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Why I am Dumping Firefox

I really had high hopes for the latest version of Firefox, so much so that I sat and dealt with the same problems from the previous version waiting for an update to fix it.  Firefox has come a long way since it debuted, but sometimes that road ahead can actually lead you backwards.  With the slurry of new features present in Firefox 4, and even 3 for that matter, the project has failed to address one of the most problematic issues, memory usage.

It has become more apparent that I am not the only one experiencing a lagging system when running Firefox; I typically run with anywhere from 1 to 20 tabs open at any given time and this really creates an issue with Firefox.  It seems that many of the “features” packed into Firefox over the last few iterations have really become a drain on the browser.

Granted, the quality and quantity of the various addons for Firefox makes it a very powerful contender for the champion browser, I just can’t seem to get past half of my system memory being used by my browser (typically I have multiple Windows open and multiple tabs in each when researching – Firefox memory usage in the GB’s).  Believe me, if it came down to not having the web developer toolbar or a responsive system, um… I choose to ditch the toolbar and run a different browser.

Note: Thanks Chris for releasing a chrome extension of the greatest addon for Firefox: Web Developer Toolbar

This is where companies start going wrong, and where my issues with Firefox are starting.  My personal opinion is that a piece of software that tries to do everything, is neglecting what it is supposed to be doing exceptionally.  The Firefox Dev team should start focusing on the things that caused many of us to switch to it in the first place, the browser.  Start focusing on being the best browser again and less on all the crap you can pack into a download and you may win me over again.

So, in my final farewell… Goodbye Firefox and hello Chromium.

UPDATE: Because of the overwhelming response on this article, I decided to show you how I came to this conclusion.

  • Gigabyte 880GA-UD3H
  • AMD Phenom II X4 965
  • 2x4GB Patriot Sector 5 PC3-12800
  • Seagate 500GB ST3500630AS
  • BitFenix Colossus (click to read our review)
  • BFG LS-450
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

The test methodology: I opened each of the browsers (IE9, Firefox 4, Chrome) and loaded 6 tabs in the first window and 3 tabs in the second.  I used the same sites for each test in each browser.  I then waiting for all disk activity to cease then recored the memory usage of the browser.  I then rebooted and started the same process with the next browser until I could calculate the results.  I ran the each test 10 times and discarded the highest and lowest scores then averaged them for the results.

 

Update 2: Firefox is naked (no addons) Website List:

Browser Window #1:

  1. http://www.google.com/search?q=WHS&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
  2. http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/default.mspx
  3. http://www.whs.mil/
  4. http://www.wegotserved.com/
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Home_Server
  6. http://whs.d214.org/

Browser Window #2:

  1. http://computingondemand.com/
  2. Admin page for Computing on demand…
  3. http://forums.computingondemand.com/


About Joe DiFiglia

I have always had a passion for everything computing. In early 2000, I decided to take my passion to the web. Thus, C.O.D. was born. Through the years we have made many great friends at C.O.D. and hope to continue our journey for years to come.

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47 comments

  1. My gf typically has 40 or more tabs open in Firefox. On her 4gig 3.2ghz quad core, it runs slower than machines that came preloaded with Windows '95. I have 8 gigs, run Opera, and currently have approximately 100 tabs open. 2.4gigs taken up, but the computer moves just as fast with or without it open.

  2. http://www.maxthon.com The browser that's a decade ahead of IE and generally 4-to-7 years ahead of Firefox… and is currently taking 65K RAM when minimized. Every single time a FF lover tells me of the "new features" I tell them how many years I've been using that feature with maxthon. For example, the new FF has online accounts for syncing between multiple computeurs. I've had my Maxthon acct for storing that info since 2007. I've been using tabs for over 10 years now.

  3. I opened 20 Firefox 4 instances (not tabs) with CNN.COM
    In Task Manager one single Firefox task with 434K.
    My Firefox has 2 plugins also.
    Closed Firefox.
    Opened 20 IE9 (no plug-ins) instances with CNN.com
    Task manager has 9 entrees varied from 24K to 101K totaling 670K
    So how does Firefox use more memory?

  4. I use FF4 for all my work,
    and SRWare Iron (Chromium Project with no info sent to google)

    FF4 ROCKS

  5. Did you read the article? Where did I tell people to switch to IE? Also, those advertisements are from Google, so you must have been search for IE to have it show you that advertisement.

