Monday, February 11, 2008

Internet Browser Crashing

Update:
It now appears re-installing Java did not fix my problems. My crashes are back and they are worse than ever. I'm beginning to think it may be a hardware problem. I booted with a Knoppix Linux CD and tried Firefox from there. It also crashed multiple times.

Original Post:
For many months I have suffered from an unstable Windows XP. Firefox, IE, Safari, Opera, Thunderbird, Windows Media Player, QuickBooks, and every other program that dared attempt to access the internet would periodically crash (Microsoft Debug Window) or simply just disappear. If I attempted to debug using Visual Studio 7.1 or 8, Visual Studio would crash with a Microsoft Debug Window (not very helpful). I looked in the event viewer many times but never found anything. I ran many different kinds of virus and spyware removal tools. Nothing could be found to fix my problems. I, of course, Googled my problem many times and never found anything.

The most annoying thing was doing my online banking (and having the browser crash while trying to purchase something). I was unable to access Bank of America from any browser except Safari. Safari would also crash, just less often. Other browsers might work for a few pages but would always crash more often than Safari. IE was the worse. I could hardly go to any pages without IE crashing. Firefox (my browser of choice) was mostly stable. It however would crash multiple times a day. This was bearable because Firefox would restart exactly where I left it with all my tabs ready to go.

I kept telling myself that I would re-install Windows XP when my current project ended. I didn't want to risk making it worse since I use VSClient and VNC everyday to access a remote computer for work. VNC never crashed.

However, the other day I started doing my taxes. I have used TurboTax online for many years. So I fire up Firefox and access TurboTax only to have it crash almost immediately. Same for Safari. Ugh! It was the straw that broke the camels back. I dug out my Windows XP CD and kicked off a re-install. Hours later, I finally have Windows XP reinstalled. This was after having to call Microsoft to activate Windows XP since the activation window crashed trying to access the internet. Not a good sign. And as you may have guessed by now, this didn't help one bit. The only difference I saw was that the icons in Bloglines have now disappeared; replaced with the text 'expand folder' and 'collapse folder'.

Now I'm really frustrated. I just knew the re-install of Windows XP would fix the problem. At this point I'm starting to think the only remedy will be to start from scratch with a clean install of Windows XP (or maybe Linux). However, I use Visual Studio and QuickBooks and other Windows only applications.

Back to Googling. I ran across this site: IE crashes at certain web-sites. It recommends re-installing Java. So I follow their link and grab Java and re-install it. This seems to fix most, but not quite all, of my problems. I can now access TurboTax and Bank of America from Firefox without it ever crashing.

I re-installed Java about a week ago. Firefox has only crashed on me twice since then. Thunderbird has crashed a few times (this might not be related, not sure). QuickBooks now can access the internet (very important since I had to register it). Windows Media Player has not crashed since. And IE seems to actually work now. I use Firefox almost exclusively, however. So I think I'm mostly back to normal. I assume other folks have a few crashes here and there.

1 comment:

Justin said...

One of my machines seemed to do this too for a 6 months or so. Over that time I installed new versions of Java, Drivers, got a new video card (for games, not to fix crashing), uninstalled vsclient, and used nortel vpn instead, etc.

I don't know what fixed the problem, but eventually it did go away completely.

I use IE7 for the most part, although I also occasionally use firefox. For example, webex never seems to work from IE with the nortel client, and firefox never works with vsclient. However, I hate the way webex works in Firefox. The GUI is tied to the browser, and if you close firefox you kill any active webex session.

Btw, my primary home machine is Vista, and it's always worked without any problems. Performance is much better than XP in ways that matter (prioritized I/O, superfetch, etc.).