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

IE9 is a fairly safe upgrade for most, but not all. I'll look at what affects the odds and discuss your options.

I just received an email from Windows Update to install IE9 because of a security issues. Do you recommend installing IE9? I am very comfortable with IE8.

If you actually got an email, I wouldn't click on any links in it and I'd delete that email.

Windows Update doesn't distribute updates or information via email.

However, you do raise an important question that I've been seeing a lot lately.

Is it time to upgrade to IE9?

In some circumstances, I'd say sure. But in others ... well, you might not want to - at least not without some additional precautions.

Internet Explorer 9

IE9 works fine. IE9 causes problems.

I regularly hear from both sides of this argument.

"IE9 works for most people. Honestly, I think it's a fairly safe upgrade, but..."

For example, I've upgraded several machines to IE9 without a single hiccup. It was working, it is working, and life goes on.

On the other hand, I do hear from people who upgrade to IE9 and experience all sorts of odd problems and downright failures - not only in IE, but in technically unrelated programs, such as their mail program.

So in the face of those kinds of conflicting reports, it's hard to make a blanket recommendation at this time.

Instead, I'll make three.

Install IE9

If you are setting up a new machine, have just received a new machine, or are reinstalling Windows Vista or 7, then my take is this: go for it.

IE9 seems to do best when the system that you're putting it on is relatively clean. It should not have a lot of software installs nor multiple years of patches. It should just be fundamentally stable from the start.

IE9 will take advantage of some hardware acceleration that IE8 and prior versions don't, and could provide you with a generally faster, better, cooler web experience. Being the latest version of IE at this writing, it'll also be the version that will be supported more completely and for a longer time than any other.

There are some UI changes that confuse people at times, but by and large, when it works, IE9 works well.

And a clean machine gives you the best chance that it will.

Don't install IE9

First, if you're running Windows XP, this is your only option. IE9 is not available for Windows XP.

It might be wise to avoid IE9 if your machine had Windows Vista or 7 installed years ago or if it has been through only upgrades, service packs or Windows Updates for all that time. It might also be wise to skip IE9 if you've been regularly installing and uninstalling lots of different software.

If you had a malware infection that you "cleaned up" without reinstalling Windows, I'd also hesitate with IE9. Even when removed, malware often leaves traces that can impact other software, and in particular, Internet Explorer. That's one of the reasons why I often say that the only way to be sure that malware has been completely removed is to reinstall.

Now, none of this is to say that these are the only predictors of IE9 problems - or that they even guarantee that you will have a problem. It's a matter of probability and these are the types of things that stack the deck against a successful upgrade.

If you're really itching to get IE9, but your machine is kind of a mess, it might be a good excuse to do that backup, reformat, and reinstall. That's something that many folks, including myself, feel is just a good idea to do periodically anyway.

Install IE9 but...

In all honesty, most people aren't at either extreme. Machines are used "some", they're not pristine, but neither are they a horrible mess.

That makes the decision harder.

So, I'll put it this way:

  • There's nothing that says you must upgrade to IE9, yet. If IE8 is working and working well, why tempt fate? As the old saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

  • If you do want to upgrade, take a full system image backup first. There's nothing at all wrong with upgrading and, for many if not most, it'll just work. But in case your machine happens to be one on which IE9 will have problems on, there's nothing quite like a full system backup to make it all go away. (Though you can try uninstalling first.)

IE9 works for most people. Honestly, I think it's a fairly safe upgrade, but I hear of enough problems from people that it's clear that approaching IE9 with some caution is wise. As we've seen, waiting is an option, but so is simply making sure that you can revert back to IE8 if you encounter issues.

Article C4841 - June 9, 2011 « »

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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?

June 10, 2011 12:17 PM

Bottom line, I personally didn't like what IE9 had to offer, so I was able to restore to IE8. Sure, I'm told that eventually there will be no more support for IE8 and I should simply bite the bullet and get used to IE9. Fine, when that time comes, so be it. Until then, it's like buying a car in it's first production year. I'll wait, thank you, until the major bugs have been worked out. No bugs? Right! Talk about naiveté.
"FEATURES are just bugs with seniority."

June 10, 2011 12:22 PM

I forgot to include that Windows Update notification INSISTS that I must install IE9. Sure, I can ignore it, but the notification just won't go away. Which makes me wonder just why is MS insisting so hard to update right now.
And I've noticed that Windows Updates, ignored long enough, will switch to Automatic Update, my preference notwithstanding.

Depends on what notification you mean, but the line item can be hidden in Windows Update. I wrote up a new article on that: How do I ignore a Windows Update item?

H. Rogers
June 14, 2011 8:47 AM

I've tried IE9 on my Vista Home Premium (did a Restore Point first before installing). It caused my Windows Mail to become impossible to use!
I restored the registry with the Restore Point. Everything is back to normal. Good old IE8!
However, I installed IE9 on my laptop (Win7 Home Premium 64 bit) and it works beautifully. No problems!

David C.
June 14, 2011 8:52 AM

Leo, if a user subscribes; MS will send security bulletins concerning updates (as well as issues and fixes) - granted I've not seen a 'demand' to update and would be suspicious of email from MS if it deviates from security bulletin format. Also, the 64-bit/32-bit hardware may be a reason to not to commit to IE9.
Thanks for the knowledge, David

Glenn C.
June 14, 2011 9:12 AM

Printing from IE9 is not working at all, so I use Chrome whenever I need to print something from a browser. Seems like a pretty basic thing they should have caught before releasing it. I like the look and feel otherwise.

