Surprise! The memory issues are back in Firefox

Numerous users of the latest version of the Firefox web browser (3.0.4 released yesterday) are reporting memory issues causing the browser to freeze up or crash. Firefox 2 was plagued with memory management issues, but users had thought Mozilla had put these behind them with Firefox 3.

In my own case, Firefox 3.0.4 has become nearly unusable. The first couple of Firefox 3 releases were fine, and after years of complaining about the product, I couldn’t have been happier. Firefox 3.0.3 seemed a little more unstable, and although there were no clear memory leaks, I went from Firefox never crashing, to Firefox crashing maybe a couple of times a week. Now with Firefox 3.0.4, its a multi-day occurrence. The issue in the new release would appear to be memory related, with memory on my machine spiking over 100% for Firefox with only a handful of tabs open.

Now before Firefox fanboys do their usual trick and whine “it’s your plugins that are doing it” (which is the usual response, because it’s NEVER Firefox’s fault), I’ve tested the latest version of Firefox on three different Macs. My Quad Core Mac Pro with 4GB ram has a number of plugins installed, and I get the memory issue. My Macbook Pro with 2GB ram with 1 plugin installed has the memory issue. My wifes 6 month old Macbook with 1gb and ZERO plugins and really nothing else installed except Leopard HAS THE MEMORY ISSUE.

Here’s some comments on my original mention of the problem from both FriendFeed and Twitter

Its been crashing on me, a dozen times today, at least. – Dave Winer

crashing here too, and I’ve seen it eat all the memory as well :( – Richard Walker

I’ve continually found FF to be the most constantly crashing browser I have, ever since ver 3. Barring using it’s add-ons for web development, have switched almost entirely to Chrome. – Robin Cannon

Crashed on both machines here in completing their auto update feature. FAIL – Paul W. Swansen

It’s become a crashing bore. Does Chrome work on Macs yet? – Abby Martin

Same problem here, and it’s driving me crazy. I want to use it for the addons, but I’ll go back to using Chrome if I need to. i have no complaints with chrome, except it doesn’t support my favorite addons yet. Does anyone know when that we will see a lot of addons for Chrome? – Michael Fidler

I number of users said they weren’t having issues, although the difference seems to be that the issue may be related primarily to the Mac version, although Inquisitr columnist Steve Hodson who doesn’t own a Mac has the same problem as well: details here on Winextra.

I’ve threatened before to dump Firefox over this issue, yet I’m still using it. Safari doesn’t offer the plugins which are the only reason I stick with it. I guess what saddens me more than anything, as a previous donor to Mozilla (so I’m not just a whining user) is that they never seem to learn. If only someone would come out with a Webkit based browser that supported Firefox plugins natively…..