When Firefox is not behaving correctly, use safe mode...

Posted by Dan on Jul 7, 2006 @ 1:44 PM

At work, I had a client who was having problems with our website crashing Firefox. Suspecting a problem with an extension, the first step I had the person do was to disable all their plug-ins—thinking that would be enough to determine if an extension was causing the problem. While, I learned the hard way that just disabling an extension won't necessary make Firefox behave like the extension isn't installed.

After some basic troubleshooting, I discovered the browser would crash any time a window.close() method was called (self.close() caused the same behavior.) Once again, I really suspected this had to be an extension issue. This time I had the client start Firefox in "safe mode". Sure enough, everything began working as expected.

I knew the client was using an extension called "Tabbrowser Extensions 2.1.2006031301". My original gut instinct was it was this extension that was causing the crashing. However, like I stated, I assumed just disabling the extension would get rid of any side effects it might be introducing. This was wrong. I think the reason why disabling this extension didn't avoid the problem, was because the extension loads a preference file that overwrites normal Firefox configuration options and that simply disabling the extension doesn't prevent the preference file from being loaded. After uninstalling the extension, their browser started working correctly.

So, what did we learn?

  1. If Firefox is behaving unexpectedly, boot Firefox in safe mode as the first step in troubleshooting.

    From Start > Run, type:
    "%ProgramFiles%\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" -safe-mode

  2. Disabling an extension is not the same as not having it installed.
Categories: JavaScript, qForms, HTML/ColdFusion

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