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Firefox Tweak Guide

[Page 13] Neat Stuff & Conclusion



This section brings the guide to a conclusion, but not before providing a few more tips which may be of some help to you.


Speed Up Firefox Load Time


Firefox can be slower to load up the first time in each computing session compared with Internet Explorer. This is because Internet Explorer's core files are already loaded up with Windows at bootup. You can view how long it is taking to open Firefox each time by using the Firefox Health Report feature, accessible by opening the Firefox main menu, clicking the '?' button at the bottom, then selecting 'Firefox Health Report'. In the new tab that opens, you will see a graph of Startup Time by Day on the right hand side.


The latest versions of Firefox have greatly improved startup time, however if you find Firefox's startup time annoying, you can try Firefox Preloader, a program which attempts to preload portions of Firefox into memory at Windows startup so that Firefox is quicker to launch. The tradeoff is that Windows may take slightly longer to boot.


There are several other simple things you can do to improve Firefox's startup time:


  • Go to the Firefox main menu, select Options, and under the Advanced tab, select the General section and untick the 'Always check to see if Firefox is the default browser on startup' box.
  • Go to the Firefox main menu, select Options, and under the Advanced tab, select the Network section, click the Settings button, and select 'No Proxy' if you aren't behind a proxy.
  • If opening multiple tabs at startup, go to the main Firefox Options, and under the Tabs section tick the 'Don't load tabs until selected' box.
  • A more significant measure is to uninstall or disable any unnecessary or less-used add-ons in Firefox. This step not only noticeably improves startup time, it also greatly enhances Firefox's general responsiveness, stability and resource usage. See the Add-ons section of this guide for more details.

  • If you're still unhappy with Firefox's overall speed, try one of the Firefox variants listed under Custom Firefox Builds further below.



    Portable Firefox


    If you want to use Firefox on other PCs, but don't want the hassle of installing it wherever you go, you don't have permission to install it on a PC, or you just don't want to leave any trace of your personal data on a system, then you can use Firefox Portable Edition. This application is the same as the full version of Firefox, however it has been reconfigured so that it works entirely from a portable device such as a USB flash drive, portable hard drive, iPod/MP3 player, etc. The way it does this is by disabling disk caching and relying entirely on RAM caching and storing all your personal information only on your portable device - it does not put any traces of your information on the drive(s) of the computer on which you use the portable application.



    Custom Firefox Builds


    As Firefox is a free and open-source browser, this allows anyone to take the Firefox source code and modify it, then compile it into a new browser based on the Firefox platform. The advantage of this is that it makes Firefox completely customizable, since changes can be made to the original code. The disadvantages include stability, functionality and security issues with these variants of Firefox.


    I use and recommend the original version of Firefox, as detailed in this guide. But if you're after a variant that places greater emphasis on performance, or on keeping the older look of Firefox (i.e. pre-29.0), then you can try these popular - and generally safe to use - alternatives:


    Waterfox - a 64-bit browser that is prioritised for speed.


    Palemoon - provides more customization options, as well as improving performance.


    Cyberfox - a 64-bit browser that improves performance.


    Tor Browser - focuses on providing complete anonymity while surfing the web.


    Light - comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and is slimmed down to reduce resource usage.


    Note that as of Firefox 42.0 onwards, Mozilla provides a native 64-bit version of Firefox - see page 3 for details.


    There are plenty of other Firefox variants around, but exercise caution by researching them before installation, as some can be malicious, breach your privacy, or have a range of other issues.



    I Need Help With Firefox!


    Unfortunately I can't provide any tech support, so please don't email me asking me for help or advice regarding Firefox or your PC. In general all the information you need is right here in this guide, as long as you are patient and read it carefully, and supplement it with some thought and research. If you still need help with a particular issue, or wish to report a bug, you should check out the Official Firefox Support Site.


    Of assistance when undertaking troubleshooting, or reporting a problem to Mozilla, open the Firefox main menu, click the '?' (Help) button at the bottom, and then select the 'Troubleshooting Information' item. This screen presents a quick summary of the major components of Firefox which you have altered, including your installed add-ons and modified preferences. If you wish to allow others to give you assistance, click the 'Copy text to clipboard' button and then paste the information into an email or forum post.



    Conclusion


    That brings this Firefox Tweak Guide to a close. I hope you've found the tips and tweaks herein useful and informative. It's already been significantly revised for every major version of Firefox since 1.5, most recently having undergone a thorough overhaul as of Firefox 29.0. To help me keep the guide as accurate as possible, please Email Me if you believe there are any errors or serious omissions.


    As a final note, since the release of this guide in early 2005 I've had a fair few people email me telling me about all sorts of Firefox tweaking utilities. My opinion of these types of utilities is that no software, however well designed, can tweak an application for you - it simply isn't possible. Most tweaks and tips require that you make an educated choice as to what suits your particular tastes, your hardware and the uses to which you will be putting Firefox. There is no "right" setting for every machine. While reading this guide may be tedious, I strongly suggest you actually take the time to read through it in detail because not only will you find out how to optimize Firefox, the information will also help you to take full advantage of all of Firefox's features.



    Until next time, take care!