Mozilla Still Flummoxed by Firefox' Appetite for Memory

Anyone who uses Firefox on Windows knows the browser has an almost insatiable appetite for memory, and it's not unheard of for PCs to allocate a half GB or more of memory just to the browser alone. Mozilla continues to deny that Firefox leaks much memory, but Christopher Blizzard, a member of Mozilla's board, says fixing the issue is a priority - - especially now that the browser developers are seeking to plow directly into the mobile space. Writes Blizzard:

"As Mozilla starts down the path to running in the mobile space we are spending time looking at memory pressure issues more closely. . . (I)t sounds like the early data suggests that Mozilla really doesn't leak that much memory at all. But it does thrash the allocator pretty hard and that's what causes the perception of memory leaks."

View: Full Story @ CRN

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Warner Bros. to buy TT Games

Next Story

Driver Magician Lite 3.32

46 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

My dualcore Athlon with 2 GIGS of RAM has never experienced such things with FF. Im not a fanboy, i only use firefox because of Ubuntu (how i discovered it). But ive never had it go over 100 mb and that was with all flash tabs open and other high-memory usages. Trying to do it with any other browser would have crippled the poor machine.

I used FF exclusively as my default browser for well over a year and a half. I finally gave up with the memory leaks. It's not my job to try disabling this or disabling that or tweak this or that. I did that, and I still ran into huge, totally unjustified memory use on my 1 GB machine. I use Opera now and I love it. It's free but not open source. But it does everything I could possibly need a browser to do, it does it fast, and it does it in a normal amount of memory. It's also wonderfully customizable. One thing I really like is that the email reader is fully integrated into it. A lot of my email use involves support groups on the internet, and it's very useful for me to have email as just another open tab in the browser. Perhaps the greatest advantage is that both browser and email use the same aspell spellcheck dictionary (this is on Windows XP). My text editor (notepad++) also uses the same dictionary. There's nothing stupider than to have a separate spellcheck dictionary for each application. In my opinion, the current versions of Opera rank right up there as the very greatest free software available today.

614 MB usage at this very moment.


Granted I have 103 Tabs open; but when i close and then start again with the same 103 tabs its around 200 MB. So somewhere 403 MB appear. Sounds fishy, I definitely think there is a leak.

My is a stock 32bit Windows Vista install on a 2gig single core AMD. I have a total of sixteen extensions loaded and forty tabs running (some with Flash) and the total memory being used by FF2 is 327mb. A single page will consume about 94mb (with all necessary extensions enabled). This is really not that bad given that most system ship with at least 1gig.

If there is something they should invest in is working on more stable builds for Linux. In my experience at least, Firefox is much more stable on XP or Vista than it is on Linux (even without plug-ins or extensions enabled). It would also be nice to see a good x64 build that was official (i.e. better support for extensions and plug-ins).

Looking forward to Firefox 3...

my record firefox memory usage was 1.6GB

if you leave firefox open on a page that contains AJAX that refreshes a portion of the page it will just keep taking more and more memory

Please write steps to reproduce (starting from a new profile) with your user agent string and the site that causes this. I would be happy to file a bug on this problem and get it looked at.

I noticed this issue myself, on an intranet site I'm doing for my company (so no code to show I'm afraid). It does 2-3 small XMLHTTPRequest calls every 10 seconds, and gets seriously bogged-down after about 10-15 minutes. (That's on a new session with only a couple of extensions.) The usage goes up to about 140-150MB, which is a large problem on client machines with only 250MB RAM.

I'm sure it would be easy enough to throw together a proof-of-concept to demonstrate this; my code isn't doing anything special, just repeatedly grabbing a set of values and creating HTML elements to display them.

Something people aren't mentioning in the above reports, but which might be quite significant, is their cache settings. The client machines in the above example are on default settings (50MB disk cache), but at home I use zero cache and the memory leak on the same site actually isn't quite as bad. Why's that then?

Without observing a testcase in a debug build, who can say why one thing and not the other. If you could make a minimal testcase that'd certainly help.

While sat here in FF 2 with 18 tabs open thinking it is using a rather lot of memory, I thought but how does it compare. I did little test.

All these are on a fully patched Win32 XP SP2 Pro machine with 2GB RAM.

Browser Fresh 18Tabs
IE7 --------- 32MB -- 123MB
FF1.5 ------- 18MB --- 60MB
FF2 --------- 20MB --- 68MB
MyFF2 ------- 68MB -- 120MB
FF3 --------- 31MB --- 65MB
Opera9.24 --- 18MB --- 74MB

MyFF2 = As a web developer I use alot of extentions, MyFF is my setup of FF which has 47 active extensions installed, 1 theme, 8 plugins and a bookmarks file of 1.2MB.

Cryton said,
How are you measuring memory usage? Task manager? If so, using 'Mem Usage' or 'VM Size'?

