Firefox 3: portable version slowdown

Published June 27th, 2008

I’ve been using Firefox 3 for several months now (through various betas and release candidates) and I have to say I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve resisted blogging about it because I think more than enough words have already been written on the subject, but I’ll just say that I’ve been very happy with its improved speed and stability over FF2.

However I do have one caveat to add. I use the portable version (running from a USB key) and found, after some weeks of use, that it was becoming increasingly sluggish. I put up with it for a while but was getting quite frustrated when, one day, I got an error when shutting down the browser. I don’t remember the specifics, but it mentioned a file in my profile directory called urlclassifier3.sqlite.

Out of curiosity I looked at the file and found that it was over well over 70MB in size. This made me even more curious, so I did some searching and found various references to it and its potentially detrimental effect on Firefox’s performance. So I renamed it, restarted Firefox and — presto! — the browser was back to its former, sprightly self.

Some further digging revealed that this is a cache file for data about phishing and malware sites, and can be disabled by unchecking the “Tell me if the site I’m visiting is a suspected attack site” and “Tell me if the site I’m visiting is a suspected forgery” options in Tools > Options > Security. Of course, you do so at your own risk — you could alternatively leave theese options enabled and just delete the file once in a while, when it gets really big and FF starts to slow down.

OK, two caveats: I’m definitely in the ‘I hate the AwesomeBar‘ camp — I’m a
creature of habit and the old-style auto-complete worked just fine for
me. Bah.

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