  6. goodbye…… and good luck with Chromium…..
    FF (3.x and now 4.0) never slowdown my Intel PC,
    i5/750 with only 4GB, Win7 HomePrem 32bit.
    I can't understand, why this article even mention on majorgeeks.

  7. My only issue with this article is the author's assumption that the problems he's having with Firefox are related to memory usage. The fact that Firefox is using half his memory might be interesting but it doesn't necessarily mean it's the cause of the problems he's seeing.
    If he's serious about troubleshooting these problems and arriving at the actual cause, he shouldn't just jump on the first thing he doesn't like, or doesn't understand and assume he's found the cause.

    Certainly it's perfectly reasonable to dump Firefox because you either don't have the time, the skills or the inclination to figure out what' going on but it's not reasonable to write an article that implies you know what's going on when you obviously don't.

  8. I use one Internet browser on ALL my operating systems: Android, Symbian, Linux & Windows (CE & 7-32bit). No need for add-ons, since it has inbuilt macros, inbuilt MHT file saving (instantly into ONE tightly compressed file, instead of Ms's delaying stuff), spell checker, ad-blocker, auto-return after log-off or crash, unlimited & off-line stored speed-dials, auto-create favorites (etc. as you select) regardless of computers or operating systems I happen to be using.

    On the independent & informed comparisons of multiple browsers, OPERA browser (ver. 11.10) is fast, conforms very tightly to international browser standards (unlike every other browser), plus all the user benefits in the first para – all without add-ons.

    Noticed many comments are 64 bit Windows machines (or Linux PAE, with >4GB memory). Seems many users avoid add-on multi-tasking their computers: no firewall, no virus protection, no spell-correction, clipboard extenders, etc. If they run bare computers, they are not using real computers.

    Medically Retired IT Consultant (ABI), Australian Capital Territory

  9. Geeze. I just did a similar test with my usual load of web pages. Firefox 4 = 550MB, Chrome = 160MB. Ouch.

    I really didn't notice it because I have 8GB in the machine. But why is it taking over double the RAM to do the same thing?

    Seriously considering switching because I know that the extensions I use are available in Chrome.

  10. Wow… So many people spouting the same bs in these comments.

    Stated above, quite clearly, is the benchmark that was done, with *ONLY* 9 tabs and 2 windows. Which uses ~250mb. That is a test performed on a clean boot, and not typical usage. That test was set up to be quite forgiving to the browser actually. A test I would love to see (but am too lazy to perform, heh), would be the same test but let the browser sit for 8-12 hours after loading the tabs.

    On to my actual opinion:

    I dropped FireFox ~6 months ago. It was not about memory usage, it was completely and totally about memory leaks and performance issues that ensued due to the memory leaks. My browser is running 24/7. FireFox could not handle being open that long without becoming nearly non-responsive after a few days.

    I don't really care if people want to argue with my *PERSONAL EXPERIENCE* because your arguements, explainations, etc are not capable of changing it.

  11. Latest Chrome dev build w/ 5 tabs = 604MB and 19 processes in Task Manager.

    Latest Firefox Nightly w/ 18 tabs = 647MB and 1 process in Task Manager.

  12. Oh god, you probably shouldn't write about computers.

  13. I wanted to see just how much less memory Chrome uses, so I did a bit of an informal test. At present, I have 84 tabs open in Firefox, which has in itself been open for many hours now and has an additional 10 closed tabs I can reopen. I opened the first 32 of them in Chrome by simply copying the URI and pasting it in Chrome (which was freshly-opened). Then I headed to ‘about:memory’ to check the memory usage.

    Chrome (32 tabs): 353 MB
    Firefox (84 tabs): 961 MB

    In other words, Chrome used ~36% as much memory for ~38% as many tabs. That’s with the following advantages: 1. No history; 2. No closed tabs to reopen; 3. No extensions, user scripts or user styles; and 4. A completely fresh start.

    On top of all that, it looked like a mess (see the attachment) and felt even more sluggish than Firefox 4, which I thought was fairly sluggish at times.

    EDIT:
    This isn’t supposed to come across as anti-Chrome. I just don’t really see a reason to switch at this point, since it doesn’t seem to me that Chrome has the advantages people say it does.

  14. Use Opera excellent speed dial feature second to none. Stable browsing with regularly 50+ Tabs.

  15. Selecting a browser because it uses 80mb less than another is stupid – features/compatability are what matter. Using chrome saves you 80mb yet you have about 100mb tied up in crap.

