Firefox 3 beta 5: How many connections is too many?

I woke up this morning to an auto-update message from Firefox saying that beta 5 was available. Aside from some polish and a few bug fixes, beta 5 does have one big change over the last version: by default it will now keep three times as many connections to the server open at once. This change is somewhat controversial so let's look at it in a bit more depth.

When you open a web page that has many different objects on it, like images, Javascript files, frames, data feeds, and so forth, the browser tries to download several of them at once to get better performance. The effect is dramatic for the user, but hard on web servers.

Most HTTP servers and browsers use a protocol called "keep-alive" that doesn't close the connection when the client is done with it. This makes sense; opening a remote connection is expensive so it's much faster to open one and download 20 small items than to open and close a connection 20 times. Unfortunately the server can't tell exactly when the client is done, so all these connections are kept alive and consume resources on the server for some time.

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joydestroy3908d ago

nice. the new firefox is gonna raise the bar for browsers.

TheIneffableBob3908d ago (Edited 3908d ago )

If you'd read the article, you'd know that Firefox 3's increased simultaneous connections limit is a potential negative for web servers as the increased connections would congest the tubes.

joydestroy3908d ago

uh, key word in your own reply...potential.
which means possibility. i think the devs of Firefox know what they're doing. if they didn't so many people wouldn't prefer it over a lot of other browsers out there.

Kakkoii3908d ago (Edited 3908d ago )

This is already something that 1000's of people do in Firefox 2.

When you read almost any guide that tells you how to increase performance. One of the suggestions will usually be to type "about:config" into your browser and edit the amount of connection's allowed.

There are also 2 Firefox add-on's that have been around for quite some time that increase the max-connection's for you. (FasterFox & TweakNetworkSettings)

If you set that number to high tho, pages will end up loading slower and sometimes won't even load at all.

So they set it at a level that is acceptable. Today's server's can handle it easily. And perhaps it will help push server's to configure better for multiple simultaneous connections in the future.

What the guy reading this story doesn't realize is, just because those connection's are left open after there finished, doesn't mean it's costing them money. The connections may be left open for a bit, but no data is being sent. Thus no bandwidth is being wasted...thus no money is being lost.

I personally have my max connections set all the way up to 16. And it's great.