Why Firefox Freezes When Opening Web Pages

By Elizabeth Mott

Mozilla Firefox competes for market share with other browser products.
i Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox have become an indispensable part of daily business life, helping you to check information as diverse as the news or your bank balance. When your browser software develops unreliable habits -- freezing as it attempts to display websites or specific Web pages -- your ability to scope out your competitors or download software updates comes to a halt. To troubleshoot these problems, examine browser components, tasks and processes.

Incompatible Add-Ons

Mozilla Firefox uses an extensible architecture that allows developers to create add-on modules, so the browser performs new tasks or accomplishes familiar objectives in new ways. If your installation of Firefox includes an incompatible add-on -- for example, one that's too new or too old for your version of the browser software -- its presence may interfere with the application's ability to open basic website pages. You can hold down the "Shift" key when you start Firefox to launch it in Safe mode, bypassing your add-ons, to see if the problem persists with them disabled.

Incompatible Plug-Ins

Unlike Firefox add-ons, plug-ins provide third-party technologies that play back multimedia files and help the browser to display websites coded in patented technologies. Plug-ins include Adobe Flash, Windows Media Player, Java and other formats that support websites coded using these assets. Without these plug-ins, Firefox can't load pages or files that require them. If your plug-in versions fall out of date, or the sites you visit that use them don't provide well-formed code, Firefox may freeze when it tries to process content that relies on them.

Complex JavaScripts

Web programmers rely on complex JavaScripts to support the use of cascading style sheets, or CSS, and many page functions that add interactivity to your website visit. If these scripts use poorly written code, they may cause Firefox to freeze when it attempts to parse them. Pages with exceptionally heavy use of JavaScript may appear to freeze and trigger a warning indicating that the page content includes slow-running scripts. You can stop these scripts or allow them to continue.

Hardware Acceleration

Using a process known as hardware acceleration, Firefox can rely on your graphics processing unit, or graphics card, to help speed the processing of loading Web content. If your card or its drivers don't support this process, you may see hangs and crashes when you load website pages or text. Updating your video drivers may help you to use hardware acceleration successfully. Otherwise, you must disable it from the Firefox button at the top of the screen. Select "Options," access the "Advanced" panel and choose the "General" tab to reach the "Use hardware acceleration when available" check box so you can deactivate it.

Version Information

Information in this article applies to Mozilla Firefox 17 on Windows 7. Your experience may differ with other versions or products.