Firefox problems?

Is anyone else having problems with Firefox constantly hanging?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JohnE says:

    I noticed that I was upgraded to v3.5.4 earlier today, but I’m not having any problems.

  2. Tito Edwards says:

    No problems.

    I got updated early this morning.

  3. No. What operating system are you using, Father?

  4. Vincenzo says:

    I did yesterday.

  5. greg the beachcomber says:

    Nope. Running 3.5.4 on a Mac. Now if you were asking about issues like downloading pdfs…

  6. Geremia says:

    No, I 3.5.3 on a Mac, and it works flawlessly (so far).

  7. Yeah. I stopped using Firefox for more than a month after it freezes once in a while so I had to restart it over and over again. I am using Chrome and Opera. But I still check on Firefox once in a while to see if the updates will help. Still nothing.

  8. ray from mn says:

    I have slow loading problems and occasional lockups.

    Is it a sin to swear at a computer?

    I have 3.5.3 on a PC with Windows XP Home.

  9. I haven’t had any problems, but I just upgraded 3.5.4. I don’t know if that’s a problem with the new release. No problems so far on Vista.

  10. Jakub says:

    The same as ray from mn…

  11. Tito Edwards says:

    Will have to admit, Chrome makes most sites look sharper than they really are.

  12. hgb says:

    I use Chrome because it loads faster than any browser I have tried.

  13. Steve K. says:

    I use mostly Safari 4.0.3 on a Mac (at home), though today I had to use Firefox 3.5.3 because a certain site wouldn’t display right in Safari. At work (ahem) I use the latest Firefox. As regards this site, both at work and to a lesser extent at home I noticed hanging when I load this site. It can be bad sometimes, but not always. This is both FF and Safari – I assume it’s some applet that’s trying to pull data from somewhere that causes the delay, but who knows. It’s worse at work but then the work network and workstations are crap as far as performance goes anyway, due to being overloaded with security features.

  14. Steve K. says:

    I am waiting for the release of the Chrome for the Mac – I have tried it on the PC and like it a lot. I have Vista installed on my MacBook which I occasionally (am forced) to use under VMWare and Fusion and have started using Chrome there. I expected Mac Chrome by now, wonder when it is going to come out?

  15. ray from mn says:

    Fr. Cory


    You have the idea, but “crap” is not the word that accompanies an explosion of my “precious bodily fluids” when Firefox doesn’t meet my expectations.

  16. Yes, in both Windows XP and Mac OS.

  17. Timbot2000 says:

    If it helps Father,

    ran into some problems on the previous version of FF, whole program slowed down to a crawl, would hang for up to 2 min opening any page, new version works fine though.

  18. PhilipNeri says:

    I’ve been having this problem too. Switch to Chrome. Same problem. Turned out to be the Shockwave Flash plug-in. I disable it in add-ons menu and all is well. This means no Z-Cam though!

    Fr. Philip, OP

  19. Bryan says:

    No problem here on FF 3.5.4 on XP Professional latest patch level, even with Flash enabled.

  20. mpm says:

    I am using FireFox 3.5.4, but I experienced the same thing with 3.5.3. Fr. Philip says “Turned out to be the Shockwave Flash plug-in”. Shockwave may be the culprit, but…

    I am using a computer I bought in Feb, 2000, running Win2000 “professional” with numerous “uptdates”, etc., ad nauseam. Physically, I have only 256MB “jogging along” at 700MH. Thus I have a very low performance old fashioned setup. So, I can actually read the various messages on the status bar at the bottom of the browser when I load WDTPRS.

    Many of the messages relate to “Shockwave” downloads.

    However, I think the basic problem may relate to caching, whether potential Shockwave files, or even just history. The amount of physical memory used when Firefox is started up is about 35-40MB. Once I start loading websites (even without using “tabs”) that will start moving up toward the 120-150MB range, especially if I browse sites containing various multimedia widgets (WDTPRS, NLM, every lousy newspaper site in the universe, etc.).

    Frequently, multimedia files once played, are retained in virtual memory, in case the user wishes to replay them. That takes memory, and is cumulative, which can result in bad/slow performance overall for one’s system.

    I have found it helpful every few days to delete all “history” using the menu-item “History/Show all history”, and then highlighting and deleting.

