Making Firefox lean and secure

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Firefox tends to get sluggish pretty quickly when it is used intensively. There are some settings and add-ons available that can help it pick up speed again.

Mozilla Firefox is undoubtedly one of the best web browsers available. Thanks to its modular construction, it can be configured very precisely and also expanded to include many additional functions. However, heavy Internet use can lead to sluggishness for this browser. It may start slowly and websites may also load slowly. There are a few maneuvers you can use to handily help Firefox regain its original speed.


Many of the conveniences found in Firefox come at the expense of storing data, either temporarily or permanently. This data is not limited to things like URLs you have visited over the Internet and the content of websites you have visited. The Mozilla corporation, which develops and maintains the browser, also collects numerous pieces of user data by means of a series of default settings in order to improve the software and to stay informed of its operating condition.

Under Linux, you will see that large volumes of data quickly accumulate in the $HOME/.mozilla/firefox/ directory and its subdirectories. In addition to status reports that the browser collects and transmits to Mozilla servers, these directories contain crash reports and many other types of data. The software also saves up to five backups of your bookmarks even if you have used the corresponding dialog to save these externally.

The browser does anonymize the data, but it also saves it locally without any set intervals for deletions. As a result, more and more garbage in the form of data collects over time in the relevant subdirectories. In short, data continues to get collected and saved even though Firefox allows for deactivation of the individual functions under Advanced | Data Choices in the Settings menu.

All of the so-called telemetry ping data that Firefox collects about the computer system via the current browser version, various benchmark values, and extensions that have been installed ends up in duplicate also on the local system. The duplicates include a compressed and uncompressed version, both of which are available for transmission to the Mozilla servers.


The first thing you should do in order to eliminate data collection and random local storage is to switch off all of the report functions in the Settings menu (Figure 1). This prevents transmission of generated information, but it does not stop collection activities. Putting a stop to data collection requires going into the browser's internal workings. Your next step is to open the Firefox configuration dialog by entering about:config in the address line.

Figure 1: You should deactivate the transfer of telemetric data to Mozilla.

After confirming the alert message, you will find yourself in the configuration editor. When you enter the expression toolkit.telemetry in the search field, a list of relevant administration options will appear. You should look for the following three entries: toolkit.telemetry.archive.enabled , toolkit.telemetry.enabled , and toolkit.telemetry.unified . By double-clicking, you set each to false . This deactivates all data collection for the telemetry.

If you want to be absolutely sure that the browser is not sending any data whatsoever to Mozilla, you should also delete the data in both of the lines toolkit.telemetry.server and toolkit.telemetry.infoURL (Figure 2).

Figure 2: In order to prevent the gathering and transfer of the telemetry data, you will need to intervene in the browser's internal workings.

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