How to Reduce Virtual Memory Usage for Firefox

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When Mozilla Firefox uses too much memory, it can adversely affect computer performance. Most Firefox memory problems come from extensions, an out-of-date version of the browser or an excessive number of open tabs. By keeping up-to-date and being judicious about your extensions and content, you can keep your browser running smoothly. Giving Firefox a restart now and then doesn't hurt either, especially if it's been a while.

Check Memory Usage

  • There are two ways to measure Firefox's memory usage: The Windows Task Manager and Firefox's about:memory page.

    Task Manager shows Firefox's total memory usage compared to other apps and processes. To access the Task Manager, press Ctrl-Alt-Del on your keyboard and select Task Manager. Windows 8 users can also press Windows-X and select Task Manager from the power user menu.

    About:memory gives a detailed breakdown Firefox's memory usage. To access it, start Firefox and type about:memory in the address bar, then press the Enter key. On the page, click Measure to analyze Firefox's memory usage.

Update Firefox

  • If you're not running the latest version of Firefox, updating can help with some memory issues. Firefox typically updates automatically or prompts you to update depending on your settings.

    To manually update Firefox, click the Menu button followed by Help. Select About Firefox and wait for Firefox to download the latest update. Click Restart Firefox to Update to complete the update process.

Close Unnecessary Tabs

  • While tabs are handy for multitasking online, having too many of them open at one time can slow down Firefox. Each tabbed Web page is stored in Firefox's memory, adding to the amount of overall memory used. Well-organized bookmarks are a good way to reduce your tab usage, as websites that need to be visited frequently but not open constantly should be closed when not in use.

Update or Disable Extensions

  • Carefully choosing which extensions you really want or need is key to reducing memory consumption, especially if you run a lot of extensions. Keeping extensions up-to-date can also be helpful.

    Use the Firefox Plugin Check page to check whether your plugins need updating. Click Update Now for anything out-of-date. This is generally only required for plugins: Regular extensions update automatically, unless you've disabled automatic updates in your Firefox settings.

    To disable or remove an extension, click the Menu button, followed by Add-ons. Click Disable to switch off the extension or Remove to uninstall it.

Use Content-Blocking Extensions

  • Scripted content like videos, interactive Web interfaces, games and ads all add to Firefox's memory consumption. Several extensions are available to reduce how much of this content is displayed and thus how much memory it consumes. Flash and script blockers often disrupt the scripted functions of websites like YouTube, banking websites and online stores. Use the extension's built-in whitelist to create exemptions for these sites and restore their full functionality.

    *Ad blockers like Adblock Plus block intrusive advertisements like banners and ad videos.

    *Flash blockers like Flashblock stop all Flash-based content from playing.

    *Complete script blockers like NoScript are the "nuclear" option and block absolutely all scripts except those added to the extension's whitelist.

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