Slow Firefox Downloads Fixed

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Wed, 01 Mar 2006 09:41:15 GMT  <== Computers ==> 

I had been getting very annoyed with my Firefox. Every time I downloaded a file, it took 30 seconds or so for the "Downloads" window to come up, during which time Firefox was unresponsive to keyboard and mouse inputs. I discovered the solution a couple of days ago, and I'm blogging it so that others may find it if they do a search.

The problem was that the file that stores the download history had gotten very big, and Firefox was pausing to parse that file into the display in the "Downloads" window. All I needed to do to fix it was to press the "Clean Up" button at the bottom of the "Downloads" window (available on the "Tools" menu).

There's an alternative. In Edit/Preferences..., on the "Download History" tab of the "Privacy" panel, there's a combo-box to select when to "Remove files from the Download Manager". It defaults to "Manually", which is what I like, but you can also select "Upon successful download" or "When Firefox exits".

This is in Firefox 1.5 on Linux. It might work differently in other versions or operating systems.

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Comments (37):

Many thanks, this solved the

Submitted by BRO on Sun, 19 Mar 2006 13:41:48 GMT

Many thanks, this solved the problem completely.
Firefox 1.5 on XP here.

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Thanks a million

Submitted by Steve on Tue, 21 Mar 2006 04:15:02 GMT

I hate your personal politics (except your support for Denmark), but I love you for posting this. I'm a computer "expert", but I had no idea why Firefox kept locking up like that. Thanks for taking the time to suggest this fix, because it's going to prevent many a headache in the future.


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Many thanks, this has been

Submitted by Matty Moo on Thu, 23 Mar 2006 01:06:15 GMT

Many thanks, this has been driving me potty for months.

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Thanks for pointing out the

Submitted by Rob on Sat, 03 Mar 2007 10:46:32 GMT

Thanks for pointing out the obvious fix. So obvious I could see it under my own nose! :-)

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This fixed it for me! THANKS

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 12 Mar 2007 13:46:27 GMT

This fixed it for me! THANKS

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If the "Clean Up" button hangs....

Submitted by Greyhairedweenie on Fri, 16 Mar 2007 00:45:27 GMT

If the download history is way too large, or corrupted, the Download Manager itself or the "Clean Up" button may hang on Linux machines.

You can just blow its contents away from a terminal session:
cd ~/.mozilla/firefox/*default

Thanks for the tip, though, this post led me to figure that out.

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Also on Mac

Submitted by Jelle on Thu, 12 Apr 2007 09:16:43 GMT

Works on my Mac too! OSX, Firefox 2.0, I was so annoyed and now I'm happy again.

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Firefox on Vista and this tip still applies!

Submitted by MIke on Fri, 13 Apr 2007 02:59:30 GMT

It was driving me crazy. Thanks for the fix!

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Huge bug in FF

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 21 Apr 2007 16:38:58 GMT

This seems like a huge bug. Even if the history file is a several meg, it shouldn't take tens of seconds to parse, and that's the delay I'm accustomed to. I had figured out that the problem was the download window, which I never used, so I just turned it off. Then, one day I needed it and it took 20 seconds or more to open.


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Thank you!!!!

Submitted by Richard on Tue, 08 May 2007 20:45:23 GMT

Man, I was just about to move back to IE this thing was so bad. Made my beloved GMail almost useless. I'm in heaven again with Firefox and Gmail.

I have to ask:
1. Why does Firefox allow the damned list to get so long that it creates this problem BY DEFAULT. I mean limit it to the last 100 files downloaded or 25 or SOMETHING.

2. Why the heck did I not ever see the clean up button?

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Another place delays like this can manifest:

Submitted by Silver Knight on Sun, 20 May 2007 18:05:30 GMT

If you have a bookmark folder which is a general drop-box for incoming stuff, it can eventually cause delays also if it gets too full/huge. Remember to organize your bookmarks as they come in and keep your general "Bookmarks" folder as free of clutter as possible to avoid this issue.

Generally, it's probably just maybe a good idea to develop a habit of cleaning up various bits of your browser on a regular schedule to keep it running in top-form at all times. Download history, Browsing history, examine your cache once in a while with about:cache (in the address bar) and clear it if it needs it; all basic maintenance for most, if not all web browsers.

Also, it can help to disable or even uninstall any and all extensions you don't ever use. This also frees up resources for you to install extensions you WILL use. Check out Mozilla's extension page in the "Tools > Add-ons" menu. There's a billion useful goodies there. I HIGHLY recommend Adblock Plus and Noscript as the first two to add to ANY Mozilla. Instant safer and faster browsing.


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firefox download lockup

Submitted by demigod on Mon, 25 Jun 2007 11:17:42 GMT

BIG BIG BIG THX man, it solved me lots of annoyance ;)

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Thank you! Thank you! Thank

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 18 Jul 2007 03:05:14 GMT

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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You ROCK!!!

