Downgrading Firefox

While everyone is busy upgrading their WordPress, I spent this morning downgrading Firefox.

As most of you will likely remember, I upgraded to Firefox 3 on download day and was quite happy” with it. The excitement was fairly short-lived, unfortunately.

I’ve been having problems with Firefox for a couple of months. I’d close the browser — either to shut down for the night or because I wasn’t using it at that precise moment — only to find when I tried to re-open it that the process had hung. This required a manual CTRL ALT DEL -> kill process to be able to try again (sometimes I’d have to repeat this 2-3 times before it’d finally open).

After an hour or so of use, memory usage typically shoots up to the 300,000K+ stage, which is 3 times what I predict it should be at (I very rarely have more than a few tabs open at once; my Firefox is not themed).

Most annoyingly, every time I load a web page that is even slightly “multimedia heavy” — i.e. uses flash, JavaScript, multiple images — Firefox would crash and burn. Earlier this week, after the 9th time of crashing in one day, I used to Mozilla Crash Reporter to send a profanity-filled rant to the Mozilla team. I’d apologise for sending it but it wouldn’t be sincere… I meant every word I said.

So, to cut my rambling rant short, I downgraded this morning. I downloaded Firefox 2.0.0.11 from OldVersion.com, uninstalled 3.0.4 and did an install and upgrade to 2.0.0.18. It’s a miracle… I’ve not had a problem since.

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26 comments so far

  1. Julie said:
    On December 12, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I’ve been having similar problems. My regular browsing is mostly blogs, Snark and Facebook, plus online flash games. The memory usage has often gone above 1 000 000 K. It’s a bit less bad these days, but it’s still always a few hundred of thousands.

    This is all on Eric’s computer, which is high performance and whatnot, but it gets a hard time because of the ridiculous memory usage. I never thought of trying to downgrade Firefox…I’ll talk to him about it.

  2. Peter said:
    On December 12, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    I checked Google Reader right before you posted this, and then when I browsed here I was thinking “why didn’t this show up in Google Reader?” :P

    I have a Mac, so I don’t think Firefox takes up as much memory.

  3. Anita said:
    On December 12, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    I’ve been having problems too, but a bit different.
    More then half the websites I try and visit come up as a whole page or two of Japanese characters–I didn’t notice they where Japanese before because I didn’t have the language pack installed.
    It seems to only happen on sites with a generous amount of JS, because your’s works fine. (BTW, I did have the default size font to 9 by mistake. Hehe ^^;)

  4. Vanesa said:
    On December 12, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    I’ve had some problems too. Firefox takes so long to start up on my computer, I just switched to Opera.

  5. Joe said:
    On December 12, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    “I’ve been having problems with Firefox for a couple of months. I’d close the browser — either to shut down for the night or because I wasn’t using it at that precise moment — only to find when I tried to re-open it that the process had hung. This required a manual CTRL ALT DEL -> kill process to be able to try again (sometimes I’d have to repeat this 2-3 times before it’d finally open).”

    That is so annoying! I have been having this problem since the day I upgraded to 3.0
    Don’t know if I should downgrade though, hmm.

  6. Vasili said:
    On December 12, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    I’ve never had a problem with Firefox, not even with the memory. The most tabs I’ve ever had open was 13, and I was only using ~150,000K of memory with that. Hope everything works better for you!

    …now, where is my Furry Friday!? >O

  7. Megan said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 12:04 am

    I must be lucky or something. I rarely have a problem with Firefox. Then again the max amount of tabs I keep open at time is four. Old habit from having to use dial-up for nearly eight years.

  8. Nat Marie said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 12:25 am

    “After an hour or so of use, memory usage typically shoots up to the 300,000K+ stage, which is 3 times what I predict it should be at (I very rarely have more than a few tabs open at once; my Firefox is not themed).”

    That is the reason why I’ve switched to Opera. Firefox ate up more memory than when I have The Sims 2 running! That makes no sense. They need to fix that problem!

  9. Mimi said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 12:47 am

    I haven’t had the crashing problem, but for some reason almost every time I close the window after I am done using FF it says that there was an error that forced it to shut down.. I’m like, is there? Because I just closed it myself? After seeing it several times a day, I just ignore it.

    I DO, however, have the other problem. When I try to open FF it says it is already running.. What’s up with that??

  10. Vera said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 1:01 am

    I didn’t exactly have crashing and burning issues… but sometimes (dunno really when, doesn’t seem to have a rule), it would freeze up on youtube and I’d have to ctrl+alt+del it.
    I was thinking of downgrading too, but in the long run, it works mostly fine… so I guess I’ll keep it… for now.

  11. Roxanne said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 2:00 am

    I haven’t had any crashing problems per say, but my FireFox 3 on the Mac at my job has been having issues lately. After about a good two hours or so of using it, sometimes when I would click on a tab that has a website open that I was working with not too long ago, the links and what not would just stop working. I would click a link once or twice and nothing would happen.

    I even checked to see if it were loading and nothing. So I would have to close the browser. It’s been happening more often now, I think I may have to “downgrade” that version on the Mac, but so far here on my PC, it’s been OK.

