Opera Performance Enhancements

On modern hardware Opera is very fast, and generally does not need to be reconfigured. However for old computers there are ways to improve performance (in order of importance):

  1. Disabling Java, Plugins, Javascripts (Ctrl+F12 » Advanced » Content)
    • And allowing them to run on selected sites only (F12 » Edit Site Preferences).
  2. Disabling Page icons (Ctrl+F12 » Advanced » Browsing)
    • Disabling icons improves responsiveness in any activity involving showing icons: browsing bookmarks, history, feeds, tabs. Large number of cached icons further increase slowdowns in that areas.
  3. Disabling RAM cache if there's limited amout of RAM available (Ctrl+F12 » Advanced » History)
    • Should only be enabled if there's free RAM to spare. Amount of currently available physical RAM can be checked in Windows OS by Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc » Performance).
  4. Using Disk Cache, but emptying it on exit (Ctrl+F12 » Advanced » History)
    • Large number of files accumulated over time in disk cache can slowdown Opera's responsiveness.
  5. Blocking all unneeded content on pages (Tools » Advanced » Blocked Content)
    • So Opera won't have to render or process it. Any particular resource can be blocked by Opera's content blocker: html, image, plugin, css, javascript, etc., any content matching a wildcard.
  6. Unpacking executables (by UPX, for example)
    • Unpacked executables can use less RAM, and start faster. It's only needed to unpack one file: opera.dll.
  7. Disabling unneeded components to free RAM (through opera:config)
  8. Using OS default Opera skin and disabling visual effects (Shift+F12)
  9. Disabling remembering content on visited pages, and setting remembered addresses number to some reasonable extent (ex. 5000) (Ctrl+F12 » Advanced » History)
  10. Disabling fraud protection (Ctrl+F12 » Advanced » Security)
    • Would result in less network round-trips.
  11. Disabling Animated Images (Ctrl+F12 » Advanced » Content)
    • Image animation (ads) takes up additional CPU resources to render.
  12. Disabling Inline Frames (Ctrl+F12 » Advanced » Content » Style Options)
    • They are usually used by ads. It's better to allow them only on sites that do require them to operate.
  13. Disabling Sounds on web pages (Ctrl+F12 » Advanced » Content)
  14. Disabling parsing CSS on heavy pages (Shift+G)
    • Page would render more quickly without parsing CSS. Although usability would usually suffer, it's useful when it is known where to look for and what information is needed on a page.
  15. While multitasking with other applications, setting Opera to 'high' priority will give it CPU preference.

Problem: Opera startup takes a long time.

Cause: Opera frequently accesses mail database files on startup reading 4096 bytes of data each time. Large (or even moderate) Opera M2 mail database causes startup to take up to several minutes, especially on fragmented hard drives and especially if other programs access disk at the same time (such as P2P programs or anything else).

Solution: In the Mail folder compress the indexer folder and the omailbase.dat file. Opera must be closed when you do that. To compress the files right click on them, go to Properties, then press Advanced button and enable "Compress contents to save disk space". To find mail folder, open opera6.ini in "C:\Program Files\Opera\profile\" (or user directory if a multiuser installation is used) and find the "Mail Root Directory" variable.

You MAY need to have opera mail stored on an NTFS partition for this to work. The reason it works appears to be the following: when a compressed file is accessed, more of it is loaded into RAM by Windows, meaning when a next chunk of it is read, it is accessed instantly. You MAY need to have enought RAM on the system for this to work.

Note!: To find out if the slow startup is caused by mail index, start Opera with mail disabled (see elsewhere for instructions to do that).

Credit: Danila Medvedev (if you want to live forever, google "immortalism")

Problem: Graphics heavy pages slow down older computers.

Cause: Lots of pictures take more memory / CPU, which is more difficult for older computers to render.

Solution: Opera gives you the choice to save some memory and CPU by not pre-drawing the images before you see them on the page. The benefit is less used resources, but graphics may 'pop' onto the screen rather than smoothly scrolling into view. If you want to save memory and resources, edit opera6.ini and add:

Turbo mode = 0

Remember also that Shift+i toggles graphics between off/cache/on - you can use a default of cached only and this will greatly speed up page load, pressing Shift+i to load any images (or right-clicking individual pictures and selecting Load Image). It is also possible to press i to load all images on a page that requires images to be displayed.

Problem: Page contents moves about while loading, appearing to load slowly.

Cause: Opera uses a progressive rendering technology which actually speeds up the time it takes to get readable text content, but at the expense of the page redrawing each time some new information is added. Many users perceive this to be actually slower when they see the content redrawing, even if when timed objectively, it is faster. Opera gives you the choice about how you want it to load the page, depending on what you perceive as faster!!!

