Q: Can you tell me what causes Google chrome or Firefox to have numerous crashes while online? - Nathaniel
A: The web browser has become the single most important piece of software on our computers because it's the gateway to everything on the Internet.
Browsers are the ‘swiss army knife' of software on your computer; they have to constantly improve their capabilities and performance to keep up with the advances on the Internet while fending off the relentless attempts to be exploited by malicious groups around the world.
The browser is ubiquitous and allows hackers to exploit users without regard to which operating system (Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc.) they're running, which is why it has become such a big target.
A common method for improving the performance and security of your browser is through what are called ‘extensions' or ‘add-ons' which are additional software programs that change how the browser works.
A number of browser crashes that we see in our service business are as a result of these additional components that have been added over time.
Extensions and add-ons can conflict with one another or can simply be poorly written code that cause instability in your browser.
The quickest way to see if an add-on or extension is causing a stability problem is to start your browser without any of them (often referred to as ‘safe mode').
To temporarily disable all add-ons in Internet Explorer, click the Start button / All Programs / Accessories / System Tools and then click ‘Internet Explorer (No Add-ons)'.
Firefox users can simply hold down the Shift key while clicking on the Firefox icon to launch the Safe Mode options window and then click on the ‘Continue in Safe Mode' button at the bottom.
Chrome users can try launching an ‘incognito window' to see if the crashing is being caused by an extension. Click on the icon of the wrench (upper right corner or Ctrl+Shift+N) to open a window that will disable the extensions.
If the crashes continue in these diagnostic modes, you either have corruption in the browser itself or have a bigger issue with a corrupted operating system. You can try uninstalling the browser and reinstalling with the latest version from the Internet, but if that doesn't work, you should seek technical assistance.
If you don't experience crashing while in ‘safe' or ‘incognito' mode, you know that one of the extensions added to your browser is causing the crashes.
You can then try disabling the various extensions one at a time to figure out which one is causing the problem.
In Internet Explorer, press the Alt key to activate the menu, then click on Tools / Manage Add-ons to disable the various add-ons.
In Firefox, click on the Tools menu, then on Add-ons to access the extensions and plugins that you have installed.
In Chrome, click on the icon of the wrench, then on Tools / Extensions to disable the various installed extensions.
We have always advised that all Internet users have multiple browsers installed to help you shorten the process of troubleshooting when a problem occurs.
If you experience crashes in multiple browsers, then the problem is likely with your operating system; if you only experience crashing in a specific browser, then the problem most likely resides within that browser.