If you are one of the thousands suffering constant crashes from the June update of Mozilla Firefox 5, realize you are not alone. Literally thousands have reported on Firefox 5 crashing across all platforms, including Windows and Mac.
UPDATE: The crashes were clearly not a result of problems with Firefox but with Adobe Flash. Crashes happened as a direct result of landing on a page created or featuring Flash elements. Adobe was not keeping up with Flash updates and releases, nor were users updating regularly. Firefox tried desperately to create work arounds for Flash crashes, but in the end, turning off Flash within the browser caused Firefox to stop crashing. You can click the “play flash” button on the boxes that represent Flash on websites if you need to see the Flash animation or design element – but honestly, other than videos, do you really need to? Flash is dead, folks. Quit designing with it and avoid web pages designed with Flash and browse happy.
Here are some examples, starting with the search results of Firefox crashes:
- Firefox Crash
- I installed firefox beta 5 and flash crashed on every page…how can i fix it?
- firefox crashes constantly regardless of webpage
- Since I updated to Firefox 5, my computer freezes all the time. Can I get Firefox 4 again?
- New update to Firefox 5 makes Flash crash all the time!
- Firefox hangs
PC/Windows users aren’t the only ones suffering. So many Mac users have had issues with Firefox 5, Mozilla has announced an update “soon” for OS X 10.7 Lion which will be Firefox 5.0.1. Hopefully, the issues facing Firefox for all operating systems will be resolved in the same update.
Here’s the basics of what you need to know.
First, there is no one stop answer to Firefox 5 crashes. Switching to Google Chrome isn’t a solution either, though it is an option. Chrome has its own issues and limitations. For power users, bloggers, and surfers, there currently is no replacement that matches what the power, capability, and flexibility Firefox has to offer.
Second, you cannot just roll back or reinstall Firefox 4. Firefox 3.6 is the next oldest stable version. I explain why below.
What is Making Firefox 5 Crash?
Determining exactly what is causing Firefox to crash can be a bit of a Sherlock Holmes detective mission. It used to be more complex, requiring some digging into code and looking under the hood in places dark and confusing. Today, it is much easier.
It begins with getting Firefox working without crashing.
Restoring Firefox to Gather Information
If you are using a session saver or have the built-in one turned on, you should be able to restore your crashed sessions after using Safe Mode. If not, check your browser history to bring back visited pages.
With a Session Saver, you can choose which web pages you wish to open. If a specific page like Facebook is giving you grief, crashing when you load the page, then disable that page to see if that resolves the issue. You may have to experiment to find which page is causing the problem, if it is a specific page.
If you can’t even get Firefox to start, use the Safe Mode for Firefox.
If you cannot resolve the issue based upon the page you are visiting, the next step is to test your extensions/add-ons and plugins to determine if they need to be updated or are causing the Firefox crashes.
Check Plugins and Extension/Add-on Updates
If you are using a compatibility override add-on, consider turning it off and disabling all incompatible add-ons during the testing process as one of these might be the issue, no matter how innocuous it may appear.
Firefox makes the process of checking for updates even easier with their fairly new Firefox Web Browser — Plugin Check & Updates, a page with a utility built into it that tests your plugins and add-ons for you.
Update everything it recommends. It may require closing your browser to complete the updates.
Check Firefox Crash Reports
If this doesn’t resolve the crashing issues, check your Crash Reports. Type
about:crashes into the address bar in Firefox.
When you type in
about:crashes, Firefox automatically submits your reports for “priority processing.”
On the list of your most recent submitted crash reports, click each crash report link to read the report.
- Details > Signature: What does it say? Does it mention a function, file, plugin or extension?
- Details > Crash Reason: While not always helpful, sometimes this line can provide more information.
- Details > Related Bugs (bottom of page): Read the notes and check links to more information on what bug or issue might be causing the conflict.
- Details > Crashing Thread (bottom of page): What module is being impacted? Is it associated with the core program, a plugin, or add-on/extension?
- Extensions Tab: Check for current status of Extensions/Add-ons.
- Comments Tab: Others reporting similar issues often have their comments listed here which could lead to some help or more information.
Look through several of the reports. You might see consistent problems being reported, and a solution or notes might be in the reports as well. These are also the reports requested by Firefox Support.
