Making Firefox lean and secure

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Radical Dieting

Occasionally it happens that Firefox reacts very sluggishly to input while generating a high CPU load. The command-line tool htop helps you figure out whether it is the web browser that is slowing the computer down. If so, this could be because add-ons have gotten out of control and caused a high system load. These loads might even lead to a system crash.

In order to determine what is happening, you should start Firefox in safe mode, which in turn deactivates all of the installed add-ons and themes. You can initiate a safe start by picking the option Restart with Add-ons disables… from the browser Help menu or using the command-line call firefox --safe-mode .

If the browser now works significantly faster and does not cause any further problems, you should systematically disable all of the installed add-ons that and then reactivate them one by one. There is a description for the easiest way to do this on the support page which you can open by entering about:support .

This page provides plenty of information about the libraries, modules, and add-ons that are used, as well as modified browser options. If you click at the top right on the Refresh Firefox … button, the software will delete all of the add-ons, as well as some of the settings (Figure 5). This also affects changes that have previously been made to the configuration. The bookmarks, any open tabs, and saved passwords that have been activated all remain untouched.

Figure 5: Firefox offers a feature that allows for a complete reset to factory settings.

Generally, it is a good idea to activate a thorough cleaning like this only after you are sure that the add-ons are not responsible for the heavy load on the hardware.


Firefox tends to get less responsive with long sessions and the installation of lots of add-ons. Caches and log functions also increase the amount of memory required. The well-engineered concepts in this web browser help even the less experienced user put the browser on a sustainable data diet. This in turn leads to improved work speed. Regularly deleting the cache and switching off unnecessary log functions also gives you better data privacy and security protection. Tracking your search behavior does not work without these files. This applies to both local tracking and telemetry.

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