Firefox add-ons are a great way to add features and improve security in Mozilla‘s browser, but they can seriously slow performance too. Now Mozilla is taking action against those speed-killing extensions.
In an April 1 blog post, Mozilla product manager Justin Scott outlines a series of initiatives designed to minimize delays caused by add-ons.
“Firefox performance is extremely important to our users, especially how quickly it starts up and loads websites. Customization is also extremely important, and while most add-ons cause only a tiny performance impact, others can significantly slow down Firefox,” Scott writes.
The slowdown can be significant, particularly if you’re running several add-ons at a time. According to Mozilla, each add-on adds about 10 percent to Firefox’s startup time. The company’s performance data shows that installing 10 add-ons will double the amount of time it takes the browser to launch.
In an era where speed is king–performance is the most appealing attribute of the latest versions of Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer — the move to address speed-killing add-ons is critical. Mozilla’s new Firefox 4 browser promises faster graphics rendering, page loads, and startup times. Faster add-ons will help the new version succeed, too.
So what’s Mozilla doing about slow extensions? First, it’s running automated performance tests on the top 100 add-ons and posting the results. The worst offenders, which currently include the FoxLingo Translator/Dictionary and Firebug, a developer’s tool, will be publicly shamed. Users will know which add-ons to avoid.
Mozilla is asking developers of slow add-ons to improve the speed of their software. In addition, its add-on gallery will show warnings of programs that slow Firefox’s startup time by 25 percent or more. A future version of Firefox will display these warnings in the browser’s Add-Ons Manager too.
Third-party software is notorious for installing performance-killing browser toolbars and other add-ons without your permission. To prevent that, an upcoming version of Firefox will not allow the installation of third-party add-ons in the browser without your consent.
“We expect this to have a huge impact on Firefox performance, as well as giving users back the control they should have over their add-ons,” Scott writes.
What Firefox Users Can Do
If your version of Firefox is running slowly, the best way to speed it up is to disable add-ons you aren’t using. These instructions from Mozilla tell you how to disable or uninstall add-ons. By turning off an add-on, you’re preventing it from loading (and slowing) the browser. Since you haven’t uninstalled it, however, you can always reactivate the add-on later, if you need it.