07 February 2011

Moving to 64-bit Firefox on Windows 7 x64

Recently, I've noticed that I have a lot of tabs open in Firefox and taking up 700MB or more of memory. Things slow down. What to do? The PC has Win 7 x64 with 8GB of RAM. It might be time to move to the 64-bit version of Firefox and take advantage of the extra legroom on this system.

The problem is how to move the profile from my 32-bit version to the 64-bit "Minefield" beta edition of Firefox 4. The solution? Use the new Sync feature in FF 4, which allows you to store your bookmarks, etc., to a Firefox server, then load the information into another copy of Firefox.

If you open your old 3.6.13 version of Firefox, it, too, will pop up a box to ask if you want to sync things up. Then you can have this be your base version, which holds all your profile. Then when you open the beta 4.0 32-bit, it can pull in the data. And the 64-bit one can also pull the information, too. I'm new to it and haven't yet figured out how the form usernames/passwords are pulled in; the experts say we need to use the 32-bit edition awhile for the sync to pick up all the data.

Either way, this is a fantastic new addition to Firefox. It makes moving profiles so easy. Just ensure that you save your Firefox Sync Key somewhere that you can find it; all other browser versions will require that key to connect.

Some final thoughts: The 32-bit version of the Flash player won't work in the 64-bit version of Firefox; you'll need to download the preview version of Adobe's 64-bit player. In addition, some add-ons won't load via Firefox; you'll have to download the XPI then run them. Firebug loads fine using this technique.

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