A few months ago I’ve encountered a strange behavior when Mozilla Firefox suddenly started to crash. In other words, I start it, try to do any action, like navigating to properties so I can change a setting, for example the proxy address and it doesn’t respond anymore. It happens even if I would simply write in a web address to access a site or open a new tab.
The same thing would go over and over again. The first thing you would think is that some add-on, plugin or extension did this. There were cases when going into Mozilla Firefox safe mode (not related to Windows safe mode) and disabling all the ad-dons and plugins and then activating them one by one would fix it. The logic behind this is to disable them from Mozilla Firefox safe mode, close the safe mode module, start Mozilla Firefox normally (without shift key) and it will either work and no more problems or getting stuck, or it will fail and you are back to where you’ve started.
The problem is a common one and it happens from time to time when incompatibilities between installed software and Mozilla Firefox ad-dons/plugins happen. Nothing wrong here, just general behavior as for the safe mode part of Mozilla Firefox, I will show you a bit later how to access it, if you don’t know yet.
Solution to Mozilla Firefox crash
What do you do when you disable all the plugins/ad-dons/extensions and you see Mozilla Firefox still crashing without any error or hint/output that you can use to troubleshoot it? In most cases the issue will be just a simple check-box in Mozilla Firefox settings called “Use hardware acceleration when available”.
Some systems, and I can assume yours too because you are here, fail to offer this feature due to incompatibility or faulty drivers/software.
To find this check-box open Mozilla Firefox in safe mode and navigate to “Tools” – “Options” – “General” and then check below picture:
Disable the option by selecting the check-box and open Mozilla Firefox normally to see if it still happens.
This issue still happens on Mozilla Firefox version 19.0.2 and probably on the latest too (20.0.x). The thing is that this problem is not related to Mozilla Firefox per say, you could probably blame it on the way it handles certain processes and resources regarding this feature but I am not sure if they could do something to actually fix it as it is also related to the individual computer parts each system uses with a higher strike rate on integrated peripherals like on-board video display systems.
I am not really interested in why it happens nor have I the time to inquire more as long as I know that I’ve stumbled upon a workaround for the problem with a minimal if not in-existent impact to the user’s experience.
There are cases when this won’t fix your problem, and for this I have a few more suggestions for you, like to remove all of the check-boxes under “Browsing” from the picture above. The 4 check-boxes disabled might also do the trick but then, you will have to activate them one by one via safe mode until you find the culprit. Not sure why any of them would affect the Mozilla Firefox performance more than hardware acceleration, but for me a system failed to respond to the first solution and it worked only after I disabled “Use smooth scrolling”.
Another thing you could do is to try to reset your Mozilla Firefox settings to default, but this will also cause the web browser to lose some open web sites and preferences.
To do this, there are two ways.
The easy way, just follow the instructions from the “How to open Mozilla Firefox in safe mode?” section that I wrote about below and select Reset Firefox button.
The second way, in case the one previously mentioned is not possible due to whatever reasons is that, you will have to access Firefox’s “Help” Menu, then go to “Troubleshooting Information” and select the “Reset Firefox” button. Firefox will close and re-open with information on what you can import. Follow the steps and confirm with Finish and you will have a Mozilla Firefox re-initiated to Factory Default Settings.
How to open Mozilla Firefox in safe mode?
The best way that never fails unlike those via commands and shortcuts is by using the “Shift” key on your keyboard while double-clicking the Mozilla Firefox shortcut or executable. I suggest you don‘t lose your time with commands and shortcut parameters unless you want to.
As soon as you shift double clicked the Mozilla Firefox launcher, you should see a dialogue like the one below:
Select “Start in Safe Mode” and you will be running a Mozilla Firefox instance with basic features loaded.
I hope this article will help at least some of you. As all IT users know, most of the problems you meet in real life will never be similar to others, nor will you find them acting the same way or providing the same outputs/errors. There are “common errors” and the rest of the errors. The last ones I talk about will hate you and you will hate them back because you will have to try all kind of possible solutions until you find the right one that applies to your case, even if the details of the problem are closely matching another one solved in some way that didn’t work for you. This is the IT field and the only way to get by is to embrace this behavior, don’t fight it or it will win over your nerves. You can use logs, outputs, errors, web searches and many more to point to certain possible solutions but don’t get surprised if you won’t be lucky with your first try. This is all due to many possible factors like hardware, software, environment, and so on.