Despite many, many articles around the web declaring Google Chrome to be the greatest RAM hog of all time, they forget about Mozilla Firefox. In fact, the browser of open-source greatness is also a bit of a RAM hog. Find out how to troubleshoot Firefox’s RAM usage with this guide.
Step 1: Troubleshoot The Problem
The first step to finding is asking “Why?” So let’s do that.
Firefox, though rather hungry, should not slow your computer down. First, you should incriminate your addons. Assume that at least one of them is slowing your computer down. To determine whether it is an addon, start Firefox in Safe Mode using the instructions below:
Open Firefox and click the dropdown “hamburger menu” on the Awesome Bar, click the question mark button, and click “Restart with Addons disabled” button
Firefox will restart. When it opens, a popup will appear, asking you if you would like to refresh Firefox or start in Safe Mode. To start in Safe Mode, just click the button. However, if you’re sure that your Firefox is a lost cause and you want to start over again, click Refresh. This will perform a factory reset on your browser
Once you start in Safe Mode, the experience should be a lot faster and smoother. If not, then it means that the system is to blame, and you shouldn’t continue blaming Firefox. If it is the system, it probably means that some other aspect of your computer and slowing Firefox down. I recommend looking at your Task Manager or Activity monitor, and stop anything you don’t recognise. It could also be your RAM. To find if it is, check you have at least 4GB. Any less and you should add more. On Linux, you should switch to a lighter desktop environment, like Xfce, LXDE or MATE
If it is an addon, you need to find which addon exactly, and then get rid of it. First, try identify which extension, before removing it. In my experience, Chrome Store Foxified, an addon that utilises Mozilla’s WebExtensions API to install Chrome extensions in Firefox, is an enormous RAM hog. Remove it immediately if you have it.
For other addons, try to see the purpose of the addon. Small addons like New Tab Override should not be slowing you down, but big ones like your password manager could very well be. The ones you should disable should always be the ones that perform the most complex functions. To disable them, go to about:addons to enter the Addons Manager and click Disable beside the suspected addon.
After you’ve removed the probable culprit, close Firefox and open it again. If you’re still in Safe Mode, read the Mozilla Knowledge Base article Firefox is stuck in Safe Mode. If you aren’t in Safe Mode and the browser speed is markedly increased, then good job! You’ve disabled the addon. Go to the Addon Manager and remove it. If you have a Mozilla Sync Account, go to the addon’s Firefox Addon page and tell people about its RAM usage.
If you don’t see an increase in speed, go back to the Addon Manager and disable the addons one by one, most complex ones first. Every time you disable an addon, test the browser’s speed. If there’s no increase, enable the addon again and disable the next. If an addon requires you restart, do so. If there is an increase in speed, congrats! Remove the extension and carry on with life.
If none of these suggestions helped, check out Mozilla’s Knowledge Base article on the subject.
Did any of these suggestions help? Are you using Firefox again as a result? Please let us know in the comments!