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Firefox memory leak crashes every session

  • 37 uphendule
  • 8 zinale nkinga
  • Igcine ukuphendulwa ngu alphaa10000

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Every Firefox session, I use plenty of tabs, stacked atop each other in a vertical bar along the left side of the screen, using an extension named "Tree Style Tab" and its affiliated extension, "Open Link in New Tab" These never caused a problem for me during the first two years of use, but in the last three years or so, Firefox began to eat huge chunks of my memory.

Since I use Tree Style Tab routinely to keep perhaps 30 or so tabs open as I do research, my first thought was something had changed with one or both of the two extensions, and they had developed a problem with using memory efficiently. To test my hypothesis, I simply disabled both by starting Firefox in SafeMode.

Of course, that also disabled every other extension and plug-in, as well, but proved that my problem does not come from any extension or plug-in. Because while in SafeMode, Firefox continued to eat memory at a phenomenal rate until operations became extremely slow and the system finally froze in-place. That is, I began with some 3.1 Gb of physical memory (my 32-bit XP Pro SP3 system retains 1Gb from a total of 4GB), but soon found Firefox was using a whopping 1.7 Gb for only 20 tabs which should have taken no more than perhaps 300Mb, at most.

Yes, I have varied the mix of tabs, so if there were any memory-intensive connection / website, that connection would have stood out plainly. But the same effect is observed no matter how the tab connections are varied.

All my plug-ins and extensions are up-to-date, and Firefox is at version 38. All caches have been cleared.

All Replies (20)

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We're sorry to hear that Firefox is crashing. In order to assist you better, please follow the steps below to provide us crash IDs to help us learn more about your crash.

  1. Enter about:crashes in the Firefox address bar and press Enter. A Submitted Crash Reports list will appear, similar to the one shown below.
  2. Copy the 5 most recent Report IDs that start with bp- and then go back to your forum question and paste those IDs into the "Post a Reply" box.

Note: If a recent Report ID does not start with bp- click on it to submit the report.

(Please don't take a screenshot of your crashes, just copy and paste the IDs. The below image is just an example of what your Firefox screen should look like.)


Thank you for your help!

More information and further troubleshooting steps can be found in the Troubleshoot Firefox crashes (closing or quitting unexpectedly) article.

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Sorry for the late response-- I had lost my own thread, somehow. Below are the five BPs you requested--

bp-d9987100-b12c-4905-b2a0-f21232150629 bp-07966963-7712-4ae6-9537-1f7c12150629 bp-647cdc20-0307-4de6-a6da-eb6a52150629 bp-bad3dac0-4652-4e97-8087-226a72150626 bp-517eb9ab-148a-4434-a7af-7f1af2150623

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After more testing, I have determined FF crashes as described above, and with or without Add-Ons enabled.

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Two of those crashes have this signature - Firefox 38.0.5 Crash Report [@ npswf32_18_0_0_160.dll@0x6de4aa ]. Two were a @Hang related to Flash, and the 5th crash was related to @OOM(small) (Out Of Memory) - you could probably use more RAM.

Try using the Extended Support Release - Flash Player version, which IMO is more appropriate for WinXP. Scroll down the page 3/4 of the way and grab the Windows > Plugin-based --> EXE installer.

Adobe may not like having an older version installed in place of 18.0.0.# - but the later versions of Flash have features that have no value in WinXP and may cause issues. So, grab the Adobe uninstaller from here so you can do a clean installation: fixed link ~J99

Okulungisiwe ngu John99

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Thanks, Ed. As I mentioned, finding the thread of my original posted comment somehow eluded me, although hiding in plain sight in a simple drop-down menu beneath my account name.

ADOBE FLASH PLAYER IMPLICATED IN CRASHES I already had reviewed the BP crash reports implicating Flash, but since I had downloaded and installed successfully the version Adobe recommended, I was at a temporary impasse. Of course, I had first uninstalled (using the latest Adobe uninstaller), then reinstalled Flash Player successfully, according to Adobe.

In any case, Firefox did not report the successfully installed Adobe Flash Player version correctly. In contrast, the current Flash Player version linked by Adobe is correctly reported by Firefox 39.0 as

EXTENDED SUPPORT RELEASE OF ADOBE FLASH PLAYER Your information about the extended support release of Flash Player came as a surprise, especially since I regularly had updated Flash Player according to the link provided by Adobe.

