Mozilla Project MemShrink Looks Into Speeding Up Firefox

Firefox has a long standing history of excessive memory usage and slow startups. No matter how much of tweaking and customization we make, Firefox will still remain the same slow browser. This is finally identified as a problem at Mozilla and they are working on fixing the biggest annoyance in Firefox: the speed issues.


When I talk about speed in this post, it is not related to the speed of surfing the Internet. I am talking about the responsiveness and startup of Firefox. The long waiting hours will soon be over and project MemShrink is here to make sure of that.

MemShrink is a project that aims to reduce Firefox’s memory consumption. There are three potential benefits:

  1. Speed: less cache pressure, and less paging. The latter is crucial, as it can destroy performance.
  2. Stability: fewer OOMs, whether due to address space exhaustion or otherwise. This results in fewer crashes (due to mishandling of OOM) or aborts.
  3. Perception: fewer people will complain about Firefox being a memory hog.

From what this page tells me, Mozilla has a number of leaks to take care of which have piled up over time. Mozilla developer Johnny Stenback has talked of the project MemShrink saying,

to help get more attention to this issue we’ll be starting up a MemShrink effort, where a group of people will get together to look at the big picture, triage bugs, investigate general approaches, and do some brainstorming.

One positive outcome from this will definitely be some improvement on Firefox memory usage, which shoots up with time and does that abnormally. The same problem is encountered on other browsers as well and sometimes, the Windows Task Manager cannot be trusted for correct memory usage readings. The fact is, Firefox is slow and this needs to change in future versions.

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