I'm a heavy tabbed browsing user - I have around 30 tabs open in my day-to-day Firefox profile all the time. Since the day Firefox 3 was released, I've noticed Firefox progressively getting slower with this particular Firefox profile (I use a different profile for web development). When it got to the point where changing tabs took a noticeable pause of 1-2 seconds, I tweaked some of Firefox's session store and history preferences and now things are blazing fast again.
Here's what you can do:
- Go to about:config in Firefox.
- Type in "session" in the "Filter" box.
- Edit browser.sessionhistory.max_entries - this is the number of pages stored in the history of your browsing session. Basically these are pages that can be reached using your Back and Forward buttons. The default is 50 - I reduced it to 20.
- Edit browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers - this is the number of pages that are stored in RAM so that they aren't re-processed by Firefox's rendering engine. This is what allows you to go Back to a page in Firefox and have it load almost instantaneously. The number of pages stored actually depends on the amount of RAM on your machine (see this). I reduced this to 4 (I have 2GB RAM).
- Edit browser.sessionstore.max_tabs_undo - the number of tabs you can restore after closing them (you can do this with Ctrl/Cmd-Shift-T). The default of 10 is more than I really need, so I reduced it to 3 tabs.
- Edit browser.sessionstore.interval - Firefox saves your session after every 10 seconds by default. I changed this to a more conservative 30000 milliseconds.
You can read more about these preferences and more at the MozillaZine Knowledge Base. If you've any tips on how to improve Firefox's performance, be sure to share!