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How to fix Problems with Firefox using too much Memory

Updated on January 8, 2014
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Firefox Memory Leak
Firefox Memory Leak

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How to keep firefox from using up too much memory


Mozilla Firefox is one of the most popular internet browsers. It is very convenient and easy to use. However, it is bugged with a memory leak. This memory leak happens when you have been surfing for quite a while even if you are not viewing a lot of content. The memory usage – the amount of RAM it uses. Some users report that it reaches a whopping 1 GB! That’s almost like a high CG game running on your PC.

Here are some few fixes for this problem:

Plug-ins. Check your plug-ins. You may have installed a lot. Plug-ins require memory so uninstall unnecessary plug-ins and get updates for the old ones.

Website Content. When you view sites like You Tube and gaming sites, which tend to use a lot of graphics in their websites, you are more likely to have a memory leak problem. I’m not saying that you should avoid these sites but there is something you can do when you view them and your computer starts hanging because Firefox is using a lot of memory. You can close some tabs you don’t need then restart Firefox – close it then open it up again. Don’t worry about losing where you were. You can get back by looking at the History.

Firefox Settings. There are some settings in Firefox that you can change to keep it from using up too much memory. It’s not a sure fix but it will help. Type about:config in the address bar. Right click on the window then select new then integer. Name it browser.cache.memory.capacity then enter a value. This is the amount of memory in kilobytes Firefox uses for its cache. Choose a value you are comfortable with. I used 150000. Next, look for the setting config.trim_on_minimize by typing it in the filter. If it is not there create one by right clicking on the screen then new then Boolean. When set to true, this setting makes Firefox, when minimized, send data from the RAM to the Hard Drive.

Too many tabs. Opening way too many tabs will cause Firefox to use up a lot of RAM. And that will slow down your computer. Open up only a few tabs if your PC or laptop is slow. If you've got loads of RAM, you can do this without your machine slowing down.

Remember, there is no sure fix for the Firefox memory leak problem. As computers evolve so does the data transmitted through the internet – they get larger. Compare it to the time when people use Windows 98 or even before Windows existed. File sizes were small and the data transmitted through the internet was also small. If you own an older computer system, consider upgrading and the Firefox Memory may not be an issue for you.

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    • profile image

      Asok Asus 3 years ago

      I’ve just been FED UP with FF because of all of the memory leaks, etc. I've been running v16 forever because whenever I’ve tried to upgrade to newer versions, they’d all pretty much just crash after 30 minutes of heavy use, and not a single version of FF that I’ve ever used has ever fixed the memory leak problems. Not a single one.

      I actually installed a tiny batch file on quicklaunch so I could quickly kill FF at the point it’s consumed all of my RAM so I could then start over with “Restore Session” to automatically reload all of my previous tabs. After trying every “solution” to the leak problem, that’s the only one that ever did me any good. Apparently the arrogant tards at mozilla would rather tweak the UI to death rather than make a browser that actually works. They’re worse than even Microsoft because Microsoft has to listen to their customers sooner or later or go broke, whereas nonprofits can just drift along forever.

      At any rate, I just finished installing PM, including importing everything from FF with their little importer program, and everything went flawlessly, including all settings and the plethora of add-ons I use. The only difficulty was getting roboform attached, which I can’t live without. I did finally dumb around and got the roboform taskbar program to attach roboform to PM, which then worked flawlessly. It is, however, necessary for the roboform taskbar program to run all the time for roboform to continue to work on PM, but this is a very small price to pay to ditch FF forever.

      I've used PM for a week now, opening/closing/keeping hundreds of tabs a day, and I’ve been stunned at how much faster PM is than FF, as well as the VERY small memory footprint occupied by PM vs FF. Even after a week's HEAVY usage, PM has not grown beyond 1 GB, and even better, when I close tabs, ALL of the RAM is given back.

      Basically, PM is what FF ought to be. Even better, the genius behind Pale Moon, Mark Straver, has committed to keeping the PM UI fundamentally unmolested. I’ll be installing PM instead of FF on all of my client’s computers in the future as well!

      (BTW, ALL of the "recommended fixes" for the firefox memory leak problems are a sick joke. Not one of them works. And plugins DO NOT cause the memory leaks! Firefox does! How do I know? Because I switched to Pale Moon, importing everything EXACTLY like it was in Firefox and guess what? No memory leaks in Pale Moon! Oh, and I use Adblock Plus, Flash, Java, DoNotTrackMe, BetterPrivacy CookieCuller, DownloadHelper, Element Hiding Helper, IE View, ViewAbout, Visited, and roboform. So NONE of those is causing the firefox memory leak problems!)

    • leakeem profile image
      Author

      leakeem 3 years ago from Earth

      I understand. I do some programming myself and optimization is the hardest part (or second hardest part) of creating a program. Now that I have gave it more thought, maybe they just got lazy. Maybe because it's a free browser? Anyway, I still stick with firefox. My gear can handle its abusive RAM consumption. But with my old P4 computer, it's a big problem.

      I suppose that's the tradeoff: Fast browser - Huge RAM consumption. Look at IE...

    • profile image

      Ultimation 3 years ago

      leakeem, I must differ with your opinion. Developers have either become lazy, dispensable, or otherwise are being restricted by people who don't understand computers. I wound up here after searching for memory issues with Firefox because I had only one tab open, and Firefox alone was using over 800MB of my RAM. On top of that, Flash was using an additional 200, for a total of more than 1GB of RAM just to display one website. Yes, it was YouTube, but there is absolutely no reason for this. It's bad programming, and until we call it out then developers will just keep getting lazier/worse because computers come with more RAM. Having more RAM capability should allow users to do more, not put up with more.

      But thank you for the article, it has good advice. Unfortunately for me, I don't have addons or themes or anything excessive. I think I'm just going to have to abandon Firefox for a better browser. I used to love Firefox but it's been getting worse over the last couple of years.

    • leakeem profile image
      Author

      leakeem 3 years ago from Earth

      Let us not judge our dear developers. As anyone who had programming experience knows, there is and will always be problems with the program (runtime errors, optimization, etc.) which are sometimes way too hard to solve. Sometimes even if you think you "got it" it still wouldn't work.

      Well, at least firefox is fast.

    • profile image

      angry user 3 years ago

      Unbelievable... When you open a lot of tabs, it is understandable to use some more RAM. But then when you close those tabs, just give it back ??? What is so difficult? what is so impossible to debug? C/C++/Java/C# all support freeing memory! What prevents dear developers from solving this issue? RAM mafia? Facebook nation should need more and more RAM?

    • leakeem profile image
      Author

      leakeem 3 years ago from Earth

      Didn't notice that. Thank you for correcting me. Fixed it!

    • profile image

      JimV 3 years ago

      Be sure to spell the configuration entry correctly -- it's "cache" and not "cahce" in the reference, because it's not easily deleted or changed once created.

      "browser.cache.memory.capacity", NOT "browser.cahce.memory.capacity"