Watch out for this Firefox gotcha

So far I’m reasonably happy with Firefox 3. I like two features in particular: crash recovery (if the browser crashes, it offers to restore all your tabs when you resume) and download pause/resume (if you’re doing a big download and you need to close the browser for some reason, you can restart where you left off). Here’s the Download Manager in action. See that Pause button?


Unfortunately, these two features don’t work together. So, this morning, when I was 75% of the way through a 4+GB download, Firefox decided to crash. When it resumed, I noticed that the download resumed as well. From the beginning.

Ugh. Yes, I know there are extensions that do a better job with downloads, but this seems like it should be a core feature.

19 thoughts on “Watch out for this Firefox gotcha

  1. I never said it was a new feature. I said “I like two features in particular.” My point is that these two features don’t work together in FF3.

  2. Browser crashing is an action too common, even if it only happens once in a blue moon. So the developers should strive to make it so that any crashes are as painless as possible.

    Have you considered filing a feature request directly to Mozilla?

  3. It’s a bigger burn with a huge download like that ISO. I noticed a download resuming after a crash recently and thought, “this is cool.” I can’t say whether it actually started over or not. Time for some more rigorous testing, Ed.

    The FF 3 beta crashed so often, I actually switched to IE7 for a week or so. Until IE7 crashed. No recovery, no restored session. Even the history of my activity just before the crash was missing. Arg.

    Back to the FF3. It still crashes almost daily, but the recovery makes it bearable. (It crashes and restores faster than ever!) During that week with IE7, I missed my FF extensions terribly.


  4. This is worthy of a bug report, try
    The great thing about these open source projects is that they often have a bug tracker, and I was surprised to see that bug reports do get looked at seriously. Every time I submit one, I get a response within days, and it does get resolved (sometimes it takes a few weeks). This is a great opportunity to see how it works Ed 🙂

    Of course, theoretically you can also fix the bug yourself, which is amazing if you think of it. But you and me probably don’t have the knowledge, nor the time, nor the will to go ahead and fix a bug like that, but having the possibility to do so is amazing I think. What is even more amazing is that they have an active bug tracker system, and someone out there always responds to bug reports (for me so far anyway).

    I’ve never posted a bug report for IE, but I did for the C++ compiler in Visual Studio 2005. I posted a bug report back in 2006 (a case exhibiting that the 64bit C compiler took 10 times as long as the 32bit C compiler for the same complicated source file) and never got a reply nor any kind of follow up on it.

    What I’m saying is: kudos to the open source folks for how they handle bug reports, unfortunately MS seems to be way less reachable than any of the open source projects I’ve dealt with so far. So much so that I typically don’t even bother trying to contact MS (and apparently Long and his UX task force thing seems to agree).

    So give it a try just for fun 🙂 I’ve tried to do a search and see if this was already reported, but there are too many bug reports out there apparently with keywords “crash download recovery”.

  5. Personally, I rather see more effort put into making it not crash instead of fancy features to make crashes go smoother.

  6. I guess when you say you like FF3 and mention two features in particular, it does make it sound like you didn’t realize both features were already in FF2.

    I hadn’t ever gotten a crash during a download, so I wasn’t sure if the download recovery worked, so I killed firefox 2 while downloading a file, and when I restarted it, it recovered my tabs, and started downloading the file again.

    It seems strange to post this if the entire thing could be rewritten replacing ff3 with ff2.

    I guess you are just saying it doesn’t work as well in ff3 as it does in ff2.

  7. Ed,

    I use the downThemAll! extension to handle large downloads. The segmented downloading feature makes it very useful for speeding up those large files.

  8. Ed, After download is finish it also scan for viruses does it uses the installed antivirus in the computer or does it use the built in malware protection in Firefox 3.

  9. To Mr. Bott:

    I often archive web pages in my daily activity, printing them to xps (or pdf).

    IE 7 performs as expected and is reliable no matter the web site.
    Firefox 3 in that matter is totally useless.

    I agree with the ease of use of the Dowload Manager on Firefox and some other features, but I have seldom seen a browser print comparative test in any web site.

    If this comment comes to your attention.

    Best Regards,

    Mark Von Stussi

  10. Hey the reason is so simple. 90 % of the download managers do not resume when the single file size is more than 4 GB .

    Now you can stop wondering why those movie files are split into 600 mb RAR .

    I drove me nuts till I could find flashget and others which can resum large files.. Some of them although do decent job of warning you though

  11. Totally agree with Joe (#5). Microsoft has two really serious communications issues which put it at an instant disadvantage vs. open-source projects in terms of mindshare.

    (1) Every single team must have a bug database on Microsoft Connect, not just for betas, but for released products. Customer service is simply a lousy way to collect bug reports — some of your most technically-savvy and knowledgeable customers will simply refuse ever to call in to a call center for the runaround.

    (2) Every product team must have a blog, updated weekly. You can post progress, you can post tips-and-tricks, you can post anything. It is not enough to put out a book through Microsoft Press after-the-fact that describes how wonderful your product is — people want to read it on blogs, before release, for free.

    That having been said, my experience of filing bugs with open-source projects is that they are especially lousy at two types of bugs: (1) UI modifications (2) accessibility. Type #1 tends to devolve into arguments over the right approach, because of the consensus-driven nature of most projects. Type #2 simply gets ignored most of the time because it’s a very un-glamorous area, and most developers don’t really take them seriously because they themselves aren’t blind or deaf or paralyzed.

    Apple does great on #1, because they’ve always been careful with design. Microsoft does great on #2, because they get sued if they don’t.

  12. I am probably wrong, but I believe the pause/resume only works if the FTP server supports it. I have had downloads resume before after a crash and restart. Perhaps it was just the ftp server you were connected to that prevented firefox from resuming the download.

  13. Craig is perhaps correct – it may be that the server doesn’t support resuming. Either way, filing a bug report would be good as this would be a nice feature for a future release of Firefox – I believe a 3.1 release is due out later this year.

    In response to TJ: I believe it uses the system default virus scanner. The malware protection feature is just a list of web sites known to contain malware.

  14. Ed

    Firefox 3 does have an improved download manager and, in many cases, it will pick up where it left off when a crash occurs. As someone mentioned earlier, some sites do not play well with this feature and you end up having to start over. Any possibility the crash was related to the over-sized SUSE download, esp since ISP’s have been throttling large downloads?

    From the Mozilla site:

    Download Manager

    An all new manager lets you download seamlessly, with even greater security. A pause and resume feature means there’s no need to wait for a download to finish before you disconnect. So, if you’re halfway through the latest White Stripes album and it’s time to catch the bus, just pause and pick up downloading when you get home. The resume function also works if your system crashes or is forced to restart. The manager shows your download progress and lets you search your files by name or the Web address where the download came from.

  15. Fred, I read that.

    It’s hard to test this stuff, and my point in this post was to warn, not to criticize. If I had known that the download manager had a significant chance of failing, I would have avoided using FF for anything else while this long download was taking place.

  16. Ed

    I never took your comment as a criticism of Fire Fox or it’s download capabilities. I did not mean to suggest that you did and apologize for any inference.

    I experienced a similar problem when OpenSuse 10 was released. Even using a download manager didn’t help. I ended up finding a server in Japan that gave me the best connection and a clean download. Also, I used ftp, in the end.

  17. I’ve had nothing but problems with the new downloader in Firefox. It either freezes or it shows nothing (ie completely blank when I open it up). I have tried every fix I can find, sometimes I can get it to work for a few downloads and then it begins to malfunction again.

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