The open-source Mozilla Firefox Web browser can occasionally cause system slowness due to abnormally high memory and virtual memory usage. There are a variety of causes for high memory usage in Firefox, including poorly coded add-ons, large download history and website history databases, and misconfiguration of the Windows paging file. It can be difficult to pinpoint what exactly is causing Firefox to use high levels of memory, but by implementing a few tweaks to your system and to the Firefox software, you can greatly reduce the virtual memory and physical memory usage of the browser.
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Ensure that you are using the latest version of Firefox by selecting "Help" and then "Check for Updates." Firefox updates regularly address memory issues, so it is essential that you run the latest version of Firefox.
Click "Start," type "firefox -safe-mode" in the search box and then press "Enter" to launch Firefox in Safe Mode. When Firefox runs in Safe Mode, all themes and add-ons are disabled. If you notice that virtual memory usage is reduced in Safe Mode, this may indicate that one of your themes or extensions is causing Firefox to use excessive memory. It is not possible to isolate which add-on in particular is the culprit, so it will be necessary to uninstall extensions and themes one by one in order to determine which add-on is causing the problems.
Select "Tools" and then "Clear Recent History" in Firefox to delete stored history, cookies, download information and other browser data. A large download history list in particular can greatly slow Firefox and cause it to use excessive memory.
Consider installing Firefox extensions designed to reduce page-loading needs by blocking or hiding elements such as Flash, Java and advertisements. Flash Block, AdBlock Plus and No Script are all extensions that will reduce virtual memory needs by hiding web page elements that typically tax system memory.
Consider removing browser plug-ins that you do not need. The Flash and Adobe Reader plug-ins are particularly resource-intensive and can boost virtual memory usage a great deal. Removing these plug-ins will immediately improve Firefox performance.
Right-click on "My Computer" and select "Properties."
Select the "Advanced" tab and then click "Settings" in the "Performance" section.
Click the "Advanced" tab and then click "Change" in the "Virtual Memory" section.
Select "Custom Size" and enter an initial and maximum virtual memory size greater than the current setting. This will increase the size of the Windows paging file, resolving a common problem with Firefox virtual memory usage.
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