Home > Hardware and Software, Windows Vista, Windows XP > FireFox slow to load? Auto-updates can drag you down!

FireFox slow to load? Auto-updates can drag you down!

April 9, 2008

The past few weeks, as I’ve further customized my FireFox installations at home and work, I’ve noticed one thing—FireFox has gotten slower and slower at work. My home computer is a monster that calculates the meaning of life in sheer moments; however, my office computer is a poor, dying Precision 670 that rattles and whimpers when VS2008 pegs the CPUs at 100%. 

The other day, I started troubleshooting the slowdown.

  • I removed all the “had to have” plugins to see if that was the problem.  Nope.
  • I disabled all of the plugins.  Nope.
  • I accepted that it was going to be slower than IE8 and just never closed it. Yep.

Okay, but that’s no way to live.  There had to be an answer and there is!

I stumbled across this today, but it appears that the issue lies not with the computer (well, not totally), but a great deal with our slow network and the “auto update” feature of Firefox.

Auto Updates in Firefox 2.0

By turning off the auto-updates, Firefox once again starts blazing fast. 

Now, the trade-off, of course, is REMEMBERING and dealing with updating my add-ons myself.  I wish Firefox only checked once a week, once a day, SOMETHING—not everytime the browser opens. 

Is there a way to set that?  Maybe.

If you browse to about:config in Firefox, you’re presented with the various settings.  From there, filter with ‘update’.

There are a few preferences that may help :

  • app.update.interval – I’m assuming this is FireFox’s update interval (the first option shown above).  It defaults to 86400 (assuming seconds, so that’s be 24 hours or once a day).
  • browser.search.updateinterval – Assuming this is the third option shown above, updating the search engines available in FireFox.  It defaults to 6, which… 6 seconds?  Hmm.
  • extensions.update.interval – Finally, the interval of the extensions, but it defaults to 86400 as well, or once a day.  If that’s the case, I’d assume Firefox would be slow (at max) once, not every time.

So, a bit more information, but no definate answer. 

  1. avalon01
    September 19, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    True too many plugins will slow down firefox but to really improve page loading and general browsing speed you need to do this :- http://www.nettechguide.com/how-to-speed-up-firefox-page-loading-times/ and edit the about config in the browser. You can get a plugin called fasterfox from fasterfox.mozdev.org or something like that as well (has a similar effect)

    It should make the whole browser perform much more rapidly.

  2. September 29, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    browser.search.updateinterval – is not 6 seconds. It is measured in hours. It is a positive integer indicating the number of hours between checks for updated search plugins. The default value is 6.

  3. January 21, 2009 at 10:45 am

    You may also want to check out the following website for more information on the mozilla configuration options . . .
    http://kb.mozillazine.org/About:config_entries – About:Config_entries
    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Category:Preferences – category:Preferences

  4. Mark
    February 12, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    This worked for me. My firefox has been loading pages really slow. Its been driveing me crazy Ive tryed all kinds of things but turning off the updates worked great! Thanks so much for the advice!

  5. February 17, 2009 at 11:04 am

    After much digging I found out how to turn off the updates. Your screen shot would be more useful if you noted how to get to those settings, not just that you need to…

    Tools > Options > Advanced

  6. February 20, 2009 at 9:33 am

    disabling the auto update works! Thanks so much! i was ready to throw in the towel and chuck my computer to the dumpster!

  7. Nora
    February 26, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Awesome! Thank you so much for this! Like wring above me, I thought it was my laptop and was about to freak out.

  8. April 8, 2009 at 7:14 am

    People please be carefull when disabling the automatic updates. At the moment Firefox is being heavily targetted by malicious people trying to hack into your systems. Only recently Mozilla had to update due to security reasons. If you are going to disable the auto updates, then keep an eye on any possible attacks on Firefox.

    The good news is that Mozilla are always quick to patch problems, unlike Microsoft who have still not addressed security issues from last year (2 are still outstanding!)

    The more popular Firefox becomes, and it is getting more popular (I recommend to everyone) the more it will be attacked by malicious software. Of course you could always move to Linux and be even safer!

  9. dr
    May 12, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Try using Firefoxpreloader.
    Longer computer startup, but faster when loading firefox

  10. Rani
    May 27, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    OMG!!!!……………Thank you so much…I deleted damn near everything off my computer. I was about to spend unneeded money ’cause this was driving me NUTTS!!!!

  11. Nathan
    June 17, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Can’t they defer the update checking until after firefox loads?

    • June 23, 2009 at 6:41 am

      They might now… that post is over a year old with, I believe, FireFox 2.0. We’re at 3.5 now. 🙂 The options for checking for updates are still there, but the delay has been gone since v3.0.

  12. Regoolian
    August 9, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    No 3.5 is still slow to load at random times with my laptop with updates on and quick once I turn them off! :S

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