With its XP SP3 users, it would appear Adobe led them into a misadventure with a Flash Player version intended for Vista and later Windows versions, when it should have left them with the safer version

TURNING OFF FLASH PLAYER PROTECTED MODE Looking further into the idea Flash could be the problem, and using the commentary that Mozilla links under Add-Ons, Plug-Ins, Shockwave Flash, Mozilla states the option to turn off Flash Player's protected memory feature can avoid associated hangs and crashes. if you believe turning off protected memory might help with the crashes, I can try that, first.

And if that approach does nothing, I can revert to the Flash Player version, following the procedure you outline. The link to the Adobe uninstaller, by the way, appears to be broken.

IS THE MASSIVE "MEMORY LEAK" FROM A MALFUNCTIONING FLASH? When I load any of my Flash-driven tabs like, I believe I automatically load Flash Player because there is a background video running constantly on the site with "teaser" news segments. Without opening any of the Flash-driven news stories under the CBSNews tab, SysInternals Process Explorer (PE) tab shows a memory leak of about 1.8mb per minute.

Curiously, when I load the CBS site but do not open any of its news stories, PE does not show I have loaded Flash Player, at all. In any case, the memory leak with the tab for is many times larger than when I load only this page.

To quantify the idea Flash Player leaks memory, I loaded first only one tab (this Mozilla page, which did not load Flash, according to PE), and saw no significant memory leak after one hour (actual loss about 2.5mb). Next, I loaded both the Mozilla site and the Flash-driven website, but made sure not to open any of its news stories, and over the next hour watched the Flash tab steadily appropriate about 108mb system memory.

Attached are the four screenshots of the test -- (1) the PE report on memory usage at the beginning of the test run with a single tab and no Flash (2) the PE report at the conclusion of that test run (3) the PE report after loading Flash-driven website but without opening any news stories (4) the PE report at conclusion of that test run

Okulungisiwe ngu alphaa10000

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Limited, but good news, Ed.

As you suggested, I retrodated Adobe Flash Player from back to (Adobe had updated to 302). Now, machine is working much more smoothly, and the memory leak at first appeared completely resolved. However, it later reappeared after several hours of Firefox usage-- the difference is the crashes occur much more slowly, as though the leak is more gradual.

However, most sessions playing Flash on full screen mode eventually will come to an abrupt halt requiring restart of Firefox. The only full-screen sessions which did not crash occurred when I suspended play in order to work on another task. The first sign of a crash was a frozen screen with a white, empty square, usually in the middle, followed by loss of audio. Since I am in full-screen mode, I cannot reach any controls, and must use CTL-ALT-DEL to bring up Task Manager, and shut down Firefox.

In any case, the major achievement is the memory leak has been reduced-- a problem of varying degrees for the past 18 months. Until I posted on this forum and got almost immediate assistance from you, no one at Firefox central had responded to my 30 detailed messages placed in "Firefox Made Me Sad". And by that time, the memory leak had become acute-- as of the update of Flash Player to version, each Firefox session steadily drained memory during as few as two hours until it reached a crisis point of about 1,400mb system memory to run Firefox, alone, with somewhat less memory required for the container. Now, with, Firefox requires only about 540mb, and a container of about 101mb-- even with the same number of tabs open-- to run three to four hours without a crash.

Since you mentioned a RAM limitation (OOM) error, it could be that my 3gb of system memory remains sufficient, but had been exhausted from the memory leak by the time of the OOM crash report. Flash also may surge in its use of system memory, and if required, I am prepared to reduce the number of tabs normally open, as a precaution-- at least as long as I run XP SP3 in 32bit. I do have an XP Pro 64-bit version, however, and plan to install that in order to use all of my installed 6gb of RAM.

Also, as of today, I have disabled protected mode for the Flash plug-in, if only to determine how the system responds (although I don't expect any advantage). Do you suppose that might help with the Flash crashes?

Okulungisiwe ngu alphaa10000

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Thanks, John.

Okulungisiwe ngu alphaa10000

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Just thought I would mention you will not get replies from the feedback when using

Abstracts of the information is appaarently passed on to those interested in it.

