Debugging Firefox Problems

Firefox is a great browser, perhaps the best around but sometimes like any application you can experience problems.

Here are some sources of help on things to try that might solve a problem.

First your computer is running ok right with no other operating system or application problems. Check the previous blog entry on Windows troubleshooting and also previous entries on doing anti-virus and anti-spyware scans to keep your system healthy. Applications can have problems if they are running in a toxic environment. Up to date security software that is run regularly is essential to maintain a healthy system and preferably a hardware firewall/router is installed especially if you have a broadband connection to the Internet.

One of the strengths of Firefox are addons but these programs might be the cause of a problem. A useful addon that provides a list of all the addons installed can be found at:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/447 (InfoLister).
It can be a good idea to install this infolister addon so you can easily see what software you are running with Firefox and also send this information to your computer guru (or use Google) to determine if there are any known addon problems. A Google search of the addon name and “problem” can sometimes be revealing.

A quicker way to test if the problem is with Firefox or addons is to use Firefox safe mode. This isn’t Windows safe mode which is used to turn off extensions to the operating system – Firefox safe mode just runs Firefox without any addons. The instructions for running Firefox safe mode under different operating systems are at:
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Safe_mode
If you still have a problem after running Firefox in safe mode then try updating Firefox to the latest (non-beta) version. Each update provides new fixes and security patches so that might be the fix you needed. If you already have the latest version sometimes a reinstall can clear corrupted files.

If your problem isn’t fixed by a fresh version of Firefox you may have a profile corruption problem. A fresh install still tries to use your old profile information so you don’t lose your preference settings. Creating a new profile as described at:
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_Manager#Creating_a_new_profile ,
though that process can be a bit complicated and involves re-establishing your preferences.

In case there might be a possibility of conflicts with other non-browser programs you could try running Firefox in safe mode and also your operating system in safe mode with networking. Check the previous blog entry on Windows troubleshooting for safe mode instructions for the Windows operating system.
You still have problems?! Well maybe it is a documented bug that just hasn’t been fixed yet.
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Firefox_hangs
might be able to point you in the right direction, but it’s a pretty long list. Most software has lots of documented bugs and the kind that are special situations that don’t affect a lot of people may not get fixed as fast. It may be possible to do what you want through some workaround. Less than ideal but it might help avoid frustration until the fix arrives.

You still have problems (with Firefox) and you’ve checked that it isn’t a previously reported problem then it is time to report a bug to Mozilla using the instructions they provide:
http://www.mozilla.org/support/firefox/bugs

If you still have Firefox problems then you probably want to try your luck with another browser.

Thanks to Gavin Sharp who was the source for these tips except the last one.

One thought on “Debugging Firefox Problems”

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