I’m a big fan of Firefox, and over time I tend to collect a rather large number of plugins. The problem is, despite all the great functionality they provide, you can get carried away and seriously impact browser performance. As well, not all plugins are created equal as far as performance goes, and not all play nicely together.

My long time friend and fellow Internet Software Developer, Steve Pothoven, has posted a test on his blog which measures your browser’s processing speed. It can be used in two important ways:

1) to address the issue I mentioned in the first paragraph and help you check from time to time how your browser is performing after you’ve added more plugins, and

2) to determine just how much Javascript you may want to place into a user’s browser. His blog post lists a sampling of various computers and browsers so you can see how much various combinations can handle.

As for adjusting your Firefox to improve performance, when I first ran the test on my laptop, I had a .08. I disabled all my plugins and jumped drastically to almost .20. I began re-enabling the plugins one by one, and in the end determined that all were acceptable except two: Firebug and Yslow (which requires Firebug). Those two plugins destroyed my browser performance. For now, I’ve turned them both off, and enjoy a healthy .15 rating. Note: leaving Firebug enabled as a plugin, but disabled within the Firebug’s preferences does NOT improve performance.
Visit Steve’s test page and see what your performance is and where you fall within the sample numbers. Try disabling any plugins you have and testing again to see the difference.

Tip: If you have a large number of plugins, it may be time consuming to disable them all, so start Firefox in safe mode, by doing Run -> CMD and then entering ‘firefox -safe-mode’