A closer look at Firefox's new Health Report feature
Health Report was surely the big new feature in yesterday's release of Firefox 21. At its core, it is a service that provides Mozilla with information about the system but even more so about how the web browser itself. It keeps for instance track of how long the browser has been open in total, the average startup time or add-on preferences.
The idea here is not only to provide Mozilla with metrics to better understand how Firefox is being used, but also to use the data to discover trends that may require fixing. This complements the browser's current options to repair or resolve certain issues. Think of the session restore feature after crashes or the automated blocking of insecure plugins and add-ons.
Mozilla plans to use the data to find out about larger issues quickly and in the best case before they reach the bulk of users of the browser. This can be especially helpful in regards to browser extensions as the data may help Mozilla discover issues caused by specific add-ons.
For now though, it is just logging basic health related information in the browser. What those information are? Lets find out:
- Firefox version.
- appBuild ID.
- platform version.
- platform BuildID.
- operating system, memory, architecture.
- update channel.
- all add-ons and their settings.
- Firefox profile age.
- Information about the current session.
- Installed extensions, plugins and themes.
- Bookmarks and pages information.
- Search counts.
- Information about load events.
You can open the local Health Report page by loading about:healthreport in the web browser.
Here you see a graphical representation of the data. Not everything is displayed here currently though and the use is limited because of that. What may be interesting is the graph highlighting the startup time by day which you can analyze, for instance to find out when Firefox started to start up slower than before.
Here you can also switch to the Raw Data view which provides you with a detailed log about the data that is transferred to Mozilla by the Firefox Health Report.
Turning Health Report off
The Health Report is turned on by default in Firefox 21. You can disable the data sharing in two ways. First, by clicking on the data sharing switch on the Firefox Health Report page, and second in the options.
- Tap on the Alt key and select Tools > Options from the menu.
- Switch to Advanced > Data Choices.
- Uncheck the Enable Firefox Health Report box here to disable the sending of data to Mozilla.
Should you leave the feature enabled or not? That's entirely up to you. If you do not like the idea of submitting data to Mozilla, then turn it off.
The data is stored anonymously on Mozilla servers and you can always access what is being transferred to Mozilla by clicking on the Raw Data link on the Health Report page. It may also be interesting for you if you want to keep track of your browser's startup time and maybe other features that Mozilla will implement along the road.Advertisement