Using BarTab to reduce Firefox Memory Consumption


Hello all.

I am a fervent user of the great browser known as Mozilla Firefox. Been using it since it was version 2.x something. I was so tired with IE offloading tons of viruses on me at that time that I figured that there MUST be a safer browser out there in the wild. I tried a few before settling to Mozilla, namely Maxthon and Kmeleon. I should write an article about alternative browsers someday. *note to self*

Anyway, I like Firefox a lot, or affectionately FF if you want. 3.5x is awesome. 4.x promises to be even better. However, there is one problem that’s been around Firefox since like, forever: memory consumption.

FF consumes a lot of memory when you have many tabs open. And I often have a lot of tabs opened. Specially multiple links from the same source opened in different tabs. I got that bad habit; if it can be considered a bad habit.

So, I was casually browsing someday with around 30 tabs opened when I discovered a nice addon called: BarTab. Don’t ask how they came up with that name, I got no idea. Why would anyone name a memory-recovery addon “BarTab”?

Its purpose is to unload tabs that you haven’t visited in a while, and load them again when you focus (click) on them. It’s like opening the tab again, but automatically.

This simple concept allows you to save quite some memory, specially if you like to leave tabs on, do something else, and come back to your previously opened tabs after a while. It’ll not be a major saving, but around 30-40MB of savings are inorder.

To illustrate and prove if this addon works, I conducted a small test. I opened around 20 tabs from random Google searches (I hope I didn’t catch any virus in doing that!) as well as a few media pages like DeviantArt, Youtube and Toyota Europe’s website (Nice music!). I then let BarTab do its magic while leaving the tabs untouched in the background for a minute or two. (Time delay is configurable).

The results, before and after are below:



Not bad huh? The 20-ish tabs are still there, but unloaded. The only annoying thing about BarTab is that you have to wait a bit for pages to reload. If you have a fast connection, it shouldn’t be a problem, but for those with slower connections, you will probably find the delay slightly annoying.

That’s all for BarTab for now. If you have more tricks to reduce FF’s memory usage, comment box’s found below!

  • And why don’t you switch to Chrome, simply?
    I have been using firefox too, until I found out that Chrome is more quick to start, crashes less (rarely), more responsive when switching tabs, extensions etc…

  • InF

    I do use Chrome as my backup browser. Or when I need to do some quick browsing or testing.

    But FF is my first love. And I really like all its addons and stuff.