Helping you balance your online life

Jul 2nd


Top 10 Browser Hacks for Faster Browsing

Are you looking to supercharge your Web browsing experience? Are you ready to get under the hood and get your hands dirty? Here are the top hacks for making Firefox perform at blazing speeds.
First, a few basics:

10. Blocking Ads

Beyond being annoying and largely useless, advertisements take up memory and slow page load times. Install an ad-blocker like AdBlock Plus and get rid of them!

9. Blocking Flash

If you really want to curate your browsing experience, you can also install FlashBlock, which will block all Flash animations. Your load times should go up dramatically, although if you play any online Flash games, this option may not be for you.

8. Install FastestFox

FastestFox is an extension designed to make Firefox go faster. It can also be a quick and easy way to get a little more performance if you don't feel like doing it yourself.

7. Uninstall Unnecessary Extensions and Plugins

While it may seem contradictory to advise uninstalling extensions right after recommending you install one, all extensions are not created equal. If you look in your Add-On manager (under Tools) and find a dozen or more extensions, your performance may be taking a significant hit. Likewise, it's likely that you have far more plugins enabled than you need. Do a little housecleaning and disable or jettison everything that isn't crucial. You can always add it back later.

Now comes the good stuff. The next few hacks are a bit more advanced, and let you get into the guts of Firefox.

The about:config page is the hidden control panel in Firefox. From here, you can change values and preferences that won't be found in the normal preferences menu. To get to it, just type "about:config" in your browser window and hit Enter. (You will most likely get a warning that playing with these preferences can "void your warranty," but you didn't come here to turn back in fear - you came to hack your browser! There is no Firefox warranty!)

6. Load pages faster

Normally, Firefox makes only one request at a time to load pages. If you have lots of tabs open while browsing (and really, why wouldn't you?) enabling pipelining will set Firefox to make several requests at once, resulting in faster loading. To do this:
  • Open about:config (see above)
  • Find the entry "network.http.pipelining" (you can type this in the search bar rather than scrolling through tons of entries).
  • Double-click to set the entry to "true."
  • Do the same for "network.http.proxy.pipelining," setting it to to "true"
  • Set "network.http.pipelining.maxrequests" to 50. You can play with this number to see how it affects performance.
  • Restart the browser.

5. Content Interrupt Parsing

This setting will determine whether input from the user interface will interrupt page loading. In about:config, right-click anywhere on the browser window and select New > Boolean. Type in content.interrupt.parsing and set it to true.

4. Shorten Your History

A long browser history can slow down Firefox. If you don't worry too much about what you browsed for in the past, make this simple change: in about:config, find browser.history_expire_days_min and change it to 10. This will result in Firefox forgetting any page you browsed more than 10 days ago.

3. Reduce Delay

Right-click anywhere on the config page. Select New > Integer. Now make an entry called "nglayout.initialpaint.delay" and set it to 0. This setting controls how long Firefox waits before displaying content from a webpage.

2. Disable Tab animation

In about:config, find "browser.tabs.animate" and set it to "false." This will make the user interface snappier.

1. Network Pre-Fetch

In about:config, set "network.prefetch-next" to "true." This setting tells Firefox to pre-emptively load content from sites the current page links to.