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> Hands On: A Look At Firefox's Memory Issues
NickTheGreek
post 5 Sep 2007, 02:14 AM
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Firefox continues to be the application that's the single largest memory and virtual memory hog on all my PCs. Despite that shortcoming, I haven't experienced any of the side effects detailed in my earlier articles starting when Firefox 1.5 was first released. Well, there's one I've continued to see: Firefox takes absolutely forever to launch when initiated from hyperlinks in third-party apps such as e-mail and instant messaging clients. That problem predates Firefox 1.5 though (as did the high memory usage).


But while Firefox 1.5 has been pretty clear sailing for me, not a day goes by when I don't get at least one e-mail from a frustrated Firefox user who has some mix of the problems I've described in the past, including exceptionally high use of physical and virtual memory, CPU usage that climbs to 100%, program hesitations and freezes, a launch failure that requires an operating system reboot or termination of the firefox.exe process in Task Manager, specific Web pages that don't load, and crashes.


I'm not getting as many messages as I once did, but they're still trickling in. One reader wrote:


"Not long ago you mentioned a memory hole problem in Firefox. I experience the problem on a daily basis and it's been driving me nuts. I can see RAM usage via Task Manager going up and up and up until even virtual memory gets swamped. As soon as Firefox 1.5 came out, the memory problems began. If I use IE6 instead of Firefox, I have no memory problems. I've searched the help forums MozillaZine.org without luck. Does Mozilla think it's fixed this problem?"


What he is describing is a memory leak, and it sounds more serious on his machine than on some others. I don't see an ever-escalating use of memory, but some other people have. Because a small number of people are struggling with this, I'm going to pass along a tip that has worked for some users, although I'm quite sure it won't work for everyone.


Start by checking how much memory Firefox is using. There are many ways to do this, but under Windows there's only one easy way that everyone has access to. Press Ctrl-Alt-Del once. In Windows XP, that opens the Task Manager. Click the Processes tab, and check the numbers on the firefox.exe line under the headings "Mem Usage" and "VM Size." Click the Mem Usage header twice to sort the rows by memory usage, highest to lowest. Is Firefox at the top? Is it a six-digit number? If so, Firefox is consuming a lot more memory than it should. Watch these numbers over time as you run Firefox to see whether they grow significantly.


Double-check your browser cache settings to make sure they're functional. You can also adjust the browser cache to match the amount of memory on your system. Follow these steps:


Firefox has a special settings screen called about:config. To access it, open a new tab and type "about:config" (without quotation marks) into the URL bar. Press Enter.


You'll see a long list of text entries. Each line is a different setting, like lines in an .INI file or System Registry entries. You're looking for this line: browser.cache.memory.enable.


There's a type-ahead feature, so just start typing. Once you get there, check to make sure its "Value" setting reads "true," then follow these steps:



Right-click any blank area in the about:config window and choose New > Integer from the pop-up menu.


The New Integer Value box will open. Copy and paste this setting name into the open dialog box: browser.cache.memory.capacity


In the Enter Integer Value box that opens, enter -1 to preserve Firefox's default operational mode.


To customize the setting to your computer's physical memory, consult this MozillaZine page. For RAM sizes between 512BM and 1GB, start with 15000. For RAM sizes between 128MB and 512M, try 5000. Note: If you have less than 128MB of RAM, that's probably the cause of your Firefox issues.

Heavy Firefox users should strongly consider upgrading their RAM to at least 1GB.


It's clear to me that there are pandemic memory problems in Firefox, and also that Mozilla has not responded adequately to them. But this is still my browser of choice. I can't wait for 2.0 -- even if it will lack the Places site-search functionality, which Mozilla recently decided not to implement in Firefox 2.0 (see "Firefox drops Places feature; security patch coming soon"). Frankly, I never bought into Places, whose concept was to let you run a search that will check your bookmarks and browser history — the idea being to help you find a site you know you've visited in the recent past. But if you know the site well enough to search for it by keyword, just Google it. No?


There are other features Firefox is more in need of. Heck, I'd just like a Bookmarks manager that doesn't make drag-and-drop moves of bookmarks, bookmark folders and separators nearly a spectator sport. There are many things that are a bit twitchy in Firefox. Improve and extend. Whole new modules whose advantage aren't slam-dunk obvious probably aren't the right approach for what is still a very young application with huge potential. And it's still fun to use.


Scot Finnie has been an editor for a variety of IT publications for more than 20 years, and this article originally appeared in his newsletter. It is reprinted by permission.

[source]computerworld.com[/source]


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NickTheGreek
post 5 Sep 2007, 02:21 AM
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[title]This May Help Your Firefox Memory Leak[/title]

Now, this is by no means a REAL fix for the Firefox memory leak, but it certainly does appear to help it quite a bit. This little fix will move Firefox to your hard drive when you minimize it, and as a result it will take up less than 10MB of memory while minimized. So far, from my experiences with using this today, when you maximize Firefox it will obviously increase the memory usage. However, it does not seem to go back up to the insane amount that it was at before minimizing it. For example, Firefox was at 180MB of memory usage and then I minimized it and after a few seconds I maximized it. After maximizing it and continuing on my routine business it appeared to only have gone up to 60MB. This seems to be a good solution for me right now since I frequently maximize and minimize Firefox anyways.

Now I know many people will say that Firefox will take longer to maximize since it will be located on the hard drive, but I haven’t noticed ANY delays. It is able to redraw itself just as quickly as if it was located in the ram (in my experience). Okay, now here are the few simple steps:

1. Open Firefox and go to the Address Bar. Type in about:config and then press Enter.
2. Right Click in the page and select New -> Boolean.
3. In the box that pops up enter config.trim_on_minimize. Press Enter.
4. Now select True and then press Enter.
5. Restart Firefox.

See how quick and painless that was? At any rate you can always go back and delete the same setting that you just created if you start to experience any issues. I have also set the browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers value to 0 because that will prevent Firefox from caching pages for the back button. This is also supposed to free up some memory that gets stolen.

Update:
Martin has informed me that this fix also works for Thunderbird. I am not a Thunderbird user so I didn’t realize this. After thinking about it I realized it “should” also work for Netscape, Mozilla, and SeaMonkey. Also, this fix is only for Windows machines (sorry Mac users).

[source]cybernetnews.com[/source]


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NickTheGreek
post 5 Sep 2007, 02:24 AM
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this one is equally useful:

Mozilla Zine


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