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Rich's EXTREME uninstallation/reinstallation process of Firefox

Recently I installed Firefox 4 beta 6 for research purposes. Prior to doing that I uninstalled Firefox 3.6. I backed up what I needed to, then whacked that browser.

My uninstallation is way more thorough than what most people do because uninstalling Firefox, put simply, does not uninstall it. FF leaves a ton of crap behind.

Here's how my EXTREME uninstallation goes:

  1. Uninstall Firefox via Add/Remove.
  2. Launch Windows Explorer. If Program Files\Mozilla Firefox exists (and it probably will,) delete it.
  3. Stay in Windows Explorer, go to address %appdata%. In XP there's a Mozilla folder that needs to be whacked. In Win7 there's AppData/Local/Mozilla and AppData/Roaming/Mozilla that needs to be whacked.
  4. Close everything, run CCleaner. Cleaner and Registry must be run in that order, one after the other, to get rid of the Firefox crap.
  5. Reboot so the Windows registry is reloaded. Logging out isn't enough. You gotta reboot.

There has never been any browser that uninstalls clean. Browsers have been polluting home computers ever since they came into existence. Unfortunately we have to deal with them because they are, y'know, required to browse the web.

The only way to properly uninstall a third-party browser from Windows is to follow the steps above. Doesn't matter which browser it is, save for IE because you can't uninstall that. If you're on Mac or Linux, it's more or less the same b.s. because third-party browsers will drop crap in user folders, hook into other stuff that you have to unhook (or at least try to,) and so on.

It is possible to use a browser in a way that doesn't fill your computer full of crap. You could use a browser portable-style, such as off a USB stick. Unfortunately, running a browser that way is slow as molasses because of the slow USB 2.0 transfer speeds, but if you're determined enough to run a browser clean, that's the way to do it.

Why Firefox runs like crap over time, and why EXTREME uninstall/reinstall fixes it

After I reinstalled 3.6 and the two add-ons I use for it (this and this,) FF runs smooth as silk and doesn't chew up a bunch of memory like it did before - but why it doesn't do that is the interesting part.

The reason Firefox turns into a slow lethargic mess over time is a two-step process. You install/uninstall add-ons and that leaves junk behind; that's the first part. The second part is the SQLite databases FF keeps. There is absolutely no way to clean these up when they get full of junk. And you can't just go arbitrarily deleting them either. Even if you use this to manage and 'smooth out' databases, you'll still get screwed eventually.

Yes, this does mean it's the small SQLite db's and lack of add-on junk that makes a fresh Firefox run like a champ, assuming you followed the uninstall steps above.

I call my uninstall/reinstall process EXTREME because it does take a good 15 minutes to finish it all - and that's before you reinstall the add-ons you use. I've done it several times over the years and at best I can shim it down to just over 5 minutes, as in uninstall, whack-a-folder, clean the reg, reboot, reinstall. I can get it done in so short a time because I'm used to the process.

If you decide to use my method however, don't be surprised if it takes you 20+ minutes the first time around. Just remember to backup your stuff first - including bookmarks.

For those in the know, yes you could simply create a new FF profile by running "firefox -p" off start/run. This essentially makes FF act 'like new', but in my experience it's not enough. You have to go through the uninstall/whack-a-folder/reg-clean/etc. process to get it done right so your reinstalled Firefox runs like it's supposed to.

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smartphones suck

This bloggo is an extended comment to the reply I made here.

What makes a smartphone suck?

  1. The cost of the phone is too high.
  2. The cost of the plan to use it is too high.
  3. It does everything, but not any one thing well.

Smartphones cost too much

A smartphone is not a phone. It's a computer. A really slow computer.

No smartphone right now can be considered "fast." They are slow. Any speed achieved is from programmers using workarounds to overcome the slowness of the CPU and limited memory.

Every smartphone made is at best worth about 50 bucks, because that's what a 10-year-old PC (the nearest speed equivalent) is worth.

"A smartphone's ability to connect to cell networks and wi-fi makes them worth more."

The ability of the smartphone to be used anywhere does not increase its value, especially given their tenure in the market.

"A smartphone's ability to run apps makes it worth more."

That has absolutely nothing to do with its hardware. Remember to solely examine the phone itself and not what it can do. The hardware is not worth what you paid for it.

"A smartphone's ability to do X, Y and Z makes it worth more."

Again, pay attention to the hardware. Software-enabled features on an underpowered toy does not magically change the fact it's still an underpowered toy.

"Newer technologies in smartphones results in a higher-priced phone when introduced to market."

Correct - and you're overpaying for it every time you buy one.

For example, X company releases an update to the phone OS which requires beefier hardware to run it. What happens at that point is a new phone is released with slightly faster hardware to accommodate the OS that needs the beef. End result? A wash. Now it's a more powerful phone with newer OS that negates the upgraded hardware. No notable increase in speed. Same crappy slowness as ever.

Smartphone plans cost way too much

Mobile networks were simply never designed to handle the data demands that a smartphone requires. The answer to this by the wireless networks is to price the plans really, really high to keep the mainstream of mobile users from choking the network to a pulp, while at the same time making a nice tidy profit.

Does this mean mobile network providers are purposely gouging the price of smartphone plans because they're completely unwilling to upgrade the network and keep the cash rolling in?


Smartphone users truly have no idea how bad they're getting screwed in this respect. What's more is that they're completely willing to accept poor network service just because their little mini-computers can do things badly that normal computers can effortlessly.

No smartphone does any one thing well

Standard compliment on smartphones: "It does everything! I love it!"

The reality: It does do everything - badly.

Every single thing a smartphone does is either qualified as average or bottom-of-the-barrel functionality. No feature on any smartphone qualifies as "best possible device to do X," for whatever X is.

Here's a few examples of what I'm talking about:

Speaker quality

Speakerphone quality


Photo shooting

I could go on but you get the idea. The point is that there is no one thing a smartphone does great. It does everything it does on par or below par.

You have a smartphone that does everything. So what? Everything it does something else can do better - and to boot you're paying for the inferior functionality AND an overpriced call plan at the same time.

Will anything save us?

Yes, and hopefully will be here in 2011 or 2012.

MetroPCS offers unlimited-everything smartphone plans with no contract on a month-to-month basis. Awesome. The problem is that the smartphones they offer are priced too high and aren't the ones people want.

A MetroPCS monthly plan with a good touchscreen $50 smartphone is a complete winner. When the price gets to that level (which it might, given time,) then I'll seriously consider it.

Until then, screw the smartphone.

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