Firefox Tracking Protection Decreases Page Load Times by 44%

Improved privacy is definitely a good thing … but faster page load times are even better.

Mozilla launched Tracking Protection, a new feature to block trackers on the web automatically, in Firefox Nightly back in November 2014. The feature, turned off by default, needs to be enabled before it becomes available in the browser. To do so, load about:config in the browser’s address bar and hit enter, and confirm that you will be careful. Search for privacy.trackingprotection.enabled and double-click the preference to set it to true to enable it in the browser.

Tracking Protection is available as a feature in Firefox 35 and newer, and uses Disconnect’s blocklist.

Unlike ad-blockers or script-blockers, Tracking Protection blocks so-called trackers only. The core difference is that it won’t block advertisement on web pages that you visit in Firefox but will block trackers that may be loaded on web pages to track you on the Internet.

Trackers assign unique IDs to Internet users when they connect the first time to a web page that is loading trackers. Subsequent visits to the same or other pages that use the tracker use the ID to follow the user around on the Internet to create profiles that include interests, location-based information and information about the computer system and browser used.

Firefox blocks these trackers when Tracking Protection is enabled in the browser.  To be precise, Firefox blocks connections to known trackers only. This is done to prevent page loading issues in the browser as sites may depend on these scripts and may refuse to load fully or partially.

firefox tracking

While that is useful for privacy, as it improves it significantly, it is also beneficial when it comes to the loading time of websites you visit in the browser.

A research paper by Georgios Kontaxis and Monica Chew came to the conclusion that Firefox’s Tracking Protection feature improves page load time on average by 44%. In addition, it reduced the average data usage when connecting to the top 200 Alexa websites by 39%, and dropped the number if HTTP cookies by 67,5% on those sites.

Tracking Protection blocked at least one tracking element on 99% of the top 200 Alexa sites, 11 tracking elements on 50% of the sites, and up to 150 trackers in at least one site.

Research Paper mirror:
W2SP_2015_submission_32.pdf (204 downloads )

Tracking Protection improves privacy and page loading time without blocking advertisement. While some users may prefer to block ads as well, webmasters and online businesses will certainly appreciate the method especially if advertisement is the businesses sole revenue source.

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