    I can only assume this post has more to do with generating traffic than firefox or you really don't know what you are talking about.

  16. 256mb on 8gb isnt much, but still doesnt change the fact that FF consumes more memory, but still its using more memory than the other browsers though. even if it doesnt lag your system. you are an idiot if it doesnt make you think why

    • meanwhile, it doesn't address at all that none of those websites will function the same in every browser.

      Find sites that will function the same in every browser, and then we're talking. In the meantime, we have a solution in search of an explanation.

  17. Hmm. Not quite sure HOW many you have open. Tried this myself. Opened 8 windows.
    6 of them with an average of 8 tabs. 2 of them with 25+. All of the tabs lead to different sites. Several are video sites. Several are picture/thumbnail dumps.

    My task manager shows Firefox at 820K. It spikes a little opening a new tab and browsing, but comes back down.

    System: C2Q 2.5Ghz, 8GB of RAM.

    Honestly, I'd say that your problem is your machine or a severely damaged Firefox install.

  18. 256mb out of 8gb? boo hoo who cares. sometimes more memory means it runs faster. stupid reason to dump a browser. i use other programs that use far more memory at the same time as firefox with 20 tabs open. no problems at all. you're an idiot.

  19. I can tell you that Firefox pukes when it comes to high memory situations .

    its great for simple web sites and regular browser viewing or simulated tests.

    but as soon as you throw it a web page that renders several hundred thumb nails of images or thousands of various links its memory foot print becomes huge and it either dose 2 things performs sluggishly or crashes.

    even the 64bit versions have trouble so its not just a case how much memory you have available, its how fire fox uses and allocates it memory. and its been doing a very poor job lately managing it.

  20. well, i still use firefox 3.6.x and i have similar issues, except i also have 8gb of ram and it's not the memory usage, but memory leakage. if i close all tabs and go to a blank tab, it will still be sitting at 1gb of memory usage. tell me how that makes sense.

    because of this, i have to restart the browser every 30 mins if i want to have some sort of decent response time. otherwise, clicking a link will take longer and while it doesn't slow the system, browsing is definitely affected.

  21. I wish firefox would use less ram but then I remember I have 8gb's and I don't really care.

  22. You all need to remember that this is an article stating why "I" am dumping Firefox; if you don't agree, that is your opinion and you are rightfully entitled to it. However, I don't like the way things are going with Firefox and the bloat that comes along with it. I also revised my article based on some of the comments I have received on it to try to address the readers concerns and show some supporting data.

  23. I have to agree with the author that Firefox is starting to get a bit bloated with extra junk that isn't really required.

    My system specs are similar and Firefox with 20-35 tabs open has no issues and no sluggishness.

    In my opinion the issue lies elsewhere in the system. I would recommend the author reformat his system and retest with a naked windows install as well as a naked Firefox install.

    • Understandable, the issue is still that Firefox should go back to developing a browser that does browsing well. We don't need the extra crap. I don't think there is a perfect browser out there right now. This is my opinion and at this point, Chrome is the best option for me. Not saying the best browser…

      • Joe,why not get the Firefox extension Memory Fox 7.4 and also the program CleanMem to reduce memory leakage-then,no problem and you stay on the best browser i.e.Firefox

        • I may have to check them out… Firefox will always be on my system (Cross browser compatibility testing). For daily use though, I am switching. However, why should we have to rely on extensions to do what Firefox should be doing itself?

  24. I find myself using Firefox less and less. I have the latest and greatest of all three (IE, Firefox and Chrome) and I use Chrome almost exclusively. I don't have to restart it every time I add a new feature (stupid Firefox) and IE9 is just a Chrome rip-off on the surface. With 12GB of ram I really don't care too much about memory usage. Without hard data to back it up, I just like the look and feel and performance of Chrome. Firefox has more add-ons because it's been around longer, but Chrome has all of the ones I'm interested in.

  25. You ditch firefox for one reason, memory usage and switch to chrome which uses even more memory. I smell a troll.

    Also, note chrome's extensions api is terrible so you won't be able to block ads or have proper noscript.

    http://adblockplus.org/en/known-issues-chrome http://optimalcycling.com/other-projects/notscrip

  26. What sites? What extensions? Are said sites developed for one browser over another? And yes that is an issue with some sites still, hence why IE9 will do so well in alot of things.

