I’m a big fan of Firefox, and it’s been my main web browser for as long as I can remember. Partly because it’s pretty good with web standards, and partly because of its huge range of plugins – in particular a plugin called Adblock Plus which stops most banner and Google adverts from showing in web pages (yay!). In fact Adblock Plus is the main reason why I haven’t switched to Google Chrome (which is otherwise a lovely browser).

However, after a while, especially if you have a lot of plugins, Firefox slows down. It gets slower to launch, slower to open tabs, everything seems to get a bit tired.

The remedy is a full, clean reinstall. However, you needn’t lose your bookmarks, plugins, etc.

This is what I did today (this is on a WinXP PC):

1. Made a note of what plugins I had installed.
2. Downloaded the latest versions of them (the XPI files) to my desktop.
3. Did a backup from the bookmark manager and saved the file to my desktop.
4. Did a export HTML from the bookmark manager (just in case no.3 didn’t work – I’m paranoid with software).
5. Zipped my Firefox profile and moved the zip file to my desktop (failsafe).
6. Deleted the Firefox folder from Docs & Settings.
7. Uninstalled Firefox from Control Panel.
8. Ran a registry cleaner and removed all Firefox entries.
9. Downloaded the latest Firefox (using Opera because I forgot to do it earlier and of course I couldn’t use Firefox!).
10. Installed it.
11. Restored my bookmarks (using the HTML export from No. 4 – it was a good job I did that because the Restore option didn’t work).
12. Tweaked settings to my liking (toolbars etc).
13. Reinstalled my plugins by dragging them from the desktop into the Firefox window.

That took about 15 minutes in all. And now Firefox launches in 1 second (was 4), restarts after a plugin install in 1 second (was 6), opens tabs instantly (was at least 2 seconds), etc etc. It feels like a new browser.

So, I would encourage all you Firefox users, especially if you use a lot of plugins, to do this every 3 to 4 months. It’s not a lot of time out of your day, and bloody hell it makes a difference.

Needless to say, if anyone follows the above advice and something goes wrong, I am not responsible ?

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