Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Firefox on Windows 7 64-bit may run into difficulties from extra add-ons and need a reinstall. As far as safety? You are the one in control of that.

Hi, Leo. Ever since getting a Windows 7, 64-bit system, Firefox acts weird. It hangs up intermittently, cross scripting problems, missing buttons and showing up like a squished box in the middle of the page - all on important sites (like with most shopping carts) and airline sites like Delta.com, trying to print tickets. I have the latest version, 17.0.1. Now I read that Mozilla has trashed Firefox X64 development. I don't trust Google or IE for important stuff because I have the impression that they spy on you or are prone to evil hacking. Am I wrong? Is there a Firefox work around? Is there a better browser for X64? Thanks for any help you can render.

In this excerpt from Answercast #88, I look at some problems in a Firefox install and whether or not Firefox is safer than other browsers.

Firefox on Windows 7 64-bit

So my bottom line recommendation for browsers, these days, is any of the big three: Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox will work just fine.

Now, you're having problems with Firefox. I get that.

How many bits?

One issue that I want to be clear about is that you don't need a 64-bit browser to run on Windows 64. The 32 bit versions of all of the browsers (including Internet Explorer, which is one that tends to come with a 64-bit version on some systems) are fine.

Just use the 32-bit version. You'll be fine. It's exactly what I do. I have the 32 bit versions of IE, Chrome and Firefox all installed on my machine and it all works just fine.

Reinstall Firefox

What I would have you do for Firefox, if you want to stick with it, is completely remove it. Even go so far as to use Revo Uninstaller to uninstall Firefox and all traces of Firefox. Then reinstall it from scratch.

I'm willing to bet that that's going to clear up a majority of the problems that you're having.

Firefox add-ons

I'd also be very wary about adding any additional add-ons to the program. It is possible that add-ons could be causing some of the issues you're facing right now.

It might even be worthwhile, before uninstalling it, in spending a few minutes and disable all add-ons. See if that makes any difference to your experience at all.

Spying browsers?

Do Chrome and IE spy on you. No, they don't... you're just not that interesting.

You know, people have a very, very inflated sense of just how much spying is really going on. They are spying on you no more, and no less, than Firefox is. I'll put it that way.

In my opinion all three, like I said, are safe to use. Are they prone to evil hacking? Well... so is Firefox. No more so than Firefox; I'll put it that way.

Protect your system

If anything it's your system that tends to be prone to hacking - and that's really more in your control than anything else:

  • Make sure you're practicing safe computing practices;

  • Use up to date anti-malware tools;

  • Have a firewall installed;

  • Do not install random downloads.

You get the idea. The things that we so commonly list as "the things you need to do to stay safe on the internet."

So ultimately, I would not have a problem with you reinstalling Firefox and in my opinion if Firefox doesn't work for you, I would be totally and completely comfortable switching to Chrome or Internet Explorer.

Like I said, I use Chrome all day long and I just don't have a concern from a privacy or a spying standpoint whatsoever.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

End of Answercast #88 Back to - Audio Segment

Article C6254 - January 17, 2013 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

4 Comments
gregwashere2
January 17, 2013 11:38 AM

Waterfox is for 64-bit Win7

Daniel Lauber
January 18, 2013 9:46 AM

Leo is absolutely right -- go with FireFox 32-bit (now in version 18). Follow Leo's advice about uninstalling FireFox. I have found, however, that a really old profile can slow down FireFox (FF) and introduce kinky behavior. Once you install the 32-bit FF and it doesn't run as well as you want, try the following to rejuvenate your profile (it's lengthy and detailed).

Here goes:

Make a list of the add-ons (extensions and appearance) you have installed. You might want to download the latest versions of each add-on to a directory on your hard drive for installing after you rebuild your profile. With earlier versions of FireFox, you can use the extension "InfoLister" to create the list. In FF 17, go to Help, and then Troubleshooting Information which instantly gives you a list of your extensions (and Important Modified Preferences). Print the list - you'll want it later when you reinstall your add-ons.

Now, here are two alternatives from which to choose. The first one, we did not do, but I realize in retropsect that it may work for folks and save you a lot of time. The second one is what we did, albeit it is more time consuming.

First, however, take a screen shot of your FireFox window so you know where you like the various icons to be placed. Print it.

Before doing either of these, you should go into your Add-Ons Manager and export settings for all of the extensions that allow you to. This way when you recreate your profile, you can simply import the settings. There will be a lot of extensions that don't allow you to do this. You should write down the settings for each of them so you don't have to reinvent the wheel in your new profile (or take screen shots).

If you don't already have them, install the FEBE and CLEO extensions (available at http://softwarebychuck.com/ ). CLEO combines nearly all of your extensions (xpi files) into a single xpi file with which to reinstall nearly all of your extensions after you have cleaned up your profile according to the instructions that follow below. Now some extensions will not be included -- you'll have to install those separately. And I caution that the process might not work as well as the second alternative I'm about to describe. But this first alternative can save you a few hours if you have a lot of extensions installed. I must caution, however, that I didn't do this with the existing extensions in our profiles because I didn't think of it. But it might work well for you (assuming that the extension xpi files are fine and I can't think of any reason for them not to be).

The second alternative which is the one that we actually used will require you to individually reinstall each extension -- but if you exported the settings for those that allow it, you can easily import those settings and save a lot of time. In this alternative you simply don't use CLEO to create the single xpi file of extensions and you just plan to reinstall those you want one by one.

Whichever alternative you use, the remaining steps are pretty much the same:

(1) From the Help Menu, select "Troubleshoot Information." Then click (in the upper right hand corner) the "Reset FireFox" button. This brings up a small window that tells you what is saved when you reset FireFox (cookies, bookmarks, browsing history, saved passwords, saved form history). Click on the "reset FireFox" button and a new profile will be created without any add-ons. This creates a new profile without an add-ons.

(2) Reinstall your add-ons one by one making sure that none of them slow down your now very speedy FireFox. Alternatively if you used the first option and created a single xpi file of extensions with CLEO, install that file. Hopefully, none of these extensions will slow down FireFox. It's a risk, but it does save hours if you have lots of extensions.

(3) Import the settings you saved for the extensions that allowed you to export them. Adjusst the settings in the other extensions.

(4) Recreate the appearance you want in FireFox by going to the View Menu and selecting the Toolbars you want and by clicking on "Customize" to place icons where you want them.

This procedure should enable you have the speedy FireFox to which you had grown accustomed.

Hans
January 18, 2013 2:15 PM

I'll join gregwashere2: I have been using Waterfox 64-bits since I use Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bits, and it works just fine. Same touch and feel as Firefox, but some add-ons might not work. Never had a problem so far.

banertd
February 2, 2013 4:20 AM

I use Mozilla Nightly for Windows 7x64.Work's great.Browser is identical with Firefox.Might be freely called Firefox for 64bit systems.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.