Solution: If you would rather read the text quickly at the expense of the page redrawing more, set Preferences » Advanced » Browsing » Loading to "redraw instantly". If you would rather wait (to see more smooth loading behaviour), then increase this setting according to your taste. Users on slow connections but fast computers should set this about 1-2 second, slower computers on slow connections about 2-3 seconds. If you have a fast connection, most data should be in by about 1-2 seconds, so set to "redraw instantly" (or "redraw when loaded" if you want it super smooth!). If your fast connection is linked to a slow computer, then set it from about 2 seconds up ("redraw when loaded" should be good in this case) to minimise lots of page redrawing.

Problem: Some parts of a page (especially adverts) hang on some web sites.

Cause: Incorrect settings for "Max connections to a server" in Preferences » Network. See HttpProtocol for technical details.

Solution: Web standards suggest a browser should use no more than two persistent connections per server[1]. Opera's default is 8 connections per server (although only half of these are persistent at any one time when HTTP 1.1 is used.[2]). Many users increase the number of "Max connections to a server" thinking it will make Opera faster. Often too many simultaneous connections actually slow down the time taken to load a page (servers can deny lots of simultaneous connections, and the time overhead to make lots of new connections takes longer than if data was pipelined on a single/few connections). If you get Opera hanging on parts of a page, reduce this number back to 8 or 4. You can keep the "Max total connections" higher, and this number depends on the bandwidth/speed of your internet connection. I've used 32 with no problem on dial-up and 64 to 128 on broadband; if you open lots of pages simultaneously, you should try increasing this number.

If you use a proxy, this is treated as a single "server" by browsers and so you should set your "Max connections to a server" equal to "Max total connections", e.g. 64/64.

[1] HTTP/1.1 Protocol, Chapter on persistent connections.
[2] See this newsgroup article.

Problem: When the page finishes loading some images are missing.

Cause: Incorrect settings for "Max connections to a server" in Preferences » Network.

Solution: On slow/busy Internet connections having too many connections (more than 8) open may lead to some of them timing out. Setting the number of "Max connections to a server" to a lower number (2-4) makes Opera queue the requests and they won't time out. Decreasing the number of connections on a slow (dial-up) or busy (shared connection or P2P is heavily used) Internet link will not make downloading slower, but it will prevent connections timing out.

Problem: Slow name resolution when typing in incomplete web addresses.

Cause: By default, Opera searches for networked machines when resolving a typed in address, slowing down the time taken to find the right address. Virtually no one uses this network search, so it should be turned off.

Solution: Preferences » Advanced » Network » Server name completion » Disable 'look for local network machine'. Turn off name completion too if you don't use it.

Alternate solution: It also is effective to keep a smaller number of entries in your history. To do this, go into opera's preferences box, touch on the advanced tab, move down to the history section... and choose 5000 visited addresses. I believe opera8 ships with the mark set there at 10 000 visited addresses.

Problem: Generally slow surfing.

Cause: Inefficient Cache settings. The cache stores information from the web locally on your computer so if you need the information again, it comes from your computer and is much faster. If the information has changed, Opera must decide how often to check if there is new information that must be downloaded. Another benefit is that you can browse pages offline using the cached page.

Solution: The cache in Opera allows fine adjustment to get the most out of it. The settings you choose depend very much on how important it is for you to see the 'latest' version of a page. If that is you, then disable the cache entirely, but remember you will get slow performance (and detrimentally increase traffic on the internet, not good netizen behaviour). If you want to optimise your performance (and be a good netizen), then set the cache to the following (preferences » Advanced » History):

Check documents: Every 5 mins
Check Images and Others: Every 24 hours or every week

Always check redirect: leave on for compatibility, and off for possibly slightly more performance.

REMEMBER: If you want to check if a page has been updated, then press F5 to reload the page from the web, if any information has been updated, those new parts will be downloaded and displayed fresh (things that are unchanged are not downloaded again).

In Opera 9+ accepting all cookies might improve fast loading (Accept all cookies = 3 see opera:config#UserPrefs|EnableCookies ).
Nonetheless you may want to set cookies for site specific preference (SPP) (right click a site in question > preferences > cookies) and then delete any new cookies when exiting Opera (tick the check mark of opera:config#UserPrefs|AcceptCookiesSessionOnly ).

Problem: Opera startup takes a long time.

Cause: Opera may be slow to start if you have a large global.dat file (found in your profile directory. If this file is larger than 500K, the slowdown may be noticeable.

Solution: Preferences » History and cache - change "Visited addresses" to 5000 or even 1000. Try clearing history (Preferences » Advanced » History) and 'clear' Visited addresses, to regenerate this file anew. To be absolutely sure, try deleting global.dat manually (it is found in your profile directory)in case it has become corrupted.

Problem: Opera startup takes a long time.

Cause: Some people still find that a large cache can slow down the starting time of Opera - or that dcache4.url may be corrupted.

