Learn How To Speed Up Page Loading in Firefox

If your like me then your time is important so any boost in page loading can net you major time-saving and recently I switched back to Firefox from Chromium and one of the reasons I had left Firefox was I felt that Chromium had superior page loading performance (Notably they enable HTTP Pipelining by default).

In reality I think Firefox can do nearly as well if not on par with Chromium but just to make sure you are getting the best performance out of your browser I suggest doing the following.


Enable HTTP Pipelining

HTTP Pipelining in a nutshell is a feature that was introduced into the HTTP/1.1 protocol and for a long time browsers were cautious to enable the feature by default. The feature “pipelining” essentially allows your browser to have multiple requests (HTTP GET, POST, HEAD etc) all in a single TCP transmission without waiting for responses from the destination server. This reduces congestion and while at the same time improves page loading performance because data is transmitted in a better fashion.

Anyways, Opera and Google Chrome support it fully and Mozilla’s Firefox disables it by default even though Mozilla’s new Firefox OS enables it by default. There has been plenty of evidence to suggest major performance benefits from pipelining and although some servers may not handle pipelining well I have not run into one yet and I do a lot of browsing and always have pipelining enabled.

So to enable pipelining on Firefox you will need to do the following:

1. In a browser window go to “about:config” see picture below

Firefox: about:config
Click to Enlarge

2. Double-Click network.http.pipelining until the value is “true” and pipelining will be enabled

As a quick note you can leave aggressive to false to be cautious but I have found that this “safety” mechanism is really not necessary since again I have yet to see any web servers react negatively to HTTP pipelining. I leave my max.optimistic.requests at 8 and set my maxrequests to 32 which I feel gives me the best performance.

Stay tuned for my next Firefox Performance Tip and feel free to comment below and also note these instructions were written using Firefox 16.0.2 on Ubuntu 12.10 but they should be pretty universal regardless of platform and version.

Note: If you forever run into issues toggling off the http pipelining feature is as simple as enabling but the real world data shows that http pipelining has benefits that outweigh not using it and mind you http pipelining is not a new experimental technology but is instead a tested standard thats been around for years. Better yet after posting this I did some benchmarking and here are the results which show HTTP Pipelining does create a performance benefit.

How HTTP Pipelining Works
How HTTP Pipelining Works


  1. says

    Ugh. Please stop reposting bogus “performance tips”. It’s a great way to break things, and unless you’ve actually done the hard work for gathering data on their actual effect you’re really not helping. (Hint: there are a lot of people working on performance at Mozilla, and if it was as as simple as flipping a couple of prefs we’d have done that long ago.)

  2. iwod says

    I am sorry but does that even make any sense?

    “one of the reasons I had left Chromium was I felt that Chromium had superior page loading performance”

  3. Jo-Erlend Schinstad says

    Wow. The effect was immediate and _extremely_ noticable on my network. Thanks a lot! This was tip of the year in my book.