Firefox memory leak
November 6, 2008 10:15 PM   Subscribe

If I leave a firefox window open for a long time (all day, for instance) an explorer window will pop up telling me my computer is low on memory and that I need to close firefox. When I open task manager it's consuming hundreds of MBs of memory. When I close it and reopen it, it's back down to about 75 MBs. I thought they had fixed memory leaks in a previous version. Is there any way to avoid this? (I've got 2GB RAM)
posted by Autarky to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What OS are you running?
posted by Class Goat at 10:19 PM on November 6, 2008

I love Firefox but let's face it, many of the releases have problems. Mine crashed hard 3 times today while i wasn't even focused on the window.

That said, what add-ons are you running? They can often be the culprit in things like this. Also, is there any certain site you're habitually leaving open? Flash can be a memory hole when coded poorly.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:25 PM on November 6, 2008

Response by poster: I'm running Vista. I don't have very many addons (Better GMail, BugMeNot, download status bar, foxmarks, etc.)

I tend to leave a GMail tab open most of the time, but nothing other than that, really.
posted by Autarky at 10:30 PM on November 6, 2008

I think Firefox caches web pages to memory for fast retrieval.
So it might be a feature rather than a flaw.
posted by MetaPenguin at 10:42 PM on November 6, 2008

Best answer: Googled bit and found this:

That sounds exactly like how Firefox acts on Ubuntu. The problem arrises from websites using flash content with wmode="transparent" (you cannot see the flash player in Gmail - it is used only as a sound API).

Basically, you need to turn off chat in Gmail, or use Safari.... :P

posted by drjimmy11 at 10:54 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

I've used Firefox for years, so I am very aware of the crashing issues. About 2 weeks ago I did a clean install with no plugins or add-ons, not even adblock. Not a crash since. Although flash does eat up a bunch of memory from time to time.
posted by parallax7d at 11:25 PM on November 6, 2008

I had similar problems that were solved by uninstalling the Skype extension -- maybe that (or some other badly coded extension).
posted by Omission at 11:33 PM on November 6, 2008

This piece on Firefox 3 and memory leaks, written by one of Mozilla's software engineers, may be of interest to you. He seems to think the problems have been mostly fixed, though.

I have similar issues to you on OS X and end up re-starting the browser every couple of days. The only extension I have is Firebug and I don't use GMail, but I do suspect the problem is caused/exasperated by flash (and seems to persist even after flash-using websites are closed).

Wish I could be more helpful, but I'll be watching this thread with interest.
posted by Georgina at 1:06 AM on November 7, 2008

Disable all of your add-ons and see if you still have the problem. If not then re-enable them one by one until you find the culprit.
posted by Ookseer at 3:06 AM on November 7, 2008

Are you using Roboform? That caused a lot of problems for me when I used Gmail, for example. I'd get several spikes of 200mb jumps before it crashed.
posted by Solomon at 4:00 AM on November 7, 2008

FWIW, for apps that need to run all day long (gmail, g-calendar, and google reader), I tend to run them in Google's Chrome browser. The process isolation seems to keep them from going bananas and eating all my ram up / stepping on each other's toes.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:53 AM on November 7, 2008

I have FF3.0 open pretty much all day using Gmail and probably 20-30 extensions. It tops out at around 180mb, usually lower, and is very stable. If Flash is the culprit, my stability can probably be attributed to the FlashBlock extension. I'd recommend it to everyone whether you're having memory/crashing issues or not.
posted by jluce50 at 6:35 AM on November 7, 2008

I don't have very many addons (Better GMail, BugMeNot, download status bar, foxmarks, etc.)

Based on that statement I would disagree. You do have many addons, and normally they would be the culprits (if the gmail chat thing doesn't work).
posted by blue_beetle at 7:39 AM on November 7, 2008

You highlighted the Google Chat suggestion, so I am guessing you took the advice. I just wanted to chime in and let you know that you can just as easily disable to sound in your Gmail settings, which will disable the flash object as well, keeping chat.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 7:54 AM on November 7, 2008

Another vote saying that 20-30 extensions is not unusable, and "Better GMail, BugMeNot, download status bar, foxmarks, etc." sounds a very frugal lifestyle.
posted by Idcoytco at 8:06 AM on November 7, 2008

I have 32 add-ons installed (which I thought was pretty usual), and used to have this problem from time to time. I upgraded to Minefield - a beta version of Firefox, but stable in my experience - and since then I've been leaving the browser open for days on end.
posted by jack_mo at 8:59 AM on November 7, 2008

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