The Firefox memory leak that is actually a feature

November 1st, 2006

There's been quite a bit of talk the past few days about Firefox 2.0 and the memory leak which seems to have resurfaced in the latest release.  Well, it seems that it isn't a bug after all, it's a feature:

Even after at least hundreds of posts on, even after a Slashdot article there’s thousands of people out there complaining about the Firefox Memory Bug.  Lets get it straight.  It’s not a bug.  It’s part of the cache feature.  This ‘feature’ is how the pages are cached in a tabbed environment.  To improve performance when navigating (studies show that 39% of all page navigations are renavigations to pages visited less than 10 pages ago, usually using the back button), Firefox 1.5 implements a Back-Forward cache that retains the rendered document for the last five session history entries for each tab. This is a lot of data. If you have a lot of tabs, Firefox’s memory usage can climb dramatically. It’s a trade-off. What you get out of it is faster performance as you navigate the web.

The page also contains some practical tips for minimizing the impact of these features (and, believe it or not, none of them recommends installing IE7 instead ).

I don't know.  I remain a little skeptical because I've seen Firefox 2.0 spiral up to 190MB or so when minimized and only one tab loaded.  If this is a feature, then is sounds like it might be a little too aggressive.  I'll give these tips a go and see what effect they have, both on performance and stability, and I'll get back to you.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 1st, 2006 at 19:05 and is filed under PC Doctor's Thoughts, PC Doctor's Useful Links. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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