  12. Belinda said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 2:07 am

    I have that same process-hanging problem you spoke of. Really annoying. I might also downgrade and see if that helps.

  13. Meggan said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 3:14 am

    I don’t have crashing problems, but probably 7 out of 10 times I close it, I hear my computer humming away a while later and it’s due to the process not closing and I have to ctrl+alt+del to get rid of it. Wasn’t sure if it was just me or if it was more pervasive.

    I don’t think I’ll downgrade, mostly because that’s really the only problem I’ve noticed, but I do think it’s stupid that it can’t manage to shut itself down when you tell it to.

  14. Anthony said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 3:32 am

    That happens to me as well. All I have to do though is open the task manager and end the process once. It crashes sometimes when I go to certain sites as well.

  15. Claire said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 4:15 am

    I also downgraded to 2 last night, but I didn’t have any of the problems you described (except the weird hanging process one). My main issue was with scrolling — some sites would be perfectly fine, others would take literally seconds for each “section” to move down. So annoying.

    I tried multiple times to fix it with various plugins, hacks, enabling “smooth scrolling,” reinstalling things, but nothing worked … so it’s back to Firefox 2 for now. Sigh.

  16. Hannah said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 4:48 am

    I’ve had a similar problem, only on Mac. Most of the time when I quit Firefox, it closes… but still has the white “open” dot indicator below the icon and when I right click it says it’s not responding. I then have to force quit. I’m not too bothered about it, so I won’t be downgrading.

  17. Annie said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 4:56 am

    I’ve been having similar problems too. Whenever I close it, it’s actually running in the background. It always takes up a lot of memory, likes to get slow on certain websites, and just recently I’ve been having the crashing problem.

    I had been using Google Chrome at first when I realized Firefox was starting to suck, but it’s not a good replacement.

  18. Joe said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Very rarely, I get the “Firefox is already running” error, making me have to close the process from the task manager, but that’s the only real problem I’ve ever had with it. My memory usage has never been particularly taxing either.

    T’is a shame you were having problems though. But FF2 is still good enough. :P

  19. Jenny said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    I’m still on 2.0.0.18. There are certain extensions I don’t want to lose. :-/ Well! I guess I’ll be sticking with this one for the time being. :P

  20. Jordan said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Now my problem is losing some of the functionality if I downgrade. Since 3.0 was officially released my install crashes about 15+ times a day if I’m actively using it. Although when I had it on the my work Vista
    PC I never had any problems. Wonder if it’s more compatible with Vista.

    Their crash report website shows a lot of people dealing with random crashes for no reason. Siiiiigh

  21. Leila said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    I’ve been using Chrome since its release, and only open FF for things that act wonky in this browser. The great thing about Chrome is that if one tab hangs, the rest are separate processes, allowing the problem to be killed while preserving the rest. With four tabs open, it’s taking up 79mb of RAM — the browser itself is 47 at the moment, Google Reader is 12, iGoogle is 16, and the rest are negligible.

    It’s pretty great, imo.

  22. Katie said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Jem, I can’t remember if you’re a Mac or PC person, but I know that when I updated to Flash Player 10 on my PC, FF crashed all the time, especially on pages with multimedia.. downgraded back to FP9 and have no problems with Firefox anymore..

  23. Austin said:
    On December 13, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I’ve been having the same issues with Firefox – memory spikes, frequent crashes on remotely media dispersed sites, and (one that you didn’t mention) Firefox just acting bizarre thanks to add-ons.

    I’ve switched to Google Chrome and haven’t run into anything since. Although, I do miss Firefox’s delicious add-on.

  24. Zatanna said:
    On December 14, 2008 at 6:52 am

    You’re not the only one to have problems with Firefox 3. FF3 on my Vista and my Mac started acting up a little after I upgraded to it. The problems weren’t like yours but it did crash a lot. It’d crash and then not open again and I couldn’t add any new sites to my favorites.

    The problems got so bad I just gave up and switched to Flock. :P

  25. echo said:
    On December 15, 2008 at 1:16 am

    I’ve come to grips with my Firefox problems and just deal with ’em as they come. I’ve personalized the heck out of FF with a ton of add-ons (many of which are disabled in an attempt to keep my computer from crashing), so it’s kind of hard to use other browsers.
    I didn’t like Chrome very much (I had a scrolling problem and Google sometimes gives me the wiggins), I totally forgot about Flock, and my test sessions with Opera had similar results…

    I believe my laptop is to blame for most of my browsing problems, anyway; the poor thing is in serious trouble! So I’m keeping 3.0.4 and hoping for an easy resolution to the character encoding issues that have been bugging the crap out of me since version 3 was released.

  26. Kunal said:
    On January 7, 2009 at 1:52 am

    I use Symantec NAV 2008 on my Vista Home Permium SP1, and found that the problems mentioned here vanished when I turned off NAV.

    I contacted Norton/Symantec support about it, and they provided the solution… upgrade to Norton 2009. Apparently it has a fix for the Firefox 3.x freezing/hanging/not responding issue.

    And it worked! With Symantec Norton Internet Security 2009, at least the hanging and freezing issues have vanished.

    If you’re using Symantec’s 2008 products, it might be worth upgrading to 2009.