Firefox Slow Loading Multiple Tabs
I’ve used Firefox for years now and always been very impressed with it. Sure, it was a memory hog, and still is to a certain extent, but in all fairness, when you routinely have over 20 tabs open as you go through your day, you can’t expect a tiny footprint.
However, after a recent ill-advised attempt at speeding up a certain process that uses runs in a browser but isn’t a website per se, by tweaking the Firefox about:config file, I had an issue with my tabs taking forever to load, especially when I tried to open several tabs at once by CTRL-click.
I would click to open multiple tabs and then notice that they just sat there spinning the little circle graphic and taking forever to load.
First, were the lame network.http settings recommended all over the Internet.
Second, was the Speed Dial plug-in.
Speed Dial Plug-In Slows Down Firefox
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Speed Dial plug-in, it is the greatest improvement to Firefox, or any web browser since tabs. Functionality similar to Speed Dial’s should be the default home page of every web browser instead of just a list of the 9 most used or most recently used web sites.
Instead of just a list of sites, like bookmarks, Speed Dial has thumbnails of each site to help both with navigation and to jog your memory about what each site is based on a quick look. It can even be used to tell if a website has been updated with a quick glance. For example, one of my sites in one of my Speed Dial pages is Woot. I can take a quick look and see if it is worth a click to go check out the deal of the day.
The functionality is taken from Opera’s Speed Dial which allows a user to set their own websites on a screen just like the home page for Google Chrome. There are 9 (configurable) spaces per page and multiple pages can be added. They appear along the top as tabs. This allows you to setup your own go-to list of sites according to task or function or time of day, or whatever you want.
I have several groupings ranging from my own sites, to sites with great online deals, to sites with Microsoft news, to sites with webmaster tools, and so on.
Speed Dial Firefox plug-in is very configurable and yet, works great without any configuration if you choose. You can set the name for each website, or have it dynamically generated. You can also configure how the thumbnails are generated.
This is where I got into to trouble. Having never really thought about it, I just set all of my thumbnails to refresh every 1 hour or something like that. For normal users, that might cause any issues, but as a power Internet user, who has come to love Speed Dial, I have 8 pages each with 9 websites on them. For certain tasks, I might open one or two sites from each page. I do this by pressing the control-click combination to open each site in a new tab so I can just get all of the sites launched at once.
So, here is what is happening in the background that I didn’t consider. As I open each page, it has most likely been more than 1 hour, so the thumbnail tries to refresh for all 9 sites on every page. Do the math, and I am trying to open maybe 81 websites if I happen to select one off of each page. That is in addition to whatever I am actually trying to do in the foreground. Depending upon how many “Persistent” connections you have setup and how many total connections, those slow loading webpages probably aren’t loading slow, they are waiting for time-outs to elapse before doing anything.
Setting my Speed Dial thumbnails, particularly those that don’t update in a way that is very readable in the thumbnail, or those that I don’t care what the current page looks like, to only refresh every 14 days or 21 days or whatever, fixes the issue. Now, when I click on the 2nd Speed Dial page maybe only one of the 9 websites is trying to refresh its thumbnail.
By, the way, I put back all of the network.http back to realistic numbers and my Firefox is indeed faster, but pumping them way up doesn’t help anything.