back to article Firefox takes top marks in browser stability tests

Web app testing-as-a-service company Sauce Labs has released its latest browser crash data, and remarkably enough, the least stable web browser today probably isn't the one you think it is. True, by this metric as by most others, Internet Explorer 6 is the worst browser out there. It topped the crash rankings in Sauce Labs' …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But to be comparing IE vs Chrome and Safari means using Windows and most people seem to agree that Safari sucks on Windows.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Firefox does crash a lot -- when you have 400 tabs open.

      Anon to hide my idiocy.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        At my work nobody has found a browser that allows you to keep ~100 tabs open and not either crash outright or soak up >8GB of memory and so page the machine in to oblivion.

        I close mine every night and keep to ~20 tabs max for that reason :(

        Back to the WTF point of this, even 400 tabs & 8GB or memory is approx 20MB used per tab, really how do you get that usage from a few 100kB of download per open tab?!

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Opera?

          Opera 12.xx, free, is pretty good for lotsa tabs open without running out of memory. You can have tab groups that concertina open or closed, and several browser windows to manage session state together or separately. (If you close one window without saving its state, I think it isn't easy to get back, unless it is; I try to avoid doing that.)

          Opera 15 and later seems to be an attempt to take Chromium and add Opera features to it, initially rudimentary. Version numbers are the crazy kind - you can try out Opera 16 or Opera 17 with more features added but they are not yet built to be relied on. Each web page in O15 has its own process in Task Manager, plus one for the window.

          Opera 12 will be maintained as it requires for the time being.

          Opera 12 crashes on my Windows 7 tablet computer if I use the Google Groups web site, but I'm blaming that on the tablet, which is buggy at hardware or OS level.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          100kb of download probably expands to many megabytes of bit-mapped surfaces.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: Anon to hide my idiocy.

        Just for the honesty you got a thumbs up.

    2. Greg J Preece

      But to be comparing IE vs Chrome and Safari means using Windows and most people seem to agree that Safari sucks on Windows.

      Given that Safari doesn't appear to be developed for Windows any more, and Safari 6 isn't on Windows, I'm thinking these Safari 6 results might be from a Mac.

      1. JLV Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        >I'm thinking these Safari 6 results might be from a Mac

        Upvote from me. And regarding your downvote - leave it to a fanboi to downvote a simple statement of facts.

        Personally, I loathe Safari 6 on my iPhone, where it hangs at least once a day.

        It never errors out on my Mac however. Mostly because I never use Safari if I can help it and Firefox and Chrome work just fine on a Mac. Why would you want to tie yourself to Apple when not necessary, even if you do use their hardware?

        Safari. Just. Say. No. *

        * among other reasons for my loathing is Safari past decision not to support http put and delete methods. A behavior since then corrected, but quite worthy of IE6's "our way or the highway".

        1. Greg J Preece

          Re: >I'm thinking these Safari 6 results might be from a Mac

          Upvote from me. And regarding your downvote - leave it to a fanboi to downvote a simple statement of facts.

          I was wondering about that... Oh well, that's the reality distortion field for you.

          While we're discussing Safari features that make my piss boil - how about not only blocking popups by default, but not informing the user in any way that you've blocked something? There's a section of our site that has a popup by necessity, and we had to add a blurb for Safari users telling them that yes, the site is in fact working.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You lot with a 100+ tabs open... do you really need all those tabs open simultaneously? Wouldn't bookmarks and fewer tabs be a better option?

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        "You lot with a 100+ tabs open... do you really need all those tabs open simultaneously? Wouldn't bookmarks and fewer tabs be a better option?"

        But bookmarks are clunky and complicated in comparison; a tab is a much more natural way to do it - you don't do anything, you just open a new tab. (And for the record, I only have 50 tabs open - but some of them are tab groups so may contain more pages.)

      2. William 3 Bronze badge

        I knew a dev who did this. Literally shed loads of tabs open.

        When I asked him how that helped him in his role, he said it did. So I asked him what he was working on, and he spent 10 minutes trying to find it.

        1. Greg J Preece

          I knew a dev who did this. Literally shed loads of tabs open.

          When I asked him how that helped him in his role, he said it did. So I asked him what he was working on, and he spent 10 minutes trying to find it.

          I'm a dev myself. I normally have around 10-15 tabs open, which breaks nothing. I might have more if I'm searching for something, but usually if I'm above 15 I decide that I must be getting distracted, and force myself to close anything irrelevant.

