A closer look at Firefox's new Health Report feature - gHacks Tech News

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.

firefox health report

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.

  1. Tap on the Alt key and select Tools > Options from the menu.
  2. Switch to Advanced > Data Choices.
  3. Uncheck the Enable Firefox Health Report box here to disable the sending of data to Mozilla.

firefox health report turn off

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.

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Comments

  1. ilev said on May 15, 2013 at 2:37 am
    Reply
  2. Matt said on May 15, 2013 at 3:38 am
    Reply

    My Fx health report informs me that:

    – I have 1681 bookmarks :-)
    – my browser has been open for 311989 min this month. This seems unlikely (lol), since 311989 min = 216.7 days. :-/

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 15, 2013 at 3:51 am
      Reply

      Now that is funny.

      1. Gennaro Prota said on May 15, 2013 at 9:21 am
        Reply

        Yes, mine shows garbage data as well.

    2. Arun said on May 15, 2013 at 5:30 am
      Reply

      Mine shows 1171243 min and 377 bookmarks

  3. Peter (NL) said on May 15, 2013 at 4:01 am
    Reply

    @Matt: this is a good reason to update Firefox to 21.1 :)

    I do not like these Telemetry/Health Report stuff. I can’t explain this bcoz they want to push the ugly Australis theme in the near future and remove bookmark icon, etc.
    What is Mozilla doing with this data ? They can also ask for the opinion of Firefox users, what THEY want and like in a browser.

    1. Matt said on May 15, 2013 at 4:11 am
      Reply

      If there’s one company I “trust” on the internet, it’s Mozilla. I’m happy to give them all the non-personally-identifiable telemetry data they can use, if it helps make the browser even better.

      And if they can see that lots and lots of people use small icons mode, or access the advanced javascript options, or install a bunch of extensions to regain lost features, or customize the browser in various other ways, perhaps it can help alter the course of development in my favor.

  4. firefoxlover said on May 15, 2013 at 10:25 am
    Reply

    A faster way of accessing Health Report is Help>Firefox Health Report.

  5. Simon B. said on May 15, 2013 at 10:54 am
    Reply

    extension settings, doesn’t that often include passwords?

    1. Matt said on May 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm
      Reply

      Which extensions are you thinking of?

  6. Karl J. Gephart said on May 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm
    Reply

    I have to wonder how much resources the transmitting of data back to Mozilla consumes. I agree with previous comment, they’re one of the few companies I trust and the info is not bad to have, so I’ll probably leave it on.

  7. Anonymous said on May 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm
    Reply

    @Karl J. Gephart: If you turn the data sharing to *off* you’ll still have the info but are not sharing it with Mozilla.

  8. firefoxlover said on May 15, 2013 at 3:39 pm
    Reply

    If you turn the Data Sharing to off one can still see the results but are not sharing it with Mozilla.

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