Random Tidbits: Firefox Memory Leak

We have come so far, eh?

I probably should use Chrome or Safari (I’m on a Mac) but over the years I’ve become rather attached to using Firefox. Originally, it was because I wasn’t fond of how integrated (and security prone) Internet Explorer was. And Safari was pretty light on capabilities for certain things I needed so I had no choice but to use Firefox.

Over the years, Firefox has become somewhat “bloatware”. It has all the necessary bits that are needed to traverse the wilds of the internet and then some. Not surprisingly, this includes how much memory it takes. These days my Firefox eats up 1-1.5GB of memory. I only have 16GB so taking that much is quite a bit (!!!).

I don’t have a lot of extensions or add-ons. Nor do I open lots of tabs (usually there are 5-8 main ones and then an additional 2-3 that I’ll open throughout the day). So, what on earth was causing Firefox to eat up all those resources?

Well, after doing some search I did find something to help me determine the cause. Open any Firefox tab and type the following in the address bar:


About: Memory

This will load a page that looks like:

Screenshot 2014-04-01 16.08.17
About:Memory on Firefox

Now you can click on verbose but it does generate a whole whack of extra data (very fine detail). Starting with the Measure button is best. From that you’ll be able to see what the culprit is. For example:

Screenshot 2014-04-01 15.28.23
A snippet of a memory report from Firefox

As I look at mine, I see one of the larger culprits is Gmail. In this snippet (taken immediately after shutting down and restarting Firefox), I can see that the windowing process (tabs) is taking a good chunk of resources at nearly 300MB of the 700MB. Gmail is next at nearly 15% of the resources (approximately 101MB).

To help me see things better, I collapse the child processes so I could see the main ones:

Screenshot 2014-04-01 16.20.49
Collapsed Child Process.

Collapsed, it becomes clear that the window objects are all the tabs, with Gmail top on the list. And my Add-ons take less than what Gmail does. So I may go to a native client for my Gmail to see if that helps with resources. But having this as an option to see how Firefox operates definitely helps. The other form of troubleshooting would have been to manually remove/stop every Add-On and then turn them on one a time to see if things change. This definitely allowed me to drill down quickly to the cause and there are ways for me to address this to reduce this behaviour.

Oh, where to begin? Let's see.. I lived in the US for 13 years (3 years in NYC and 10 years in Los Angeles area). I'm a huge MMORPG fan (I've been a die-hard World of Warcraft player since mid-2007 -- For the Horde!). And have numerous tattoos, including one about VMware and one about Warcraft. I enjoy the occasional cigar with a single malt (for a while, I even had a cigar aficionado blog). I used to enjoy long distance solo cycling and am hoping to restart it here in Nova Scotia. I live just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia with my wife, our 3 cats and our Golden Retriever.

I'd love to hear from y'all. Leave me a message or comment!

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