Mozilla to Get a Grip on Memory Leak Issues in Firefox 7

If you've ever yelled at your PC, "Holy system resources, Batman! Firefox is chewing through all my memory!," then you may have bigger issues than browser memory leaks (don't worry, we have issues too...). But you're also not alone. Firefox's frustrating tendency to continually grab more memory until you're forced to shut it down and restart has plagued the browser for several generations. Some never see it, many do, and it isn't always because of third-party extensions. Ready for some good news? Mozilla is touting Firefox 7 as being much more lean than Firefox 6.

"Firefox 7 uses less memory than Firefox 6 (and 5 and 4): often 20 percent to 30 percent less, and sometimes as much as 50 percent less," Mozilla's Nicholas Nethercote stated in a blog post. "In particular, Firefox 7's memory usage will stay steady if you leave it running overnight, and it will free up more memory when you close many tabs."

This isn't at all relevant to Firefox 7, we just thought it was punny.

The end result, according to Nethercote, is you can expect Firefox to run faster and leaner, and it will be less likely to crash even when you have a bunch of websites open at once or leave it running for extended periods. Should we believe it?

That's up to you, but it's nice to see Mozilla being so open about Firefox's memory leak issue. Rather than make excuses, Nethercote acknowledges that "Firefox has a reputation for being a memory hog," noting that it was particularly bad in Firefox 2. And while things improved in Firefox 3/3.5/3.6, Nethercote admits "Firefox 4 regressed again" in part because of all the new features that were shoveled in, as well as "over-aggressive tuning of heuristics relating to JavaScript garbage collection and image decoding."

Seeing Mozilla own up Firefox's past faults is an encouraging sign and leaves us hopeful that Firefox 7 will live up to the hype.