All Your Browser Crashes Are Belong to Flash!

Over the past year or so, I’ve been plagued with browser crashes of a specific type: Flash banners. There’s a certain type of Flash animation that gives IE8, Chrome, and Firefox absolute fits. Complete lock-up and eventual crash. Check out the screen shots:


Above: This is a Windows Live Flash-based banner locking up and crashing Google Chrome. Google seems to resist crashing the best of all the browsers, though when it tanks it takes the whole thing down – not just a single tab like they’d have you believe. I guess nothing works as well as the marketing tells us it does.


Above: Here’s Firefox crashing on a Microsoft Bing Flash-based banner locking up and crashing Firefox. The behaviour is always the same: Firefox will peg one CPU core, and the memory usage will climb and climb – once it reaches around 1.5 GB, it will finally crash hard. I’ve lost count of the number of crash reports I’ve submitted to Mozilla.


Above: Another Firefox Flash banner crash, this time from Bud Light. Maybe Firefox doesn’t like lime beer.


Above: Yet another Firefox crash, this time on another computer, and from Budweiser.

Curious about what the actual crash report looks like when Firefox takes a dump? Dig this:

A problem caused this program to stop interacting with Windows.
Problem signature:
Problem Event Name:    AppHangB1
Application Name:    firefox.exe
Application Version:
Application Timestamp:    49f1091d
Hang Signature:    cc8e
Hang Type:    0
OS Version:    6.0.6002.
Locale ID:    1033
Additional Hang Signature 1:    2de4e2a1ef83764b153393c7ddb0c147
Additional Hang Signature 2:    75d7
Additional Hang Signature 3:    fdf5d60b2d0319bb6c73afe447f9eeff
Additional Hang Signature 4:    cc8e
Additional Hang Signature 5:    2de4e2a1ef83764b153393c7ddb0c147
Additional Hang Signature 6:    75d7
Additional Hang Signature 7:    fdf5d60b2d0319bb6c73afe447f9eeff

This has happened to me on multiple computers, multiple browsers, and no, it’s not related to extensions on Firefox. The only extensions I’ve had installed for quite a while now is the Canadian dictionary, and Xmarks. But since it crashes both Chrome and IE8, neither of which have add-on extensions, I’m more suspicious of Flash itself – meaning that this problem is related to the Flash plug-in that each of these browsers use. I’ve updated, un-installed, and re-installed Flash more times than I can count and it never helped. I’ve watched as a banner goes through certain animations, and the CPU is pegged, then it transitions to another part of the banner and the CPU calms down. This is all related to the animation that Flash banner designers are using, I’m sure of it.

Because IE8 doesn’t re-open tabs when you close and re-open it – didn’t IE7 do that? – using it for my serious browsing isn’t much of an option. I fire it up when I need to check a site that I know I won’t keep open for more than a few minutes. Chrome is more crash-proof than Firefox 3.1, so I’ve been using that for the past month or so. It’s a nice, fast browser – but doesn’t render everything properly and sometimes acts funky, so I fire up Firefox on a regular basis. It’s weird using three different browsers! I haven’t tried Firefox 3.5 much since it was released recently, so I might switch back and hope that it’s less prone to “Flash Crashes”…