      3. Tom 13

        @AC 21-Aug-2013 8:16 GMT

        I find my limit is about 20. After that I have trouble finding what I'm looking for.

  2. arctic_haze Silver badge
    Happy

    Nice results generally

    This shows what a healthy competition can achieve.

    Internet Explorer 6 is a fossil from the (luckily short) time of Microsoft browser dominance and the tests show what a monopoly leads to.

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: Nice results generally

      Agreed. IE began visually improving in leaps and bounds from IE7, and from IE9 onward I've really had no problem with it. The public at large still slags it off because it's unfashionable, but at a technical level the recent ones are vastly improved. I never tend to have stability issues with any browser any more, really, except reKonq, but while reKonq is a vast improvement over Konqueror, it's still shit, and that's coming from a KDE fanboy.

    2. Ed Vim

      Re: Nice results generally

      I can't agree more, we all need to give a hat tip to Mozilla for restarting the browser wars. There was a time when most of us would be using either IE or Netscape, and now all the major browsers are viable choices with only subtle pluses and minuses. As for all the trollish comments elsewhere, if whichever browser pisses you off so much, quit using it and use a different one. Or get your head out of your ass, learn how to code, and develop your own 'perfect' browser.

  3. Gary F

    I use all 4 major browsers on my computer because I'm fed up with them crashing when I have too many tabs open in any one of them. IE9/10 is the worse. I'm guaranteed it will hang at least once every 2 days, sometimes twice in a day. Grrrr.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Firefox

    Firefox damn well better be stable, otherwise it would have no excuse for updating every time you looked at it.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Firefox

      Indeed, I'm already on FF 23.0.1, so their tests are out of date

      1. Shades

        Re: Firefox

        23.0.1? Latest? Pfft, I'm on 24.0*... probably 25 by the time I've finished typing this! ;-)

        * Admittedly, the Beta channel release.

  5. ElNumbre
    Big Brother

    Chrome; I am disappoint.

    Maybe its me, but over the past 6 months, Chrome has developed a tendency to crash more than George Michael on an off day. Not even 'he's dead Jim', but after a while it will start thrashing the hdd even with only 3 or 4 tabs open. I thought it was one of the extensions, but all disabled, to no effect. And another new one which has started in the last few weeks - opening a brand new Chrome session, for some reason it can't navigate to www.google.co.uk. Bing (and every other site) works perfectly well, but not the 'integrated' search tool. Close and reopen and it magically starts working again.

    Like a lot of Google products, they start off excellent and experience some kind of entropy over time which leaves them crap and unusable.

    I've gone back to Firefox as my day to day browser, and IE10 for work stuff.

    1. Daren Nestor

      Re: Chrome; I am disappoint.

      I have noticed the same - Chrome's speed has dropped off and it's not as reliable as it used to be for me, and I don't use any extensions.

      For personal use, Firefox has improved back to my no1 personal use browser (Chrome is our official work browser - beats IE 6!).

    2. TechW

      Re: Chrome; I am disappoint.

      I noticed this too until the last two updates. I was ready to pull the plug on Chrome and go back to Firefox due to the instabilities of Chrome on my system, but it is now running fine again. Guess they isolated the problems and fixed them. (I may still switch back to Firefox as I like some the the recent changes they implemented and it seems marginally more compatible than Chrome for my work)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Firefox is great! Also, unlike IE, Safari or Chrome it doesn't spy on you for the NSA or GCHQ.

    1. Don Jefe
      Happy

      Not saying you're wrong, but I wouldn't hinge my plans for world domination on that assumption.

      I know the Open Source, more eyeballs, better security argument, just saying: Blind trust in what others said is what led us all to now having a legitimate NSA concern. Six weeks ago what you said would have been an over the top joke.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "doesn't spy on you for the NSA or GCHQ"

      I think you may be confused there.

      The NSA doesn't give a flying monkey's what browser you use. It's recording your traffic, and that happens despite any precaution you may take.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: "doesn't spy on you for the NSA or GCHQ"

        Oh? How about snagging your traffic OUTSIDE any encryption chain? The browser must display the results so would be the weakest link.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just counted my tabs

    I have 55 open, and that is fairly typical of my use of Chrome browser. I also have Firefox installed, which I use if I've just exited Chrome and want to quickly look something up without re-opening 55 tabs. Usually happens when I'm logging off to go shopping, and suddenly remember I forgot to check my bank balance or some such.

    I'm not likely to switch browsers, simply because my bookmarks constitute an enormous, hierarchical and carefully categorised set of pointers to items that have attracted my interest over a period of several years.

