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Friday, April 3, 2009

Making firefox use a little lesser memory

A lot people tell me that firefox uses a lot of memory and it grows like anything when used for a long duration. From the discussions developers and some blog posts/forums it appears the prior to FF3 it was memory leaks which formed a major part of this. Apart from that one of the important features "bfcache - Back/Forward Cache" which, arguably, makes back and forward navigation very fast, uses a lot of memory. In on the pages I read apparently it can be up to 4MB per page. This cache essentially keeps the parsed HTML of the mark-up in the memory along with the Javascript state. Sometimes, or more like most of the times, this can very taxing. You might be the kind of person who does not really uses the Back-Forward navigation and in case you do it you are OK with a slight delay (which may not percievable with a good conenction). If indeed you are that kind then disabling this "bfcache" will probably make your firefox eat lesser memory.

The setting/preference that controls this behavior is : browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers

By default it is -1, which is no limit. Setting this to 0 (zero) will disable this cache completely. Essentially you are telling Firefox to not to store the state of any document in the memory. If you want to have this feature with a saner limit you can set it to an integer representing the number of pages you want to be saved in memory.

Like any other pref not exposed through the Options dialog this has to be edited by visiting the page about:config. Open this in a tab and key in (or copy and paste) the preference string. Double click it to edit.

May be you can now lose lesser hair as your other applications will run smoothly. :P

Hari Om.

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