The system is a one year old Compaq desktop that came with Win 7 Home Premium installed. No problems with IE8.

Col. S. Buddy Harris
June 14, 2011 9:49 AM

I installed IE9 Beta and it was a disaster. I deleted it in less than 12 hours. Just this past week I reinstalled IE9 commercial version and it is without problems.

Al Taylor
June 14, 2011 9:53 AM

I installed IE9 but have subsequently uininstalled it for two primary reasons:
1) I could not get the Adobe Reader add-on to start when a PDF link was clicked.

2) In IE8 I can click and drag the icon/picture next to the URL that's in the address bar and place it into any Windows folder. Then it can be double-clicked later and will take you directly to the web site. Annoyingly, IE9 has changed this functionality for some other one that I don't use.

So IE9 is "gone" (uninstalled) for me, and I am enjoying IE8 again.

Dottie Sinkler
June 14, 2011 10:38 AM

DO NOT INSTALL IE9 UNLESS YOU WANT ALL OF THE PROBLEMS THAT I ENCOUNTERED! I installed IE9 and it has been a disaster, and although I uninstalled it and IE8 installed automatically, I cannot access anything from my desktop and instead get a STUPID message with an IE logo, "Do you want to open or save this file?" No mattrer what I click the message does not go away. I am now having to pay a computer person to come to my home and fix this to the tune of $129.00. THANKS INTERNET EXPLORER 9 FOR NOTHING!

Robert Funkey
June 14, 2011 12:29 PM

IE9 installed without a hitch, and usually works without a hitch, but there are many web sites that do not support it *or should I say IE9 does not support them anymore). For that reason alone I would not recommend IE9 to anyone at this time.

June 14, 2011 4:39 PM

Any version of IE is perfect. You can use it to install superior browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera, etc.
After that, there is absolutely no need to use IE except when you are forced to (by making it unnecessarily complicated to do otherwise) by sites such as

Leo Lawhorn
June 14, 2011 5:05 PM

I installed IE9 Beta several months ago with no problems. I am still using IE9 and have not had any problems whatsoever. I have tried other browsers, but I like IE9 best. I have a three year old Dell Inspiron 530S with Windows 7.

June 14, 2011 7:17 PM

@Al Taylor, try Foxit PDF Reader instead, I've been using it for 3 years now and its just as good as Adobe, in fact I'd say its a little faster (its free by the way). I use IE 9 and have been doing since I beta tested it and have had no problems with opening PDFs in the browser with Foxit.

@Dottie Sinklair, that sounds like you have another problem on your PC to me, I'd advise a reformat and reinstallation of Windows personally.

Regarding IE 9 in general, its the fastest IE offering so far and I like it a lot, I have all 3 of the major browsers and use IE 9 for everything except Facebook (I need add-ons for FB that aren't available in any version of IE), I rarely have any problems and those that do occasionally occur are the type that could occur with any browser, truth be told I have more problems with the latest version of Chrome than I do with IE 9, same applies to Firefox. I agree with Leo though, if your system is in a mess that can cause problems with any new software installation, my suggestion would be to have IE 9 and one of the other major browsers installed as well, no single browser works well on all websites in my experience, you can have as many web browsers as you like installed - I have IE 9 plus the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox, if I have a problem with a site in one then its almost guaranteed it will work with one of the others.

June 14, 2011 9:47 PM

I had a lot of problems with Vista and reformatted my machine - installed Win 7 and IE9. NO problems so far .. As far for Adobe Reader .. it kept messing with me big time. I uninstalled it and got FOX It . I just made sure that I did not answer with too many YES answers when it comes to their settings

June 17, 2011 12:40 PM

Why on earth would you want to install IE9!?

Install Firefox, or Chrome, or Opera, or some other PROPER browser but please for the love of all things good do not install IE9, it's better than 8 but microsoft still seem to take pleasure in making web developers lives hell

June 18, 2011 4:16 PM

I bought this computer June 16, 2011, it's an HP pavilion with windows7, i'm so use to xp it is hard getting use to windows7. I have done all the ms updated just got windows7 sp1 update.

I have ie9 in my ms updates but have not installed it. I'm not sure whether to get it or not, i know ie9 has just came out and bugs are a concern. I know that all programs have bugs some get fixed and some get pushed to the back burner.

Anyways with all that said would it be any problem upgrading to ie9 seeing as how my computer is new? Or should i wait until ms has had time to work out more of the bugs?

That is the questions running through my head while im debating on wheather to upgrade now or later.

Perform a full system backup in case things go wrong, and then update now. Sooner is better than later when it comes to a relatively new machine. Changes over time are what often make these upgrades problematic. As I said, with a backup even if the worst happens you can revert to what you had before.

August 18, 2011 3:50 PM

"Sooner is better than later when it comes to a relatively new machine." Can you please indicate how new is "relatively new" in your book Leo? Thanks.

No, I can't. There's no number that I can put on that, particularly since it depends on how you use your computer, how many updates it's taken and so on. It's quite complex, and the best I can offer is that sooner is better.

Tom McCasey
March 24, 2012 11:00 AM

I had Windows Internet Explorer 9 for Windows 7 updated on my computer and it caused the following problem in my hotmail. The tool bar when writing an e mail which contains the row Attachments, Office Docs, Photos and Emoticons disappears when I move my curser. Have you seen or heard of this problem and have a solution to this problem?

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