Solution: Preferences » Advanced » History - lower "Disk Cache" size, or if you don't mind losing the speed up to browsing (which I would) - you could "Empty on exit" the cache. Remember lowering the disk cache size/emptying on exit will slow down browsing and put more load on the internet, so this is a balance (I'd much rather have faster browsing and slower startup personally). To see whether your cache index is corrupt: empty the cache (Tools » Delete Private Data), then find where the cache is located (Help > About) - and use your file manager / explorer to go to the cache directory and delete the dcache4.url file.

Problem: Opera startup takes a long time.

Cause: Older versions of Opera (<V8.x) scan the fonts folder prior to startup, and with large fonts collections, startup therefore takes longer.

Solution: Old versions of Opera scans the fonts folder on startup, presumably looking for display fonts and fonts for international charactersets. Large font collections also slow Windows down, and so using a font manager is highly advised. Font managers (see a list here), apart from usefully organising and managing unweildly font collections, allow groups of fonts to be dynamically loaded/unloaded, thus using up less resources and resulting in faster startup times. Someone has also suggested in turning: Control Panel » Fonts » Tools » Folder Options » Truetype Fonts » "Show only truetype..." on as possibly speeding up Opera start times.

Problem: Opera startup takes a long time.

Cause: active skin is unpacked (not compressed)

Solution: After you unpack a skin to modify it, make sure to compress it back into a ZIP file. Opera is able to load a skin from an uncompressed directory, but it takes a LOT longer.

Problem: Slow browsing when using a Proxy (e.g. TheProxomitron) - sometimes 'hanging' the UI when lots of tabs are loading together.

Cause: Opera disables HTTP 1.1 by default for proxies (as not all proxies are compatible), thus slowing network performance down.

Solution: Go to Preferences » Network » Proxy Servers and turn "Enable HTTP 1.1 for proxies" on. If you use TheProxomitron, also turn off "Local connections persist..." as this (bug) actually turns off outbound HTTP/1.1 from the Proxomitron to the outside web!

Problem: UI reacts slowly, often after using Opera for a while.

Cause: Insufficient system memory.

Solution: Preferences » Advanced » History - to disable Automatic RAM Cache, set it to a smaller size if you have limited memory. Here are some rough estimates:

RAMCache Size
32MB OFF
64MBOFF
128MB10MB
256MB20MB
512MB40MB
>1024MB40-60MB

Problem: UI lags and "hangs" with multiple windows open.

Solution: Make sure that Preferences » Network » Synchronous DNS is turned OFF. If you use the original Windows 95, however, you need to leave it on. Any other Windows version can have it off without any problems.

Note: This option is not available anymore since Opera 8.

Problem: Long startup, with a lot of disk activity.

Cause: Too many plugins.

Solution: Type in opera:plugins in the address field, you'll see a list of loaded plugins. Which of those do you really need? Delete unnecessary plug-ins (for example you don't need any Java ones), or add the file names to plugin-ignore.ini if you are using them with Netscape.

Problem: Slow scrolling with images and flash.

Cause: Slow computer may not always be efficient to smooth scroll graphics heavy pages.

Solution: Disable smooth scrolling (Preferences » Advanced » Browsing).

Problem: Slow page rendering, artifacts on screen.

Cause: Video adaptor problems.

Solution: Is your videocard overclocked? If so, try to stop overclocking it. Try to decrease "Hardware acceleration" in your adaptor properties and see if it helps. Try to upgrade (downgrade?) your drivers. This can also stop crashes.

Problem: Opera crashes on certain sites using Java, slow performance, lags.

Cause: JRE 1.4.1_02 / 03 is unstable with Opera on some systems.

Solution: Install the latest Java Runtime Environment.

http://java.com/en/download/manual.jsp

Problem: Overall slow performance.

Possible Cause: Packed EXE and DLL files (using ASPack).

Solution: If you are running a anti-virus that checks files in real-time on open/access, this may become a issue (although users disagree strongly on this). Kaspersky is one example of such software that some users have had trouble with. If you are worried, try to setup your AV software not to monitor Opera folders. This type of checking could considered over-paranoid and slows down your system somewhat. Note that you will potentially increase your vulnerability to infection; you must weigh up the benefits versus the risks. Additionally, it is reported that latest versions of Kaspersky AV are not causing the slowdown.





Other Tips

Keep webpages in your cache for the entire length of time you have chosen them to be there.

Have you ever wondered why, even though you have explicitly chosen to recheck pages only every few minutes or hours, some types of pages stubbornly insist on reloading themselves anyway when you return to browse back through the pages which you have just surfed through?

At issue here, is the fact that some webdesigners think it's important that you have the up to the minute version of their webpage - for instance if they have rotating ads on the page, or if it is a discussion board index.

