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Thread: Firefox Memory Leaks

  1. #1
    Local Pedant Contributor lazserus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    The Mothership

    Firefox Memory Leaks

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    During Firefox version 3 there was an uproar about memory leaks and, as updates were made to the browser, attempts to fix the problem failed. Even now with Firefox 5 (v4 only lasted a couple of months) Mozilla's team hasn't corrected the problem. There is, however, a solution to the problem.

    But first I should explain what a memory leak is for those who do not know. A memory leak is an error in software coding wherein the longer the application remains open the more memory it sucks up. When a user launches the Firefox browser, the minimum amount of memory is allocated to it, and that is considering no addons are installed. Every installed extension to Firefox increases the minimum amount of memory required to run the browser, thus the more addons one has the more memory is required. Now consider users opening multiple tabs in a single session, each tab requiring extra memory not just for the tab but also to run all the extensions in that tab. So, for every tab you open in a Firefox session, the browser increases its memory usage.

    Superficially, this extra amount of RAM accessed as a user opens new tabs is negligible. But with a memory leak this can quickly turn into a nightmare. Just the other day I had a Firefox session open for a 24-hour period, cycling between one and three tabs inside the session at one time. However, after being open for so long, my laptop began to drag significantly. It took upwards of 60 seconds for a menu to open on my desktop when right-clicking. I opened Task Manager and noticed Firefox at the time was using roughly 1.2 gigabytes of RAM for just three tabs (and I have under 10 extensions installed). This is downright INSANE! And so I did some research. Apparently Mozilla has not yet fixed its memory leaking issues, thus requiring users to basically kill the firefox.exe process and start from scratch on a semi-regular basis in order to purge system memory.

    During my research regarding Firefox's memory leakage I discovered a nifty little tool that will alleviate the problem, keeping the browser's RAM requirements down and preventing leakage from occurring. Since I've been using this tool I have had no problems with Firefox sucking up RAM, nor have I noticed any significant performance loss from the application. This tool is called Firemin.

    The settings are simple and the tool works! What you want to do is download the tool, extract it somewhere, then set it to start at launch. Otherwise every time you reboot your machine you'll have to hunt down the executable and launch manually. If you don't know how to set something to launch at startup, I will gladly walk you through the process when requested. It's too easy.

    I have only been using Firemin a handful of days, but I can safely say my boggling memory issues with Firefox have vanished since employing this tool. If these guys can figure out how to stop the memory leaks, why can't the Mozilla team?

  2. #2
    . Contributor
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Toronto, ON. Canada
    Laz, you're seriously my hero right now.

    My computer has been giving me a hard time for quite some time now. Quite a few really annoying things kept happening, the worst of which would be the video card crashing while I was trying to play Browser Based Games (like my beloved Minecraft or BSG) - seeing how I use Firefox, this thread really intrigued me.

    The other night I decided to look into this, so I set up my Task Manager to show the memory usage while I was playing around on the computer. Even with nothing happening firefox would continue to soak up more and more memory just like you said.

    Normally I leave my computer on 24/7, more often than not Firefox is open with a few tabs. This completely explains why my computer was giving me such a hard time, it was simply running out of resources.

    I've since installed this Firemin program, and I've got to say it's working like a charm. I haven't had any issues with crashes since I've started using it.

    Thanks for the help, and keep posting these types of threads for us!

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