If you suffer from a dead slow FireFox browser …

The FireFox prefs-9999.js pitfall… and you’ve tried all the free-memory-on-minimize tricks out there, you could do a couple of things.

You could try to update to the newest version. If you’re using old extensions like I do, FireFox has already sent a bazillion of security alerts trying to talk you into the update process. Well, you’d get rid of the update alerts, but that doesn’t solve all your problems, because your beloved extensions were deactivated automatically.

A reinstall is brutal, but helps. Unfortunately you’ll lose a lot of stuff.

Waiting until your history.dat file exceeds 12 gigs and session saver forced the creation of prefs-9999.js in your profile is another way to handle the crisis. The prefs-9999.js is the ultimate prefs file, which stores all your settings by the way. Once FireFox creates it, it stops working all of a sudden and cannot be restarted.

I figured out that such a prefs-n.js file is created up to a few times daily, and with every new file FireFox slows down a bit. It is absolutely genial that in times of 64 bit integers the file counter has such a low hard limit. I mean I wouldn’t surf any more in a few weeks if my browser would become much slower.

So I appreciated the heart attack forcing me to look into the issue, deleted all prefs-*.js files but kept prefs.js itself, and now I’ve my fast FireFox1.5 back. I lost a few open tabs and such, because I was too lazy to rename prefs-9999.js to prefs-1.js. Memory allocation right after starting the browser went down to laughable 300 megs and still counting, so I guess there’s some work left when I want to continue surfing with hundreds of tabs in several project specific windows. Sigh.

I’m an old fart and tend to forget such things, hence I post it and next time my browser slows down I just ask you guys on Twitter what to do with it. Thanks in advance for your help.



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4 Comments to "If you suffer from a dead slow FireFox browser ..."

  1. Marios Alexandrou on 5 November, 2007  #link

    I don’t seem to have these problems. I’m up prefs-7.js and my history.dat file is 1 KB. I use Firefox Portable and have been for several months. I don’t know if it’s the portable that is making my version behave differently or if it’s because I’ve moved to Firefox 2.0. Out of curiosity, why haven’t you upgrade?

  2. JohnMu on 6 November, 2007  #link

    My Firefox has so far only required regular kills through the task-manager and no reinstalls. Maybe I’m just lucky :-).

    What I would love to do would be to open completely different instances of Firefox (as separate tasks and all of that). Anyone know a trick for that? At the moment I always use IE, Opera and FF in parallel to get close to that, but it’s a pain to manage. For a brief time I even used VMWare to run Linux-versions in a window, but that’s just slightly overkill, heh.

  3. Sebastian on 6 November, 2007  #link

    Marios, I didn’t update because a few of my extensions don’t work with FF 2.x. By the way, my problem is not very common, it’s somewhat caused by my usage of FF. SessionSaver forced FF to produce so many prefs-n.js files. However, it’s certainly speeding up browsing when you manually hold down the amount of these files. Just rename the recent ones starting at prefs-1.js and delete the outdated versions before you start FF. Somehow my FF managed to create 389 new prefs files in the last three days …

  4. Sebastian on 6 November, 2007  #link

    John, you could open a few windows with task or project specific tabs. For example I’ve a window with all stats and stuff like that, one for each project, one for SM (Twitter, Pownce, Facebook, Sphinn, GoogleReader …), and so on. Matt posted a neat extension (Copy All URLs 0.7.1) which stores all tabs of a window, so it’s easy to restore closed windows you don’t need daily.

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