There is an easy way to ignore these requests from the webpage to be reloaded. It involves hand editing your opera6.ini file. Scroll through that file until you come to the line which says [Cache]. This should be a very short section. At the bottom of that section, write in these two lines of text.

[Cache]
...

...
**Check Expiry History=1**
**Check Expiry Load=1**

After you have made this change, be mindful that you will have to be very careful to refresh pages, manually, by pressing F5, when you are using internet forms, and at other times when you want to see the most recent version of a webpage

Some users may experience web pages in opera which begin to visually break up

When this occurs, after a certain amount of time surfing the net, opera's display of webpages will begin to fragment. Usually this will exhibit itself when you are moving back and forth through the history. The page title will appear in the title bar, but the old page will not load into the browser. Upon grabbing the scroll bar, you discover that portions of the old page will roll onto the screen so that you see half of one page, and half of the other at the same time. Certain elements of the old page will come forward when you roll your mouse over the mask of the inappropriately displayed webpage.

Cause: It seems that with some computers, the popular use of opera's filter.ini file as an ad blocking utility may cause opera to get confused on pages which have more advertisements on them. Opera seems to be at a loss as to how to draw those pages.

The solution involves hand editing your opera6.ini file, which is found in the profile folder of opera's program directory. Open this file with a plain text editor such as notepad.exe; scroll down the page until you see a section which is labeled [adv user prefs] and place a semicolon before the line which reads "URL Filter File="

[Adv User Prefs]
...
;URL Filter File=C:\program files\opera\profile\filter.ini
...

Using flash memory for opera's cache folder

You can opt to have opera cache it's webpages and images and other stuffs, on an SD card or compact flash card or on a keychain drive - a memory card which is permanently plugged in, through one of your usb ports (or pcmcia slot). This will speed up opera, somewhat, while you surf the web.

I assume, as I write this tutorial, that you already have a flash memory card and a reader for this - and that you know fluently, how to plug it into your computer, and use it.

With your flash memory plugged in, when you look in the root of your folder structure, you should see an extra drive letter which corresponds with your flash memory card. Open that drive - and peruse through the folders, and search out whether you have any photos, or other insundry stuffs you would like to move over to your computer - before you let opera use the flash card. Then, create a folder on the card with a name of your choice. In this tutorial, I'll use the name "operacache". Thus, if my flash memory is recognized by the computer as Edrive, then my folder path will be e:\operacache

Next, you want to look through the folder where you installed your opera web browser. Inside, you'll discover an inner folder named "profile", and within that, you will find a file named "opera6.ini". Open it, with a plain text editor, such as notepad.exe. The top lines which you see, ought to be:

//Opera Preferences version 2.0//
//; Do not edit this file while Opera is running//
//; This file is stored in UTF-8 encoding//

Immediately below, you should see a section which is labeled [User Prefs], and just under there, I'll insert a line which reads: cache directory4=e:\operacache, like this:

[User Prefs]
**cache directory4=e:\operacache**
...

Substitute the appropriate pathway which you have chosen, to the right of the equals sign. Save that file, and the next time you use opera, you'll be navigating the internet more smoothly.

notes

1) Oh - and if you forget, and don't have your flash memory plugged into the computer, it's no big deal, opera will simply place it's cache back in it's old location.

2) It's always a good idea to save an archival copy of your opera6.ini file before you edit it, so that if you make an error, you can restore the original file.

3) You'll need to make certain that opera is keeping a disc cache of a size which will fit properly onto the free space of your flash memory card. You can look at the current size of opera's cache allotment, in opera8, in your preferences panels. Run your finger up to your tools menu, choose preferences, touch on the advanced placard, and look at the history section. You'll see a dropdown box, where you can choose the largest size of the disk cache, which is allowed opera. There should be options there, ranging from 2megabytes up to 400 megabytes.

General computer maintenance

Keeping your computer maintained properly, will also increase it's efficiency, especially with software which uses the computer so intensely, such as opera, or other web browsers.

You always ought to have at least 300megabytes of space free on the harddisc, where you have installed microsoft windows. If it gets down below 50megabytes free, you will start seeing inexplicable freezes of the computer at odd moments.

Your harddiscs ought to be defragmented frequently. (especially the one where most of your software has been installed). Very slowly, over the course of weeks, if such maintenance is not done, the overall response time of the computer, to the mouse and keyboard will become slower and slower.

The single easiest way to increase your computer's overall performance - to allow you the ability to multitask on more things at once - is to add physical memory. Research your computer/motherboard to see what kind of memory you need. Once you've learned this, and you have looked to see how many free slots are available inside your computer, it's simply a matter of purchasing the memory chip, and plugging it in, while your computer is powered off. The memory board will be recognized by the computer when the computer is next turned on, and no further work is necessary.


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