Firefox vs. Internet Explorer


When it comes to speed at moving in our https sites, and this may be more a (satellite) thing, but there is a difference between the two. Last night I showed my wife an example. I opened up Firefox and then I opened up IE 7. Both are set to blank page. I started the process of comming to the main panel page of the Dreamhost configuration in IE7 first then jumed over to Firefox and did the same thing. Went back and looked at IE7 still looking at loading. (after both got past the username/password page) Looked at Firefox and the panel was all there and fully loaded.

Kept looking at IE7 for the page to be there… first a little top header and then some side info… … THEN finally it loaded. It would be in the neighborhood of 15X faster or MORE to use Firefox on https (secure) sites than IE7.

Now this may be just with our particular satellite situation, and there may be others in here with satellite, but if ANYONE has been frustrated at the pages loading in the panel, email, managers, and those other https pages, you might try Firefox. I have no idea what the difference is, but for speed it is significantly faster.

Now for discussions and remarks. S

Vern didgeridoo info and more


There was an earlier discussion on this forum regarding FireFox vs Opera.

This google search offers suggestions to speed up Explorer. But that just starts a speed race.

Here is a site describing FireFox performance tweaks.

Of course, YMMV. Some of these tweaks break RFC guidelines, or may interfere with your local network connections.



Thanks Rudy!
The thing I notice is how fast webpages load on the secure sites using FireFox. And, like I was stating earlier, it may be a localized thing with satellite system. I know over at the Broadband forums I’ve read something about FireFox being a faster browser for sercure site than IE7. I’m not sure why it would make a difference, but when you can load 5 pages in a row in FireFox while you wait for IE to load the first page, it means (to me anyway) that if I have bills to pay online or I want to do something in a sercure site, like the control panel of my webhost servers, then FireFox is the best choice.

Vern didgeridoo info and more


I’m pretty sure that one of the (many) reasons why I switched to Firefox years ago was because it was much faster at loading web pages. :slight_smile:

I think Opera could be faster than Firefox and can handle huge pages more gracefully, but for me, the trade-off is in functionality. I love my Firefox extensions.



I beleive one of the reasons (guessing) is that Firefox is a fairly small program. Whereas IE is integrated into XP. I find that the windows version of Safari is even slower. I beleive that has to do more of not using a cache, or atleast none for flash files.

My website


While slightly off topic, I prefer to use FireFox for almost all browsing, and switch to IE only a site does not seem to “function properly”. I mention this as this has limited my use of “Exploder”.

Also, setting up a secure connection requires a significant number of software handshakes for key exchanges, etc., which makes SSL somewhat sensitive to network latency. Nice to consider, but this does not address your observation either… Both browsers go through the same pipe. Still, a traceroute to an encrypted and a non-encrypted site may be interesting. I think the first hop might be a big one.

Hmmm, what about caching? If you clear the cache (and cookies) on both browsers, do you get the same performance disparity on a “first” visit to each site? If so, does a “second” visit now work faster on FF? Combined with high latency on your connection, this might explain what you are seeing.

By default, IE7 does not cache encrypted data. If FF does cache by default – and I don’t know if it does – this could be part of what you are seeing.

Another thought… Are you using any “web accelerator” software? I have seen anecdotal reports this can impact SSL performance.



One of the differences is the adherence to internet standards, opera and firefox (v3 is better than the current v2.5) are the most compliant in the acid test but IE isn’t even close to them.

The test can be found at, if you see a smiley face your browser passes.

Alternatively on the right of this post Are images from different browsers. Internet explorer pretty much fails the test.

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Hi Rudy,
I don’t use any “web accelerator” software either in FireFox or IE 7.

I’m not sure about the cache in FireFox myself.

All things equal, the fact of the satellite bounce to NOC (Network Operation Center) and then to the interernet gives it just a slight pause. But that pause should work on both browsers. It wold be intersting to see if others that have both FireFox and IE 7 can grab the main page of the control panel at dreamhost in the same amout of time. Good test would be cable internet or wireless internet. DSL might be so fast that measuring the differences would be narrowed considerably.

Vern didgeridoo info and more


If you would like to make the DreamHost panel load even faster go to and select the ‘Use non-secure HTTP for images and javascript on the panel (faster)’ option. This makes firefox store the images and javascript to the disk cache so that you do not need to redownload them every time you restart your browser or when the relatively small memory cache fills up. You might try clearing and/or adjusting your memroy caches to be similar in firefox and ie before doing your tests. If you set the insecure images button you will get a broken lock icon in firefox, but without loss os security. Some other browsers may give you a dialog warning.


Had to poke around a little, and found this:

In IE:

  • Tools menu --> Internet Options

  • Advanced tab.

  • Scroll down Security

  • Uncheck “Do not save encrypted pages to disk”

  • Click OK

  • Restart Browser

  • Download your slow site twice

Is it faster the second time?



In FireFox:

A value of false means the behaviour is the same as the IE default (Don’t cache encrypted content)
A value of true permits caching of encrypted content.

Something to check, and also something to be aware of next time you are using a public system.



Sorry Michael, there is some loss of security with this, just as there is with the configurations I outlined above.

With my changes, the local disk may contain a copy of encrypted information. The question in this case is: Can the local machine be trusted?

If any information from a site is transferred without SSL/TLS protections, I need to trust the entire network path. The possibility of a man-in-the-middle attack means that without authenticating each file transferred in a session, I am no longer as certain as I was the information (i.e. javascript) downloaded by my browser is the same item originating from the server.

While some information needs encryption, and some doesn’t, authenticating all transfers in a session is still a requirement for a secure connection.



Turning on disk cache for all ssl does save potentially privileged information onto your computer. Saving javascript or images on disk which do not contain privileged information does not decrease security.

You are right that someone could possibly serve you different javascript/images if they controlled a network point between you and the server. So you present a good caveat about decreased security. Just sniffing the unencrypted information as it went by would not give them any information specific to your account though.

Since you are caching the javascript and images, your browser will be getting them from cache most of the time. If you use the panel from public places and have that option set your risk would much higher. So yeah, you should consider how you use the panel and balance the risk vs. the speed benefit. The best solution would be if a higher level javascript api was built into browsers so that websites would not need to have the user download large javascript libraries all the time.

Perhaps we should consider using a proxy service like to speed up the file downloads without using http.


I admit that when it comes to security, I am somewhat on the paranoid side of the fence. The risks are somewhat more subtle than sniffing unencrypted content.

Also, if I can’t trust my computer with cached sensitive information, I should not use it to access such information in the first place (hardware firewall for the LAN, software firewall for the browser system, anti-virus, anti-spyware, non-privileged account, plus a few other things).

Please see this msdn discussion, the author explains the risks better than I can right now).

Also, I am 3 tequilas to the wind right now, so I will go away until tomorrow. :s :wink: And, I do like DH as a host.



Wow… thanks for the link. Very helpful to me :slight_smile:

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