Ideally Firefox should not leak memory. But in practice sometimes it does and with leaks from Flashplayer it may be easier to just shut down Firefox and restart. Memory leak are notoriously hard to troubleshoot and if pinned down to Flash player there is probablly little that can be done.

You may find this of interest

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John, I appreciate your confirmation the Firefox feedback option does not reply, however the page does allow users to post their contact information in case someone at Mozilla wants to discuss the matter further.

Early in my problems with Flash crashes, I had discovered the necessity of a periodic restart of any Firefox session. I became an accomplished guesser of how far I could "push" Flash before it became glacially slow, and crashed.

Typically, I used SysInternals Process Explorer to monitor the system as Flash steadily ate available RAM while the session proceeded. As total demand ballooned to 1,400mb, with a 200mb container, out of my total 4gb RAM (32bit XP Pro SP3), I quietly bailed out of the session. That way, I saved the data about open tabs and other session data, as well.

Of course, that never would work in the longer term, and I finally have realized what you stated above-- "Ideally Firefox should not leak memory... (however) memory leaks are notoriously hard to troubleshoot and if pinned down to Flash player there is probably little that can be done. "

At this point, your observation actually confirms my next direction with the problem. As indicated earlier, I have turned off Protected Mode (but as expected, without results in XP), and even uninstalled the current Flash Player version linked by Adobe to my XP Pro SP3 32, installing in its place. Ultimately, however, none of that has changed my situation, although earlier I was hopeful the older version might be the solution when the crashes seemed to stop for a while, and the system became frisky again.

So, the next step is either to go over the Adobe site with extreme care, posting on its forums, and working with what develops, or to leave Flash behind altogether, in hope there is already a viable non-Adobe SWF player, or to wait for the open source "experimental" Shumway SWF renderer to develop into something I can use.

With all that I have been through with Flash for the past 18 months, I would think more people would have posted messages about Flash session cannibalism. Since XP is actually the second most widely-used Windows version, and almost all XP users by now are past SP3 and have patched at least up to April 14, 2014, my problem should be more often reported.

While I look over the Flash alternatives, I'll give Adobe a chance, although Flash has had many problems, and only a few people have gone out of their way to report Flash has been docile and well-behaved.

Thanks for the link to "Firefox uses too much memory (RAM) - How to fix". I'll review that carefully-- as long as I have the hood up, I might as well go all the way.

Okulungisiwe ngu alphaa10000

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Just a few more observations

  • YouTube now offers HTML by default instead of FlashPlayer streams. Those should play right now on Firefox without using Flash Player.
  • about:memory as mentioned in the RAM article does allow you to keep and then diff reports that shows exactly where the memory increase is.
    • It may help identify
      Specific sites that are problems
      Whether it is only FlashPlayer leaking memory
  • A Firefox 64bit version is expected later this year for Windows. It is already available for testing. (If you wish to try it I suggest the Developer edition as that will be a separate install and separate profile and will not conflict with the present Release or any future 64bit upgrade ). Of course no use to you until you upgrade to the 64 bit OS.
  • Developer Edition also has per tab process separation available. Not sure but maybe that could help with the Flash memory issue or t least in future development: (aka electrolysis or e10s )
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Thanks to you and to EdMeister for helpful intervention with this diagnostic process. Since I am not yet running XP Pro 64bit, and for the sake of resolving the mystery, I may continue for a reasonable period with the effort to diagnose the original problem with XP Pro SP3 32.

So far, I have imaged the entire system, and am prepared for a total uninstallation and reinstallation of FF, to begin in a few minutes. After that is complete, and FF is left configured (without using safe mode) to run with no extensions or plug-ins, I plan to run selections associated with prior crashes, while watching Process Explorer to signs of memory leakage. If YouTube's HTML5 approach has no problems, by itself, that will help consolidate the case against Adobe Flash (at least, with my system configuration) or another third-party item.