Click the Crash Data for Mozilla Firefox header to see an analytics report of Firefox crashes per 100 Active Daily Users and other data. The lines in the chart are color coded per version. Hover over your version to get more specific data. This helps you to know whether or not you are alone and have a fairly unique issue, or part of a trending issue.
Some helpful crash report links are:
- Top Crashers for Firefox 5.0: A list of the items are that mostly likely crashing Firefox.
- Top Crashers for Firefox 5.0 by Top Site Ranking: This is a list of the top domain level sites crashing Firefox.
- Top Crashers for Firefox 5.0 by Domain: Lists the domains causing the most crashes with Firefox.
- Top Crashers for Firefox 5.0 by URL: Lists the top crashing URL addresses.
Currently, Facebook and YouTube are the mostly candidates for crashing Firefox 5. Facebook comes in at 58,925 as the top site ranking and 36,415 as a top level domain, and thousands at various subdomains at Facebook such as Facebook apps. It also wins by URL, so something on Facebook is causing problems with Firefox.
Whether it is a Firefox or Facebook issue, I’m still digging, but the numbers are hard to ignore as they keep increasing, jumping by hundreds even as I write this article.
This is also a good example of why you should report such crashes to Mozilla using their automatic crash reporting tool.
How to Fix Firefox
There are a variety of choices you can make with the information you have.
If a plugin or extension/add-on is out of date, update it. Restart Firefox and it might solve your ills.
If there isn’t an update, look for an alternative. If an alternative isn’t available, contact the author’s page to find out what the delay is or if support has been discontinued. If they request donations, consider making one to encourage their ongoing support.
If the issue has information linked to a resolution, then follow those instructions.
Check the Firefox Support Forums carefully to see if others are reporting the same issues. While many people are just complaining and not giving specific information, there is often helpful tips that might lead to the answer. If you find the right answer, make sure you mark it as helpful so others will take note.
Some people get too frustrated and decide they want to roll back to a previous version. Usually that’s not a big deal, but in this case, take some care.
|NOTE: Do not try to install Firefox 4. A serious security vulnerability may put your computer at risk. Firefox 3.6 is the most current stable past version of Firefox.|
Firefox 5 was pushed out fairly quickly as it was found to be fairly stable and a security vulnerability with Firefox 4 has made that version too risky to continue using. The only older stable and secure version is Mozilla Firefox 3.6.
To reinstall Firefox 3.6:
- Backup and save all of your personal settings, profile, bookmarks, etc. so you can restore them in the new version.
- Download but do not install Mozilla Firefox 3.6 yet.
- Do a complete uninstall of the current version of Firefox.
- Install Firefox 3.6.
You may have to disable and remove all your add-ons if they are still featured as they may not work with the older version. If you cannot find an older version on the Add-ons for Firefox list, check with the authors for older versions that will work with Firefox 3.6.
Do Not Give Up on Firefox
As I’ve reported many times, Firefox has had a rough two years when it comes to compatibility issues and crashing. This brave leader in web browsing that took on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer domination and now represents a whole global market share, and today takes on Google’s world domination with Chrome, is still a force to be reckoned with, so have faith and keep reporting and helping Firefox improve.
The policies and behavior that made it a welcome choice for power web users and bloggers continues to grow and thrive, meeting our demands and parting the Red Sea of innovation in an ever worrisome web with security and privacy battles ahead of us.
It’s easy to turn to Chrome or other choices. It takes work to continue to report an open source, community led project like Mozilla Firefox. Personally, I think the work is worth it.
During the crashes of Firefox 3, I put Google Chrome to the test. After eight months of use, Firefox 4 was released, bringing stability back to Firefox. I compared the speed at which I could create a blog post between the two.
The same article took me 45 minutes in Chrome and 15 minutes in Firefox. The add-ons for Firefox make the task of blogging so much faster, copying links and content and editing the entire process to final publishable copy. Greasemonkey Userscripts save me even more time. While there similar add-ons are slowly being ported over to Chrome, they aren’t ready for prime time. When time is money, Firefox wins in my business.
Today, as long as I stay away from Facebook and Facebook apps, Firefox 5 isn’t crashing. So I’m not giving up.
Hang in there. Mozilla is a fairly agile company supported by some die hard fans.