    No, I don't have OCD. If that were the case, I would only open sites with matching favicons.

    1. Robert Forsyth

      Re: Just counted my tabs

      I think there should be a (open) standard for bookmarks, open tabs, passwords, etc.; so that any browser can be used.

      Chrome annoys me storing binary data unusable by other applications in my computer's (k)wallet.

      1. Don Jefe
        Thumb Up

        Re: Just counted my tabs

        That's a good idea!

        Now you just gotta get the browser people to put out standards compliant browsers.

      2. majorursa
        Boffin

        Re: Just counted my tabs

        Xmarks and Lastpass work on any browser.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just counted my tabs

        It would be nice; the only reason I moved from Firefox to Chrome is because it was nice to sync bookmarks between my S3, Nexus 7, home pc and work pc.

        Whilst I don't like Chrome desktop as much as Firefox, the mobile version of Chrome is MUCH more usable than firefox mobile (in my opinion, it's just awful).

    2. Trahloc
      Thumb Up

      Re: Just counted my tabs

      Xmarks. I too have hundreds and hundreds of bookmarks. Xmarks let me switch from Firefox to Chrome since Chrome lets me have hundreds of tabs open across multiple windows, I think the fact it runs separate processes helps with that. Anyways, Xmarks is great.

    3. Don Dumb

      Another vote for Xmarks

      Just to add my ten-peneyth worth to other posters' recommendations:

      I use Xmarks to keep my bookmark/favourites up to date across the browsers I use. It works fine and without any interaction from me, keeps bookmarks consistent between my browsers on my computer and also safari on my iPhone whenever I sync.

    4. Grave

      Re: Just counted my tabs

      instance 1 - 73 tabs

      instance 2 - 27 tabs

      instance 3 - 45 tabs

      instance 4 - 14 tabs

      instance 5 - 40 tabs

      memory used between 400-900 megs per instance (of 28 gigs ram total)

      firefox, capped memory caches at 1 gig to prevent some runaway leaks eating up all available memory and indirectly making some more important process to keel over :)

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    1. Don Jefe
      Joke

      Re: Hmm

      Found your problem. You're not using Safari on your Mac.

      The knock on your door will be your escort to a reeducation facility.

      1. pepper

        Re: Hmm

        Did Firefox by any chance update or did you install something new? Could be a borked up program or driver somewhere although I really cant say anything useful about it.

        For me, this article seems to ring through, Firefox went through a lack of stability after 4, this was also when they started the whole 'One major version a month' thingy. Which is fine but confusing none the less. So far I havent had any crashes that cannot be attributed to flash in the past few months so that seems promising so far. I also use Chromium(Chrome with google stuff stripped) on the side which is also quite nice.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. pepper

            Re: Hmm

            Hmm, might be. I have Adblock plus and Noscript and am not experiencing those problems unfortunately... Might as well be FireFox itself though.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. pepper

                Re: Hmm

                I still am! I am glad your problems are resolved, although bugger me with a fishfork if I knew what was causing it.

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. William Donelson

    Environments? Useless results as they are now.

    See the full report which says nothing about what machine & OS was being used...

    http://sauceio.com/index.php/2013/08/the-surprising-worst-browser-the-reboot/

  10. asdf Silver badge
    Trollface

    >Opera 12 didn't do so well

    Who?

  11. Steven Roper

    Interesting that Safari and Opera have such high error rates while Chrome is so low, considering that all three use the Webkit engine as their foundation (ISTR Opera switched to Webkit a while back didn't they?)

    Like others here, I have no problem with the modern incarnations of IE. Since Microsoft have been dragged screaming to the W3C table the job of web development has become a lot less hair-greying than in the days of IE6, when as I recall I became quite the Firefox evangelist on these very forums (and elsewhere) to try and drive standardisation. I'm very thankful that that battle, at least, is finally over!

    1. BoldMan
      FAIL

      Its not over when millions of people are still using old versions of IE and MS will only release the latest versions on Win 8. We have clients who are locked into using IE6 FFS (major telephone company from Britian, I'm looking at you!) so we STILL have to support that red-headed bastard child of complete and utter morons over a decade later than we should be!

      1. Eguro

        Opera only switched to Webkit on their "next" browser:

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/02/opera15_wtf/

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Greg J Preece

      Interesting that Safari and Opera have such high error rates while Chrome is so low, considering that all three use the Webkit engine as their foundation (ISTR Opera switched to Webkit a while back didn't they?)

