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I have several laptops so I use a USB key version of Firefox to keep my environment as I move around. I followed the suggestions offered on the Firefox web site (turn off the cache and history etc.) and its better but still much slower than the normal version.

Other than buying a new, super fast flux-capacitor based USB key, what other tips and tricks can I use?

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There can be tricks to make it faster than it is, but in the end it will always be slower in a way than a desktop installation of Firefox, be aware of that. –  Gnoupi Aug 28 '09 at 11:00
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6 Answers 6

up vote 1 down vote accepted
  • Limit your history size
  • Disable session store
  • Disable downloads history
  • Like Dynamic I said, vacuum your Places databases once a month
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Universal Firefox on a USB Key may be something to follow for a while.

Meanwhile the next release is being worked on.

Performance (Namoroka firefox 3.6; currently at a1)
Observable improvements in user-perceptible performance metrics such as startup, time to open a new tab, and responsiveness when interacting with the user interface. Common user tasks should feel faster and more responsive.

You seem to have already looked at Improving Firefox Portable's Performance.

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Unfortunately since USB 2 tops out at 480Mbps then even the fastest USB drive will not make firefox as quick as running from a hard drive. You can make it faster than it is but not fast. Would it help if you ran firefox from your hard drive and just had your profile folder on the USB key?

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On a laptop, 480Mbps is fast. My external WD USB hard drive is faster than the internal drive. The problem seems to come from that fact that flash drives cannot read and write at the same time and writing takes 10x as long as reading. –  Michaelkay Aug 28 '09 at 12:20
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Here are some tips from LifeHacker.com:

  • Vacuum your fragmented databases. You can do this with the Vacuum Places Improved Add-on. You can set it to automatically defrag.

    • 1.Type "about:config" into the address bar and hit return. Scroll down and look for the following entries:

      network.http.pipelining network.http.proxy.pipelining network.http.pipelining.maxrequests

      Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading.

      1. Alter the entries as follows: Set "network.http.pipelining" to "true" Set "network.http.proxy.pipelining" to "true" Set "network.http.pipelining.maxrequests" to some number like 30. This means it will make 30 requests at once.
      1. Lastly right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it "nglayout.initialpaint.delay" and set its value to "0". This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it recieves.
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Vacuuming: yes! There is an addon, but there is also a short bit of code you can paste into the error console (search Lifehacker for it, posted just a week or so ago.) I've heard that pipelining is maybe not the way to go- can mess things up for others or something. Well, it might help but is not a silver bullet. More research needed! –  outsideblasts Sep 4 '09 at 9:33
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This extension is great:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/11922

I've been using it for a few days and have reduced from average 150MB to 60MB. Of course, its an addon and has its own footprint. I'd be interested to hear if it's useful with portable FF.

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Flash drives do vary a lot. I have a Patriot XT, which tests as one of the faster drives, and I've used cheap ones, and those are PAINFULL!. I live of one at work, drive speed matters a bunch. And a 4GB Patriot XT is under $20.

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