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Surviving a Firefox Crash

Monday, November 29th, 2010 by | Filed Under: Uncategorized, Using The Internet

Mike from San Francisco, California writes:

I use Firefox as my main browser. Lately it’s been crashing and says it’s because of an Adobe flash plug in. Can I fix this?

Hi, Mike! I’m glad you wrote, because I have heard that a lot of people have experiences this problem, and it’s easily fixed in one of two ways. Before we fix this issue, though, let me apprise you of some things.

In June of this year (2010), Firefox released version 3.6.4. This new version has one huge advantage over the previous versions: Crash protection. Take a look at what was in the new version’s Release Notes:

What’s New in Firefox 3.6.4

Firefox 3.6.4 provides uninterrupted browsing for Windows and Linux users when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugins.
If a plugin crashes or freezes, it will not affect the rest of Firefox. You will be able to reload the page to restart the plugin and try again.

It was the greatest addition to a new version of Firefox since sliced bread. (Did you know that Wikitionary actually considers “greatest thing since sliced bread” a noun? Seriously, look it up! I digress.)

If you don’t know what version of Firefox you have, Mike, you probably ought to check. If you don’t have the newest version, then when you update your version, your crash problems will almost certainly be solved. (Note: If they aren’t, I’ll show you how to fix the problem manually for any version of Firefox.)

Firefox is configured to check for updates by default, but you want to make sure that all of your updates have been installed, so (manually) this is how you do it:

To update to the most recent version of Firefox and to see what version you have, go to the top of your browser to your menu bar and click on Help, and then Check Updates… See below for an example on how to find your version of Firefox:

First, the menu bar at the top of your browser looks like this:


Do you see Help, on the end? Left-click on it.


This is what popped up after I checked for updates:


If you don’t have the latest version, you will see this:


Just click on Get the new version >>> and it will guide you through the process of updating to the new version.

Okay, back to my updates (or lackthereof). I wanted to see what version I had, so I clicked on About Mozilla Firefox.


This is what popped up after I clicked on it:


Okay, we’ve updated your version (hopefully that was the cause). If, however, you do have the newest version of Firefox and it keeps crashing, what then? You use the following manual fix I mentioned earilier in this article.

Firefox has “hang protection” built in to help you in case you have problems with a plug in and Firefox wants to kill whatever it is that is happening; in your case, Mike, it is Adobe Flash. (Hangtime is the amount of time you sit there and wait for something to happen; in this case it would be for Firefox to crash.) To make it so that Firefox does not crash even when a plugin is misbehaving, you want to disable the “hang protection”. You will still have the problem, but your browser won’t crash because of it. Here’s how to disable hang protection (it’s really easy):
In the location bar (your address bar), type about:config and press Enter.


One thing: What you want is the about:config page to come up. Depending on your type of computer, you may have a page come up first that looks like this:


Don’t get panicky like I did (I hate those kinds of warnings!); it’s fine. Just click on “I’ll be careful, I promise!” and the about:config page will then appear.
First, type this in the Filter box:


Next, double-click on the file (listed under Preference Name).


A box will pop up. Change the number to “-1 ” without the quotes . Click on OK.


That’s it! You have disabled hang protection. Firefox will still catch the plugin problems, but it won’t crash your browser.

Well, Mike, if you do the things listed in this article, there should be no way that Firefox will crash anymore.

And again, thanks so much for writing!

~ Lori Cline

If you would like to manually download the newest version of Firefox, click here.

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