      Chrome are switching off to their own fork of Webkit, and I think Opera are following them onto it. The name of the new engine escapes me.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    Sauce Labs teams with Internet Explorer ..

    'Sauce Labs Inc .. today announced they are providing automated testing for Internet Explorer’s modern.IE update.`

    We’re thrilled to be teaming up with Internet Explorer’s modern.IE to accomplish our mutual goals of helping developers deliver terrific code and better performing applicationslink

  13. Tannin

    Opera <> Chrome <> Opera

    Steven Roper says: "Interesting that Safari and Opera have such high error rates while Chrome is so low, considering that all three use the Webkit engine as their foundation (ISTR Opera switched to Webkit a while back didn't they?)"

    No. Opera is planning to switch to Webkit, but Opera 12.x is still based on Presto. There are no plans to update Presto any further and they presumably stopped work on it quite some time ago.

    There *is* a thing called 'Opera 15.x", and that's what you get if you go to the Opera website and just click "download" today, but no-one uses it, for the very good reason that it is absolutely woefully bad in nearly all respects. It is NOT Opera. It is not even *close* to being Opera. It is just a very poor quality copy of Chrome with almost none of the design elegance or powerful user features Opera is famous for.

    Needless to add, Opera users are horrified and are either refusing to move off real Opera (i.e., the 12.x branch) or else jumping ship to SeaMonkey or Firefox. Even real Chrome (the airline chicken of browsers) is markedly superior to the ugly and crippled Opera 15.x. Opera says that they will improve the 15.x version, but the reality is that it is nowhere near ready for prime time and should be regarded as an early Alpha.

    PS: what is this instability nonsense anyway? At this moment I have:

    * 52 Opera tabs open (not many by my standards, I often have more than 100);

    * 4 Firefox tabs; 40 SeaMonkey tabs (this has usually been about the practical limit for SeaMonkey or Firefox (which share a lot of code); they seem better lately, doubtless because of the same improvements mentioned in the article);

    * and just the one Chrome tab. Large numbers of tabs quickly become unmanageable with Chrome and the Chrome derivatives because Chrome lacks a single tab close button option and there isn't screen space for the labels. For this and other reasons, Chrome seems not to be much employed by power users and its stability numbers probably benefit from having more "granny users" who don't stress it much. A similar comment applies to Internet Explorer - but on the other hand, IE users tend to be the ones with 17 toolbars and 32 other promiscuous add-ons, which is a huge handicap. Perhaps the dramatic improvement in IE stability numbers has a lot to do with the vastly improved interface for managing add-ons in the newer versions of IE .

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Opera <> Chrome <> Opera

      I have had problems with Opera crashing lately. :(

  14. Mark Major
    Joke

    My Dad's got more tabs open than your Dad!

    :P

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many of the people who claim instability are using a browser with add-ons?

  16. WatAWorld

    Not fair to consider really old versions of MSIE

    A fairer comparison would be the error rates of versions released in the last 2 or 3 years.

    There is no excuse for a client running a version more than 3 years old. Older than that and it is the client's choice -- the client's fault.

    MS keeps those really old versions of IE around to keep corporate customers happy, not because they want to.

    Throwing those really old versions into the comparison is only going to encourage MS to cease supporting them.

    The other browser makers typically don't have corporate customers so they haven't been pressured into keeping obsolete software going, this is a force beyond MS's control that other browser makers don't fact.

    I use Firefox, I think it is better than MSIE in the long term, it is not worth the fuss to change browsers each quarter or even each year.

    But I want fairness in journalism. If FF the latest version of FF is not more stable than the latest version of MSIE I want to be told that.

  17. Alan Denman

    IE = play nowhere

    In the world of internet gadgets its best avoid those with little in the rest of the world.

    So Firefox both wins and plays anywhere. It would even play in IOS but for that big 2 fingers 'NOT WELCOME' sign hanging on that other web door.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vertical Tabs

    Once wide screen monitors became commonplace, I started using the Tree Style Tab Extension in Firefox to run my Tabs down the left hand side of my monitor, rather than along the top. The only downside is that I end up keeping a lot more Tabs open, but Session Manager and BarTab Lite allow me to close the browser and re-open it with the same set of Tabs open.

    I am using IE10 a fair bit too, but only for temporary or transient stuff - the lack of vertical tabs, and not being able to reliably save and re-open a collection of tabs makes it next to useless for ongoing tasks.

  19. miket82

    I blame Mosaic

    If only they had got it right.

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