    I also notice “music” playing at a very low volume sometimes on WDTPRS, and the Shockwave messages are flying along. This is usually right after loading the main page, while Shockwave files are being requested and received.

  21. PhilipNeri says:

    MPM, now, translate that into English for us Luddites…


    Fr. Philip, OP

  22. There is one disadvantage to Chrome right now. Many e-commerce vendors and banks do not yet recognize it. You could end up getting a security alert and locked out of your online banking services. Periodic optimizing of your hard drive never hurts, and if you have your PC for over a year, you might try loading more memory.

    I use mostly Firefox on the Mac, and I may switch back to it from Chrome on the PC.

  23. mpm says:

    Fr. Philip,

    I hear you! LOL. Let me try again.

    1) WRT WDTPRS, when you first load the site, after you are able to view articles, the “page” requests additional data from “”. It then waits for the data, and may request more, wait more, etc.

    All the data needs to be stored somewhere on your machine. All of that may be behind the experienced “slowness” or “hangedness” of one’s machine. When you disabled Shockwave, I think you short-circuited those requests, so your performance “improved”, but as you said, with the other effect that “no Z-Cam”.

    2) Likewise, if you allow the “history” functionality to carry on unabated, it may be that FireFox works in the background to find the various files and servers and data listed there. I don’t know this for a fact, it is just a possibility. This is called “caching”. What is certain is that when you look in history, all of that data (the names of places, files, etc., must itself be loaded into FireFox, and if history is long, that can take a while (especially if those “locations” are verified as “still valid” by making calls to them to see if they are still there).

    If you delete “history” all of that functionality is reduced, and while it will again begin to accumulate, performance will appear to improve in the meantime. On more capable systems than mine, this may not be apparent, at least for a very long time. Eventually, though, it may catch up with one’s system, and make the system appear to be running “slowly” (just because it is doing more work).

    3) I believe FireFox is written in Java. Java has a memory reclamation system that only the Java runtime controls (this is by design), and when it needs more memory it just starts doing what techies call “garbage collection (GC)” so that it can reclaim that unused memory for productive purposes. When a large GC is undertaken, the whole system can seem like it is “hanging”, until all the swapping and reinitialization is complete, etc.

    Bottom line: (1) Some things cannot be controlled (Java GC); (2) Some gadgets can be disabled (the Philips Solution); and (3) Some functionality of FireFox can be controlled (via the Options or History menus).

    Since (2) and (3) are left to the user, some experimentation by the user may be “helpful”. It might also be that the “server” functionality can be changed to provide services in a more user-controlled fashion (this would be up to Fr. Z in consultation with his helpers), but that is not an “a priori” question.

  24. mpm says:

    manwithblackhat said “Periodic optimizing of your hard drive never hurts”.

    Absolutely. I would have mentioned this too, but thought that might just further confuse what I was saying.

    As a global function, every O/S allows users to run “hard-drive optimization” utilities (usually supplied with the O/S) that will de-fragment storage, etc. Since “virtual memory” is comprised of both “physical memory” and “hard-disk storage” (backing-store, as its called), which enables data to be swapped in and out of physical memory, optimizing one’s hard-drive is highly recommended.

    Since it is recommended that the system be relatively inactive when de-fragmentation is performed, it is a good idea to schedule this task, say once a month overnight.

    This will help performance not just of the browser, but of the entire system.

  25. GOR says:

    I’m not sure if mine is the same problem, but I am getting a rash of “Firefox Can’t Find the Server” messages of late. Sometimes it is at start up of Firefox (“Mozilla can’t find its own server…???”). Other times this occurs when I am already on a site and just moving from one screen to another (“What do you mean you can’t find the server? You were already there, dammit!”).

    I sometimes feel this is AOL messing with me because I am not using IE – even though I have designated Firefox as the ‘Preferred Browser’. Any ideas mpm…?

  26. Steve K. says:

    mpm – Firefox is written in Java? I had no idea, and am rather surprised. Learn something new everyday!

  27. PhilipNeri says:

    So, MPM, if I understand you correctly, the best solution to this problem is fasting, prayer, and maybe a small animal sacrifice?

    I discovered that cursing, shoe-throwing, and bribery do not work. Computers are horribly unreasonable.

    Fr. Philip, OP

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