We previously wrote about a method of speeding up Firefox (Speed Up Firefox with a Single Click) by optimizing your profiles. We have now found a free tool called Firefox Preloader that speeds up Firefox by preloading some Firefox components so that when you click the browser icon to actually launch the program, it takes just a second or two to begin your browsing session.
However, this faster load time comes at a cost. Firefox Preloader eats a few MB of memory, and you’ll find that the Firefox executable (Firefox.exe) is also eating up to 30MB of memory even when you’re not running it. But if you spend most of your day surfing the web using Firefox, it might be worth the extra memory usage.
Download Firefox Preloader from http://sourceforge.net/projects/ffpreloader/.
To install Firefox Preloader, run the .exe file you downloaded. The Welcome screen displays.
The License Agreement displays. Select the I accept the agreement radio button and click Next to continue.
You can choose to change the location in which the Preloader is installed, but you are presented with a default location. We decided to keep the default. Click Next to continue.
There are three options for selecting which components to install. We selected to do a full installation. Select an option and click Next to continue.
If you want to change the name of the folder on the Start menu in which the program’s shortcuts will be placed, enter a new name in the edit box or use the Browse button to select a folder. Click Next to continue.
If you want Firefox Preloader to start every time Windows starts, select the Launch Firefox Preloader at Windows Startup check box. Click Next to continue.
A summary of your settings displays. To change any settings, click the Back button until you get to the screen containing the setting you want to change. Otherwise, to start the installation, click Install.
If you want to view the readme file after finishing the installation, select the View ReadMe.txt check box. Select the Launch Firefox Preloader check box so the program automatically starts when the installation is finished. Click Finish.
When you load (run) Firefox Preloader, a Firefox icon displays in the system tray and loads a portion of Firefox into memory to cut down the startup time of Firefox. As you use Firefox, the remaining portions of the program are loaded into memory. When you close all of your Firefox windows, Firefox still remains in memory, making the next loading of start Firefox faster.
Right-click the icon to bring up a menu of actions to control Firefox and the Preloader. Double-click the icon to open a new Firefox window to your currently set home page(s). Select Preloader Options from the pop-up menu to change options for the Preloader.
The Firefox Preloader Options dialog box displays. If you are using a locally installed version of Firefox that you have installed to the default location, you can leave the Automatically find Firefox check box checked. If you are using a portable version of Firefox that you are running from a non-standard location or have installed a local version to a non-default location., uncheck the Automatically find Firefox check box and click the Browse button to select the location of Firefox.
You can also select to be warned if any action you perform using the Preloader will unload Firefox, and therefore close any open Firefox windows. To do this, select the Warn me if my action will unload Mozilla Firefox check box.
If you close any Firefox window you have open using the Exit command under the File menu, Firefox is unloaded and the memory it was using is freed. The Preloader then reloads Firefox automatically, making it available for later use.
You can also right-click on the Firefox icon in the system tray and select Reload Firefox to close any open Firefox windows and reload Firefox. Firefox is not reopened automatically. Double-click the Preloader’s Firefox icon to open a new Firefox window.
NOTE: You receive a warning that all your Firefox windows will be closed so Firefox can be reloaded. If you do not want to close your Firefox window(s) yet, click No. Otherwise, click Yes and the Preloader will reload.
Reloading Firefox is useful if you are installing themes or extensions. Since the Preloader keeps Firefox loaded, even when no Firefox windows are open, installing or removing themes and extensions may not take affect as expected.
Firefox must be restarted to remove or install a theme or extension. Therefore, if the Preloader is running, you must terminate Firefox either by selecting Exit from the File menu in any open Firefox window or selecting the Reload Firefox option from the Preloader’s tray icon pop-up menu.
Use the Unload Firefox option on the menu to unload Firefox and deactivate the Preloader, freeing memory for other applications. Use the Reload Firefox option to reactivate the Preloader and load Firefox into memory again.
NOTE: You receive a warning that all your Firefox windows will be closed so Firefox can be unloaded. If you do not want to close your Firefox window(s) yet, click No. Otherwise, click Yes and the Preloader will unload.
You can also access Firefox’s Internet Options using the Preloader without opening Firefox. Select Internet Options from the Preloader’s menu.
The Options dialog box displays. Change any settings you want to change and click OK, or click Cancel to close the dialog box without making any changes.
To close the Preloader, select Unload Firefox Preloader from the Preloader’s menu. This unloads the Preloader and closes any instances of Firefox loaded by the Preloader.
If you can spare the little bit of extra memory that the Preloader uses and that Firefox uses when loaded using the Preloader, Firefox Preloader is a useful tool. Loading Firefox using the Preloader was not instantaneous, but it was faster than usual. If you have a lot of tabs open, it still takes a while for all the non-active tabs to load, but the active tab loads faster.
by Lori Kaufman