Ever since I’ve started using Firefox 3, I’ve been noticing that the ‘profile folder’ (where FF stores all the user’s personal info, extensions info etc) was steadily growing in size. Right from my initial usage of Firefox, I’ve not been using the default folder path for this profile but using the firefox -p startup option, create a Firefox_Profile folder at a different location so that the personalization could be carried over from version to version.
With Firefox 3, this profile folder started to bloat in size very often. Whilst with FF2 it was almost always nearabout 50 megs, with FF3 it grows to ~100 MB after a few hours of browsing. I looked into the individual files and bam! the culprit stood out to be a urlclassifier3.sqlite file which was topping out at 68 MB 😮 . Alarmed at this, I Googled around and found this Mozilla Knowledge Base article on the same.
The urlclassifier2.sqlite file contains information on known phishing sites that is used to warn you should you visit one. The information is downloaded by default from a Google database once a day. This functionality can be modified or turned off in “Tools → Options → Security
Firefox 3 contacts Google at each startup to get an updated list of known phishing websites and updates the same in the urlclassifier3.sqlite file. Agreed this is what makes our browser safe and secure but why is it bloating up in size? Are the phishing sites on the web increasing as fast as the size of this folder? Naah! Apparently, there’s a known bug in FF specific to this urlclassifier file which says that it has a lot of vacuum/blank space within and there ought to be a mechanism to automatically compress it effectively.Whatever might be the cause, its rapid size increase is somewhat disconcerting. Added to it is the fact that upon each startup, FF contacts the Google servers to get an updated list, which might be a drain on the CPU resources and in turn the notebook batteries (if you’re using one i.e.). There have been discussions about it over at the Mozillazine Forums in this thread and this thread and there seem to be a lot of people disconcerted by it.
The Solution? Well, the knowledge bas article suggested turning off the Phishing options in FF, which would mean unchecking of the following options under Tools>Options>Security:
Though that would mean compromising on the security aspect. But its alright of one isn’t too prone to making transactions over the web and visiting out-of-the-way websites. After unchecking the options, delete the urlclassifier3.sqlite file from the profile folder and it will never bother you again. A 0KB file may be created at the next firefox start but it won’t bloat in size as previously. I hope the bloating problem is fixed soon and we can have a very safe and secure browsing experience…minus the size increases etc. 🙂
[Disclaimer: Delete the urlclassifier3.sqlite file from your firefox profile at your own risk. Please do not hold me responsible for anything untoward that might happen to your browser when you do that!]