Every time I have previously written about Firefox 2 and the huge amount of RAM that it consumed, I got all kinds of criticism not only from readers, but also from the folks at Mozilla. So when I started testing Firefox 3 betas and noticed little difference in the amount of memory usage, I again wrote about it and again received comments that basically indicated that I was nuts.

Well this NUT has remained silent every since I installed the final release of Firefox 3. I haven’t even mentioned that on my personal system Firefox 3 is still consuming large amounts of RAM. This morning it sat at 153MB, since I didn’t want to be labeled as anti-Firefox, I haven’t said a word. That was until I read this InformationWeek article which stated:

Memory Problems

We talked a bit about Firefox 3’s memory usage. Mozilla.org asserts that the memory-leak problems that plagued Firefox 2 are solved, but I’ve noticed if I leave Firefox 3 running overnight with many tabs open, I often come in in the morning to find it using 120+ MBytes of memory or more, and find it slow and unresponsive. “Norm,” quoted above criticizing the AwesomeBar, says Firefox 3 is actually more of a memory hog than Firefox 2: “FF3 constantly consumes 20%-40% of the CPU when nothing is going on. FF2 displaying the exact same pages consumes 5%-15%.”

Sougent Harrop listed problems he’s having with Firefox 3 in a series of Twitter posts: “I’m seeing 95%+ CPU usage, this last time when I did an Image Save As, had to kill it in process explorer. Other times, it just happens even when I’m not even doing anything in FF, like when in [Second Life], though usually it’s responsive then. Massive CPU usage, even if it might be an add-in, isn’t something that should persist until the entire browser is closed.” Harrop’s posts are here: 1, 2, 3.

But Dotzler stands by Mozilla.org’s claims that Firefox 3 is lean and mean. He said that Mozilla.org’s own tests, and independent third-party measurements show that Firefox 3 uses less memory when viewing the same pages asMicrosoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.

Why does Firefox use up so much resources so much of the time, then? He says it’s the changing nature of the Web. “The Web isn’t the same thing as it was five or ten years ago, it’s not the same thing as it was two years ago,” Dotzler said. Users routinely run the equivalent of Microsoft Outlook, Excel, AIM, cable television and Photoshop inside the browser, in the form of Web applications for e-mail, office suites, instant messaging, Internet video, and image editing apps. Those kinds of applications require computing resources whether you run them inside the browser or as standalone apps. The memory problems of Firefox 2 got people looking at the memory usage of their browsers, and now they’re looking at the memory usage of Firefox 3 and thinking it’s too high, when in fact it’s just the amount of memory needed to do what needs doing.

“We should compare apples to apples, compare today’s browsers running on today’s Web, and in that test, for all the tests I’ve seen, Firefox is well ahead,” Dotzler said.

I have been using an add-on called RamBack which usually frees up between 15MB to 30MB at a crack. When things get to outlandish I close down Firefox and reopen it and start again. This is a small price to pay for using what I consider to be the best browser out there.

OK. Go ahead and slam my opinion. But this is also the opinion of others as well who are loyal Firefox fans. 🙂

Comments welcome.