Task manager Mem Usage, should I be using something different?

Well, Firefox doesn't start out using a heap of memory. I'm down at 40ish MB or so currently. However, after an hour or two, it'll start picking up if I'm not mistaken. As I said in a previous post above, my FF has gotten to 141MB on usage, and I have maybe a 3rd of the extensions you have.

Dakkaroth said,
Well, Firefox doesn't start out using a heap of memory. I'm down at 40ish MB or so currently. However, after an hour or two, it'll start picking up if I'm not mistaken. As I said in a previous post above, my FF has gotten to 141MB on usage, and I have maybe a 3rd of the extensions you have.

Had myFF running all night now, with the 18 tabs open some with ajax on them, 47 extensions some that refresh like forecast fox, gmail manger etc etc and the memory usage in fact has gone down a small amount to 118MB. So maybe one of the extensions you have installed is not working too well.

At the moment opera 9.5 beta is using 54MB, but that could be becase its beta or because i have 8 tabs open....

Pretty much. Opera runs great, but doesn't have everything I need and want. The memory problem never stops me from doing what I need to do anyhow. It will at least be comforting when they fix it.

Pippin666 said,
Now I can laugh at all the ff fanboys who denied the memory leakage problem ... until today! :)

Pip'


Well, I never denied it, it's a pain sometimes...and to let you know I am not a fanboy; I use Firefox & MSIE, and the same goes for Windows & Linux.


If I am a fanboy of anything, it's Technology.


Pippin666 said,
Now I can laugh at all the ff fanboys who denied the memory leakage problem ... until today! :)

Pip'


"(I)t sounds like the early data suggests that Mozilla really doesn't leak that much memory at all. But it does thrash the allocator pretty hard and that's what causes the perception of memory leaks."

Don't think I've ever seen it use more than 150MB of memory... I have 512MB total (minus integrated gfx.)

I personally use Opera on a daily basis. I find it uses less memory, works with all my sites and loads pages much faster.

I don't think they've acknowledged a memory leak AT ALL. Read their comments, and they say only that they have memory fragmentation issues, due to "thrashing the allocator". They also say it "doesn't leak that much memory at all."

What they are admitting to is a performance issue, not a memory leak.

I knew that FF could suck up RAM as the Minefield nightlies tend to eat around 50 to 55 Mb of memory on my laptop, but half a Gb is just unbelievable. Although I had wondered why the setting to release RAM on minimizing had seemed to stop working, because it has.

Firefox users search for a program called Firefox Ultimate Organizer. It crunches down memory use of firefox considerably to around 10 mb...

WarLuigi said,
Firefox users search for a program called Firefox Ultimate Organizer. It crunches down memory use of firefox considerably to around 10 mb...

It's actually called Firefox Ultimate Optimizer, but you were half right...unfortunately it is an Adware program!


It's actually called Firefox Ultimate Optimizer, but you were half right...unfortunately it is an Adware program![/quote]

Yeah sorry :P just noticed the typo when I refreshed. Adware???? Never had any adware bundled with it.

It really is, and i dont know if it has to do with extenstions, but sometimes firefox will start out at its normal memory rate and after a few tabs it ends up using almost a gig of memory, this shouldnt happen

1GB of ram? ... wtf something must be wrong with your firefox setup... cause mine never usually goes beyond 100MB ish (according to the task manager) (maybe 200MB TOPS) ... right now im @ 72MB

1GB of memory? It sounds like you've got some seriously duff extensions in there. Firefox is currently 32MB for me with several tabs open - obviously it goes higher with lots of Flash and more complicated pages. Hopefully the developers can tackle the memory problems but I'm still happy with Firefox as my default browser.

5 tabs (GMail being one of them), over 30 extensions, mainly of the developer type, 200MB memory used (working set 131MB).
Something wrong with your setup methinks.

they need to use native libraries for the platform they develop instead of the XUL or whatever they use to create the GUI.. it would make firefox look much more nicer in osx and less memory hungry in windows..

Neo-Lenin said,
ha... the FF Fanboy claim that FF uses least amount of memory and is perfect for the PC has been shot down
All i did was add a 'restart' option, and anytime it got too much (although the restart button is handy for more than just combating that), i click, and 5 secs later it's fresh.

LTD said,
FF is still the best choice for the PC, notwithstanding personal taste.

I prefer Opera, notwithstanding some individual's opinion.

It is memory hungry, without a doubt. I don't know how come the developers, who actually make it and know almost all about it, didn't know this - it's almost impossible. They must have known.

good that they actually acknowledge this now
and will fix it finally

of course it wasnt until everyone made noise about it that they did anything about it

X'tyfe said,
of course it wasnt until everyone made noise about it that they did anything about it

People have been unhappy about this for years and it hasn't been fixed; whether things turn out differently this time remains to be seen.