Once that is completed, I'll add extensions one-by-one to isolate any other problems, and later, add plug-ins one-by-one. Finally, I'll work with FF in its normal configuration, fully repopulated with normal extensions and plug-ins (including Flash). The rationale behind that is, if (somehow, and against the odds) my reinstallation and repopulation of all Add-Ons reveals nothing, perhaps FF was the victim of a bad previous update which simply compounded its problems with later updates. That is the same explanation behind reinstalling a chronically dysfunctional Windows-- and reinstallation usually works.

Meanwhile, I also have read of YouTube's decision to leave Flash behind, and could not support that movement more enthusiastically. As even Adobe admits, it has become a moving target for all kinds of malware, and every update multiplies the chance of a faulty Flash, whether at the Adobe factory door, or in a local installation mishap.

Finally, I'll spend more time with the about:memory documentation, since this gremlin may not disappear so quickly, even after reinstallation. Since the usual problem is local configuration and ultimately the user, I am also prepared to find the finger pointed at myself.

I'll keep you posted, and thanks for the support.

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To my great surprise, the memory leak effect continued with the newly installed Firefox 39.0. This, without any Firefox extensions and without Adobe Flash or Reader installed. Although I could not establish exactly what RAMload should have occurred while viewing (approximately two) tabs for and, the combination of the two sites-- even without Flash to run the video-- was surprisingly high, about 580mb.

My immediate thought was the truckload of advertising links engaged at the and sites was responsible, since even a Flash-driven link would load, despite being unplayable.

Since this test did not involve the usual extensions or Adobe Flash, I also tried aggressively to produce the same RAMload I had experienced with everything (all Firefox Add-ons) installed and active. For example, I opened page after page in a "slideshow" story about aircraft, believing that if anything would provoke excess RAM usage that would. As if in confirmation, when I unloaded all the slideshow pages, my RAMload did not drop to its original pre-slide show starting value, but was about 100mb larger. So, Flash may not be the only problem.

As the next test, I installed two Firefox extensions, Tree Style Tab and Session Manager, but did not notice any significant increase in system burden for either extension after Firefox reboot, or after Session Manager termination.

Something more involved may be happening with Session Manager, and I'll examine it more closely, soon. Meanwhile, I have reinstalled all the other extensions and plug-ins, since I had to resume my daily work. I anticipate I'll begin posting at Adobe, as well.

Okulungisiwe ngu alphaa10000

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Despite Mozilla's decision to block Flash for its current raft of vulnerabilities, I was able to install Flash in Firefox 39.0, and its version displays accurately in the plug-ins check.

During tests, I found I can play Flash on Flash websites without a performance (or excessive RAMload) problem (so far). Of course, that leaves the Flash vulnerabilities open, and now, with no-click, drive-by infections becoming more common, running Flash of any version aggravates the risk. (see note below on XP) and

So, what effect should the Mozilla block have on Flash performance?

  • Yes, I have decided to limit internet use of my XP volume. (I run all post-2000 versions of Windows in a multiboot system)

Okulungisiwe ngu alphaa10000

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Adobe happened to release Flash today, which patches the most recently found vulnerability.

If that version is what you have installed - it doesn't need "Click-to-activate" as it isn't on the blocklist.

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Ed, I have returned to Adobe Flash (for the time being) since the Adobe-offered retrodate alternative did no better.

And I am glad to hear the current Flash is not on the blocklist. But when I installed Flash today, I did get a Click-to-Activate option, whatever that indicates about Adobe's margin of caution.

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Just another thought. Have you considered using multiple Firefox profiles.

Most important user changes to Firefox are changes to the profile. Rather than going through steps to configure and reconfigure before a series of tests, create multiple profiles. At least have one for day to day browsing and one for test purposes.

It is even possible to run two or more instances of Firefox simultaneously but that will only make memory use higher. On the other hand it could help with testing with one instance being restarted regularly and the other left running for a longer test period. I guess 32bit gives an absolute max of 4GB address space and graphics and the System will use some of that.

If interested look at

Just take care. Good practice is to

  • Use the suggested locations.
  • Make backup copies of any important profiles.
    Back up and restore information in Firefox profiles
  • Please Do NOT { Too easy to make costly mistakes !! }
    • Re name profiles or their locations.
    • Nest profiles within others, or use a folder that has other content in it.
    • Delete profiles once created.
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John, I had not considered multiple profiles, since it seemed more direct simply to isolate the memory leak. But after the memory problem manifested without any extensions and third-party plug-ins installed (not merely disabled), I understand the problem may lie deeper.