Submitted by Trina on Thu, 02 Aug 2007 13:12:21 GMT

YAYYYYYY!!!!! This fixed my problem too!!!! I can't possibly thank you enough, this made my whole summer. I was very close to giving up on firefox.



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Slow Downloads in Firefox

Submitted by Ankhorite on Tue, 07 Aug 2007 18:05:09 GMT

Thank you ever so much for blogging this where Google could find it.

I was losing my mind and gnashing my teeth. BOOM! Fixed! Yay!

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i wanted to kill myselft

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 02 Sep 2007 22:26:26 GMT

i wanted to kill myselft after having this problem for monthes! but such a simple solution for such a headache.

big ideas are always very simple. beauty is simple as well...

oh thanks

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Submitted by Steve on Wed, 19 Sep 2007 15:03:32 GMT

Again and again.

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Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 25 Sep 2007 00:00:29 GMT

It works under Windoze with Firefox 2.0.x as well.

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Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 22 Oct 2007 00:29:17 GMT

Damn This was the best tip I have had all month. I was using Flash Got and alternate download managers because firefox would take forever to download anything. Excellent tip. Works in 2.008 firefox as well

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Thanks for the tip!

Submitted by avatar-ds on Mon, 22 Oct 2007 20:46:05 GMT

This is a wonderful little tip! Download processing in FFX was driving me nuts lately.

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Love you politics

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 29 Oct 2007 21:09:59 GMT

And that's a great tip btw. How'd you figure it out?

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Thanks many

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 02 Nov 2007 17:18:04 GMT

Thanks many others, this was driving me mad!

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thank you - this was making

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 24 Nov 2007 02:55:59 GMT

thank you - this was making me "wince" with every download

"Problem Fixed" !!

( very good of you to let the rest of us in on this :) )

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Thanks :-)

Submitted by Chantal on Sun, 27 Jan 2008 09:56:24 GMT

Thanks for sharing! Who knew the solution would be so simple :-)

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BIG tnx from Down Under... using in XP

Submitted by ozzieboy on Thu, 31 Jan 2008 05:38:35 GMT

wadda bewdy .. gudonyamate for posting this ... you have restored my enjoyment for the use of FFox... I had switched back to using IE for dloads [which i really did not want to do }

go get yourself a contract with FFox ... you deserve it ;)

gudonyam8tnxalotavaguday ...

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Firefox downloads

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 31 Jan 2008 18:43:34 GMT

Thanks for the tip. I've cleared before in the past and never linked it to slow downloads.

As a note, every time I tried to clear it, both ways the browser always hung. I had to physically delete the download files in Application Data to get it to work.

And Firefox now works wonders!

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Works great

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 27 Feb 2008 06:59:09 GMT

Nothing seemed to work. I finally found your site. Eureka! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!

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Your generosity

Submitted by Alex Babcock on Wed, 05 Mar 2008 18:06:40 GMT

Thanks for taking the time to write about this matter. I'm quite pleased to see the solution is so simple. I had gone to using Safari when needing to download something for how intolerably slow it had gotten. I would never have thought such a simple function of the browser could be the culprit.
You have my gratitude.
Now if only one of the developers will take note and see to it no one else has to suffer...

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Great...searched for ages

Submitted by caduser on Fri, 14 Mar 2008 00:38:08 GMT

Finding the right search phrase finally got me here and that annoyance can be over. File was only 800kb's but boy was it running slow. Thanks again.

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Woah.. the Firefox folks

Submitted by Seth on Fri, 14 Mar 2008 19:24:14 GMT

Woah.. the Firefox folks should really look into keeping this from happening by default. Many people are probably switching browsers over this.

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Still works in

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 24 Mar 2008 01:52:41 GMT

I've been irritated as hell at this issue for about a week. First site I clicked on when google'ing was this one, and the solution works perfect after more than 2 years. Good Catch Bill!

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Still works in

Submitted by Alan on Tue, 08 Apr 2008 09:24:05 GMT

Another thank you for solving a problem that has been bugging me for months (if not years!) At last I can give IE the boot! (and I love your politics!)


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downloads cleanup

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 22 Jun 2008 13:52:11 GMT

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
This was driving me crazy!

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Submitted by Martin on Tue, 01 Jul 2008 07:03:28 GMT


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Thanks for the info.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 21 Sep 2008 17:05:35 GMT

Thanks for the info.

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Thanks for writing about

Submitted by ryan on Tue, 05 Jan 2010 21:07:09 GMT

Thanks for writing about this, found you via google. Wasn't just the download window taking a long time to appear but downloads were very slow as well, plus the entire browser became unresponsive. I'd mostly given up and had been using IE for downloads. Clearing the download history fixed it immediately.

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Submitted by Anonymous2 on Sun, 24 Jan 2010 23:46:02 GMT

I've started using Firefox 3.6 for the first time (after using Internet Explorer 6-7 for a decade), and while I like it Alot,
the downloads do seem to be slower.

I do not have any actual evidence, just personal experience and observation.

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