    Your testing methodology lacks a bit. Not saying its wrong, but not all the info is there. And on FF's memory usage, currently I have 15 tabs open inc soundcloud, youtube, various forums in live view and some 'news'sites (I dont class any of the Aussie rags as real news sites) and I am only using 250ish MB of ram. Pretty good for a browser that hogs memory.

  27. You switch to Chrome just because of memory use? Chrome eats up memory like no tomorrow also… Try opening 20 tabs, do some intensive browsing (including flash too), and count the ram usage of all the chrome tabs.

    • Actually, I did. Believe it or not, I benchmarked this. I opened the same tabs and windows in IE9, Chrome, and Firefox 4. IE9 actually had the best memory utilization out of all of them, but I just can't bring myself to use it… so I chose Chrome.

  28. With the list of programs you are running there, I am surprised that you can even make an article. You'd run programs a lot better if you learn to use the Task Manager and close unwanted/unneeded processes. 78 processes? What are you running, Windows Vista? Or do you let all the software you install use their useless autorun services? Hint: thats what TASK MANAGER is for.. 😉

    Programs today are not designed with memory limitations as it was before (noteworthy exception to Windows 7 when compared to Vista). Memory is so cheap these days. and if you open 20 tabs, you should expect ~500MB of memory usage easily, perhaps more.

    I'm sorry, I can't take this joke of an article seriously, especially when you say Goodbye Firefox and hello Chromium. CHROMIUM… a beta unfinished product. Heard about stability and security?

    • The slew of WINDOWS 7 Processes that are running is because they are Windows 7 processes. After all, what is the point of having a quad core processor if your thought is to run 20 processes. Perhaps you are sitting in front of an AMD Athlon 900 and running Windows ME; for the rest of us, the PC is made for multitasking. Besides that, what the hell does that have to do with a browser consuming that much system ram? NOTHING! If you have used Chrome, duh… you are using Chromium. Research, then bash.

  29. Firefox will always be near to my heart, but after changing to Chrome about a year ago I have been one extremely happy clam.

  30. If Firefox is using half your ram, maybe it is time to get a new computer with some more ram. It would benefit you down the line, as browsers are trying to become operating systems.

    • So I'm confused, does your system have 512 MBs of RAM as your article states, or is Firefox using 2-4 GBs of RAM as your comment states?

      Somewhere you are stretching the truth by over 400%, and it makes this article a completely useless opinion piece.

      • I am going to update the article with my benchmarks… stay tuned.

        • I ran the same test and I see only a 10-15MB difference between the 2 browsers. I wouldn't call 250MB a lot of system memory on a 8GB machine. I have 8GB with the pagefile turned off and firefox set to put all files into memory and never have a problem. Also by your logic you should be switching to IE9 and not Chromium.

        • I've been using firefox since 0.9, and really loving it since 2. But I've found in the last year or so that Chrome has become the better browser. I use firefox/chrome/ie fairly regularly (I do some web development)

          Even with all the ie9 improvements, I still prefer chrome or ff.

          All that said I don't think memory usage is a good reason to switch though. SQL Server 2008 R2 uses 15 GB on my server, and that's because it caches data. It's not that it's poor software, it's just seeing that there's lots of available memory and putting it to use. If ff is just seeing you have lots of ram and caching data in memory, I think that's the correct thing to do. If it's just taking twice as much ram and doing the exact same thing, then I'd agree it's inefficient. Without knowing firefox's internal workings I don't know that it's a fair comparison.

    • How are you calculating 25-50% of your RAM?

      230MB out of 8GB is only about 2.8%

    • Joe, brush up on your math.

      ~300MB != 25-50% of 8GB, it's less than 4%.

      Let's see, author uses 8GB computer, but builds a computer with only 512MB of RAM so you can spread headlines over the net about how Firefox uses OVER HALF your system memory… classy. 😛

      Why don't you refuse to run dropbox… what the heck is a cloud storage agent doing with 50MB?

      Anyways, Firefox was never meant to be small, why the hell would they use xul for the user interface? It's definitely slower and more resource hoggy to have an interpreted UI language than a static UI that's compiled in… but it *does* make sense if its meant to be portable over different OSes and be relatively user configurable.

      As others have already stated, most desktop PC's come with at least 3GB these days, so 300MB for the browser really is a non issue. It's not one on my 1GB netbook either because I don't expect to have a gazillion programs running at once on such an anemic (for 2010) system.

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