preloader which was short on technical details but long on prospects. It claims to be able to “improve Firefox’s start-up time”.

Now at this point, you’re probably very cynical about anything that claims to be able to speed up Firefox. After all, a quick Google search on “optimizing Firefox” or “speed up Firefox” brings back countless hits (some of them totally useless) and often, messing around with the “about:config” section of Firefox can harm the browser more than it can help it. So I didn’t immediately fall head over heels in love with Firefox Preloader. I too had my healthy dose of scepticism. However, overwhelming curiosity won the day and I decided to see if it really did work.

preloaderoptions.gifFrom the little I was able to find out, Preloader pre-loads various parts of your Firefox browser into the memory (presumably the most important parts) so that when you want it to start, it is able to open much faster than normal. In fact when I clicked on the Fox logo to start the browser, it shot open like a politician being caught in a brothel with his pants down. The tabs fired open one by one as if they had drank five cups of coffee each. Firefox is now so fast it’s unnerving me.

If you feel the need, you can “unload” what Preloader has loaded into memory and tell it to “reload” Firefox (see the menu to the left). You can access this menu by a small Firefox icon which appears in your system tray. You can also tell Preloader to start up when Windows starts and you can also tell it where to find Firefox in your computer by specifying the path in your PC.

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You’re probably wondering how much CPU this program uses up. Well I can tell you – virtually nothing. In fact it barely registers at all. It rarely goes above 4000k and 0% CPU.

  1. photoshop restoration and retouching
    May 28, 2009 at 1:34 am

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  2. Devicepedia
    October 30, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Thanks man, im a pro fox and everything useful to it is appreciated, more power!

  3. Al
    March 17, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    "In fact when I clicked on the Fox logo to start the browser, it shot open like a politician being caught in a brothel with his pants down."

    Man, how prescient are you?

  4. Jose
    March 6, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Leave Firefox alone. It's much better than Internet Explorer. Your messing with 1000000000 geeks here heheheheheheehehehehe ooooo hahaha *geeky laugh*

    • Mark O'Neill
      March 7, 2008 at 6:16 am

      Oh I totally agree. Internet Explorer is terrible and I refuse to use it. I am constantly campaigning to get people to switch to Firefox - so much so that Mozilla should put me on their payroll...! But saying that, Firefox does have speed issues and memory leak issues and Preloader does help address some of that.

  5. Todd
    March 6, 2008 at 8:54 am

    After I loaded the program and opened Firefox for the first time, "haunted house" type music starts to play automatically. Even after I ended the Firefox session, the music continued to play. Subsequently, I unloaded the program from my computer and now the music no longer plays. Anyone else encounter that problem?

    • Mark O'Neill
      March 6, 2008 at 1:10 pm

      Haunted house music??? Not on my computer - and I have my speakers on 24/7. Are you sure it didn't come from a webpage you were perhaps viewing at the time? Sometimes I open a webpage then open an application, hear a noise, think it's coming from the application I just opened, when in actual fact it came from the website I just opened. It's an easy mistake to make.

      Then again, it could be a practical joke by the developer and easily disabled. But as I said, it doesn't play on my computer so you'd have to wonder why it's selective about which computers to play on. Strange. Anyone hearing this?

    • Saidur
      June 22, 2008 at 1:28 pm

      I am having this exact issue! I dont get it. It played music thats not even on my computer and then played randomly my music.

  6. hoaai
    March 6, 2008 at 8:42 am

    At startup my Firefox launches automatically after ive installed the preloader. How can I stop it from doing so?

  7. 7leads
    March 6, 2008 at 4:04 am

    Firefox has great loading time for this application. Very good article. Keep up the good work !

  8. Rodney
    March 6, 2008 at 2:53 am

    Love the preloader.

    I have Firefox itself as the last item in my Startup Delayer, so that I can ensure it's coming up cleanly. Then just close it & bring up the preloader.

    If extension updates look like they are complicating things, it's easy to unload the preloader & repeat the startup process. It's a very small price to pay for the dramatic reduction in the time it takes to reload Firefox itself.

  9. Jonathan Bennett
    March 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Firefox takes less than 5 seconds to load on a fresh boot for me, and it's plenty fast once it's opened. I'm on a 3 year old laptop.

    Plenty fast for me!

  10. EdgarJ
    March 5, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Will this work for portable Firefox?

    • Mark O'Neill
      March 5, 2008 at 5:18 pm

      Probably not because Portable Firefox runs off a USB stick without being installed on a system and without leaving any traces behind in the PC registry. Preloader on the other hand needs to be installed on the PC and you need to tell Preloader the exact location of Firefox in the computer. A bit difficult if Firefox doesn't reside on the computer but is actually on a USB stick which occasionally pops in to visit. You could try it but I very much doubt if it would work.

  11. andy
    March 5, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    It compounds Firefox's memory leak problem. With the preloader, the amount of ram that Firefox was using when you closed it does not go down. It just keeps growing and growing every time you reopen Firefox. It's a Firefox problem, not a problem with this software, but it's a problem.

    • Mark O'Neill
      March 6, 2008 at 5:12 am

      In my view, Preloader doesn't change the memory leak problem for better or worse. So it doesn't "compound" the problem. All it does is put certain parts of Firefox into the memory for faster loading.

  12. Ant
    March 5, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I found this doesn't work alongside itunes - whether this is because I have foxytunes installed, i'm not sure. Anyhow, it means Firefox doesn't open unless I close iTunes down. Or Firefox freezes totally. Perhaps its age means its not compatible with more recent addons?

    • Mark O'Neill
      March 5, 2008 at 4:10 pm

      Eh? I have Firefox (along with Preloader) and iTunes open right now and everything is fine. So maybe the problem is Foxytunes (I don't have Foxytunes).

  13. Napalm
    March 5, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Ok, so am I either too stupid to start the download or is it hidden or what? I went to the download page and all I saw was the file info...please email me with any help! nathanxplosion@gmail.com

  14. Napalm
    March 5, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks for the heads-up, Ben!

  15. JAG
    March 5, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Wow, i was a little worried using a program that appears to be over 3 years old, but this really does seem to work just fine.... i am wicked impressed.

    thanks.

  16. Ben
    March 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    This is a rather annoying little tool sometimes. Say you want to kill Firefox from task manager, it won't die fully unless you kill the preloader.

    Also when Firefox installs updates etc. and wants to restart you better close preloader before. Or it doesn't want to co-operate.

    Then again it does work nicely.

    Just a heads up.

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