So, the next measure probably will move at least some operations to XP 64 or later for the sake of better memory utilization. As commented earlier, I already have several Windows versions and their volumes in play.

Thanks for the suggestion about profiles. After years of using Thunderbird, I already have a healthy regard for the internal connections which profiles represent. And I regularly image my work volume, according to Murphy's Law.

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This just in-- before I "pulled the plug" on the current 32bit kingdom, I decided to have one more go at finding the gremlin. As it turns out, I may have it the tail, at last.

Realizing most commercial sites are heavily encrusted with advertiser connections, and these connections often run high-impact video advertising in small, "teaser" windows which steadily drain memory/bandwidth, it now seems obvious these tiny thieves are never actually terminated as long as the website tab is open/available in Firefox. In addition, the teaser windows apparently are not Flash-dependent, which neatly explains how I could continue to leak memory after removing Flash.

Now, it happens that my favorite habit since I began to use the glorious Firefox extension "Tree Style Tab" has been to place at the left side of the screen (in a vertical stack) many a tab to an interesting article for later reading. Tree Style Tab not only permits that, but is made-to-order to minimize the visual burden of having many tabs open/available in Firefox, and for researchers, is a huge and positive advance in multi-threaded research. However, since that more leisurely reading may not occur even the same day, yet another tab is left steadily leaking from what should be ample system memory, until the system finally crashes.

To test the idea, I imaged my current, standard Firefox tab set (190 tabs) in all of 20 seconds (using Session Manager), and then pulled off some 35 or so of the tabs representing the most egregious offenders of advertiser-heavy sites. The result? Now, Instead of lapping at 750mb and going steadily higher in its RAMload until it crashes, my system and its 155 tabs seems stable between 502 and 513mb, and much friskier.

My lesson is that I can "idle" any tab as usual, but that method today has a hidden and mounting cost from significant RAMload/bandwidth drain. Although in the lower-bandwidth days, I could park tabs with relative impunity, over the past three years, webmasters have sold advertising without regard to the burden they impose on visitor systems. Their defense? No one told them not to do it, and since they expect the visitor's undivided attention, what could go wrong? And all because many network news websites have dropped the static, text page-anchor model in favor of streaming a separate news channel.

By now, I truly hesitate to generalize, but this discovery may have revealed where all my memory leakage originated over the past 18 months. It has absolutely nothing to do with faulty coding from any quarter, and is directly the result of my parking tabs under unexpectedly greater RAM/bandwidth-costly conditions.

Both you and EdMeister have been gracious in your assistance, and I hope this has demonstrated something of value to anybody who desires merely to use Firefox on the internet without significant problems.

And by all means, have a look at "Tree Style Tab", and its sibling "Open Link in New Tab", a major contribution to every imaginable task which uses more than two or three tabs. Tree Style Tab provides astonishing leverage to anything from shopping for the best deal on a computer part to following threads of inquiry about medical topics.

Okulungisiwe ngu alphaa10000

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You may find script or ad blockers help with some of those types of problems.

However AdBlockPlus probbly the most popular Firefox addon itself caused Memory leaks recently. Trying to work from bookmarks instead of many open tabs should also ease problems. It is probably worth remembering that even without any additional addon Firefox's open tabs

As it turns out, I may have it by the tail, at last.

Realizing most commercial sites are heavily encrusted with advertiser connections, and these connections often run high-impact video advertising in small, "teaser" windows which steadily drain memory/bandwidth,

Congratulations. Once tracked down at least it is possible to consider if anything may be done as a workaround or solution. Memory leaks are notoriously difficult to troubleshoot so you have done well to persevere and get a result.

Firefox's about:memory as mentioned previously should catch and by diffing the results highlight the sort of leak you are seeing.

Potentially may be worth filing a bug Are any of the sites concerned well known and popular ones where you see a continual memory leak. It may be worth investigating further and considering filing a bug. You did after all start this thread because Firefox was crashing. IF it is the sort of thing that could affect ordinary users and cause crashes it could be worth reporting, but probably not worth it if for instance it is only seen with 20 such tabs open and running continuously for a week.

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