Firefox Memory Hog

Now, for almost as long as I can remember (yes, I have a short memory), I have been a big fan of Firefox. I work on web applications so I have quite a few browsers installed, but generally I stick to Firefox for most browsing, with IE as a “backup” for those odd little sites which are cabbaged in other browsers. Opera is installed, but it doesn’t get used as often as the “big two” and the Seamonkey / Mozila etc browsers are hardly touched (anyone use Amaya for browsing?).

Recently, Firefox informed me that it had been updated and needed a restart. I dutifully complied and everything seemed to run fine.

As the hours and days passed, I noticed that my system was becoming slower and slower – web pages were taking an eternity to open and when I was running Photoshop or other system intensive applications everything really was starting to slow down. For reference, my system is an Athlon 64 x2 3800+ (Dual processor) with 1gb of ram. You would hope, that it would be fast at web browsing and basic office applications. It was, until recently…

Some initial research revealed that crap-shop-crap-ISP Pipex was providing me with a fraction of the broadband service they claimed, which explains the slow web pages (somewhat), but the problem remains in locally hosted pages. Despite my disgust with Pipex, they can’t really be blamed for everything else slowing down either.

Eventually, I cracked and bothered myself to look into this. Opening task manager reveals a possible cause of the problems. Firefox is a massive memory hog. I mean massive.

An example I had Firefox open with nothing other than this blog displayed. IE was running with this blog, Flickr, eBay and gmail tabs open.

Firefox was using 164mb of RAM vs IE which was using 98mb. IE had more tabs open and the tabs had more data-heavy pages.

What on Earth has the world come to. I tried opera with the blog page and flickr open and it hardly registered a byte. Blimey.

It seems that firefox, at least with this current “Upgrade” has become a worse memory hog than IE. Opera is like lightning in comparison to Firefox, but it always has been – seeing IE more responsive and less memory intensive is pretty shocking. I am going to look into this a bit more, but I would be interesting in hearing any other experiences on this subject.

[tags]Firefox, Mozilla,Internet Explorer, Opera, IE, Technology, Web Browsers, RAM, Memory, System Resources, Computers, Computing, Software, Problems, IT, Upgrade, Pipex, ISP, Amaya, Internet[/tags]

10 thoughts on “Firefox Memory Hog

  1. Dammit. I was wondering why stuff was running slow while I browsed on firefox – mine uses 115mb with 7 tabs open, whereas IE uses 47mb. This may necessitate me learning to use a new browser. Which do you recommend?

  2. I been using Firefox for years (since it was called Phoenix) and it has always had the memory issue.
    It is still my browser of choice but I’m liking the new Opera 9.5 alpha. It is surprisingly stable and fast. There are ways to get some pretty good ad-blocking enabled, if that is stopping you from using Opera.

    You might want to give mozilla K-melon a shot, it is sort of like what Firefox was supposed to be, small and lightweight in terms of memory footprint.

    I pretty much only use IE7 when running windows update, some of the add-ons like IE7pro give you some mouse gestures and ad-blocking make it more usable than IE6.

    good luck.

  3. How do you check the memory used in Task manager?

    I see that firefox.exe is approximately 73,000 K. Total (when I add up all processes) is over 156000 K.

    I noticed today, when I clicked on an email I shouldn’t have, and it tried to open a web page, that Firefox actually popped up a message that I was going to a suspect site. Not Outlook, or my virus checker, but Firefox. I never noticed that before. To do that, it must load something into memory, right?

  4. I’ve noticed as much too although to be fair, on Windows, it seems to be playing nicer than it has in a while. I’ll stick with Safari as my day-to-day UA for the Mac though.

  5. one IE7 window uses about one third of the memory of Firefox 23 vs 72
    going up to 3 tabs each made only a slight difference. However i have known firefox to use well over 100mb. Perhaps it fails to release no longer required memory??

  6. Thanks for all the comments.

    Neil – you’ve hit my thoughts bang on. I am convinced that Firefox has a memory issue and isn’t freeing up memory.

    Ben D – I would say Opera is looking favourite.

    Null – Glad to see you back. Macs are still Satan’s PC.

    CMOT – I have only tried K-Melon in Linux so I am not sure how it runs in Windows. I will try to give it a shot over the weekend.

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  9. I suggest people look for enigma browser and download it from

    You can find the link just above the products and you can download it for free.

    Engima runs faster than Firefox and you can easily run 32 tabs and not slow down the machine.

  10. The figures I see mentioned above are miniscule compared to MY Firefox appetite!
    Over the last few days, since I discovered just how much of a memory hog Ffox is, I’ve been checking Task Mngr. several times a day,now!

    I routinely come up with a figure between 350,000 and 400,000
    and I don’t like to run more than 3 or 4 tabs at a time!

    Running a webcam site wot starts up Java seems to build the figure significantly, but even without that, it still climbs and climbs.

    Unless they/Ffox DO something about this, I’m on the hunt for a new browser, since Ffox severely cuts into the efficiency of my Skype(for starters!)

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