Many of us love Firefox, no doubt. After all, it is one with the most number of features. It is just as easy to use as Chrome or Safari and runs on all platforms. But if you notice the trend, the number of users for Firefox has been declining. Why?
One of the most common reasons we hear is Speed! Yes, speed is important. The speed at which it starts, the speed at which it launches a new tab and so on. Though Firefox is a brilliant browser in itself, we notice that it performs slower than Chrome or Edge on Windows. We noticed that Firefox took more than double the time to launch on Windows 10, when compared to Chrome. Even after the launch, it worked fairly slow compared to Chrome.
How to increase the speed of Firefox on Windows?
Most people these days use 64-bit version of Firefox. However, for compatibility reasons Mozilla still makes its users download the 32 bit version. If you just went to the Firefox’s website and clicked download and proceeded like that, there is a good chance that you are running a 32 bit version of Firefox. 32-bit version of Firefox tends to run slow (more on that in some time, below). Install the 64-bit version of Firefox and it will start running faster.
To install the 64-bit version, go to https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/ and click on Download Firefox for another Platform. You will get a modal where you can select the 64-bit version for download.
How to detect if you are using 32-bit or 64 bit version of Firefox?
To detect if you are running 32 bit or 64 bit version of Firefox, launch the task manager. Look for Firefox in the processes tab. If it says (32 bit) then you are running a 32 bit version. Otherwise you are already using the 64-bit version of Firefox.
Once you have downloaded and installed the 64 bit version of Firefox, you should see the name as just Firefox (without 32 bit written against it).
Why do 32-bit apps run slow on 64-bit Windows?
A 64-bit OS means that it is supposed to run 64-bit programs (programs compiled to work with 64-bit processors). However, there are a lot of older programs which were built in the 32-bit days. It is not possible for every developer to recompile their program within the expected time-period. There might also be programs which are now classified as “legacy” and have not been updated since quite some time but are being used by people.
For such cases, Microsoft has built a system called WoW (Windows on Windows). WoW means you can run Windows 32-bit programs on 64-bit Windows. Whenever you launch a 32-bit program on a 64-bit installation, Windows brings in its WoW system which translates the 32-bit system calls from the program to their 64-bit counterparts which can then be serviced by the OS.
This translation takes a little bit of time. If you are doing a lot of 32-bit calls, the process will slow down. This is why 32-bit apps can start to feel slow on 64-bit Windows.