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How to Troubleshoot Internet Explorer Crashes

internet-explorer-add-ons-disabled-header

If Internet Explorer is crashing and burning, your problem likely lies with a buggy browser add-on. However, Internet Explorer crashes can have a variety of other causes, including incompatibilities with hardware rendering and possible malware.

We have also covered ways to troubleshoot crashes with Google Chrome and issues with Firefox. The steps are remarkably similar for each browser, although how you go about performing them varies wildly between browsers.

Run Internet Explorer Without Add-Ons

Crashes are normally caused by buggy toolbars or other browser add-ons. You can check if add-ons are the problem by running Internet Explorer without add-ons.

To do so, open the Start menu and launch the All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Internet Explorer (No Add-Ons) shortcut.

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On Windows 8, press the Windows key, type iexplore.exe -extoff at the Start screen, and press Enter.

launch-internet-explorer-without-add-ons-on-windows-8

Internet Explorer will open without loading any add-ons. Try using it without add-ons – if no crashes occur, a buggy add-on is causing the crash. If crashes continue to occur, you have another problem.

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Disable Browser Add-Ons

If running Internet Explorer with no browser add-ons fixed your problem, you can disable the add-ons one by one to identify the one causing the problem. Click the gear menu and select Manage add-ons to open the Manage Add-ons window.

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Select an add-on in the Toolbars and Extensions category and click the Disable button to disable it. Disable add-ons one by one – or disable them all and enable them one by one – until you identify the add-on causing the problem.

If you don’t need the add-ons, feel free to leave them disabled.

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Reset Internet Explorer Settings

You can reset Internet Explorer’s browser settings to the defaults, which can help solve a variety of browser problems. First, open the Internet Options window from the gear menu.

open-internet-options

Select the Advanced tab and click the Reset button to reset your browser settings.

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You will have the ability to see exactly which settings will be reset before confirming. You could delete your personal settings, too, although this shouldn’t be necessary.

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Use Software Rendering

Like other browsers, Internet Explorer 9 and later versions use your computer’s graphics hardware to accelerate web page rendering. This can occasionally cause problems with some graphics hardware and graphics drivers.

You can see whether this is causing the problem by disabling hardware acceleration. First, open the Internet Options window.

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Click the Advanced tab and enable the “Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering” option under Accelerated graphics. You will need to restart IE after changing this setting.

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If crashes continue to occur after activating software rendering, you should probably disable this option. Assuming it works properly – and it does on the vast majority of computers — GPU rendering helps speed things up.

Scan for Malware

Malware can cause many types of applications to crash, especially web browsers like Internet Explorer. If your browser is crashing frequently, be sure to scan your computer with antivirus software like Microsoft Security Essentials. You may also want to get a second opinion from another antivirus program if you already have antivirus software installed.

Install Updates

Install the latest updates for Internet Explorer and Windows from Windows Update – this can fix some crashes. You may also be able to solve crashes by updating Internet security applications like firewalls and antivirus programs. If hardware acceleration was causing the problem, you may be able to make GPU rendering work properly by updating your computer’s graphics drivers.

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Microsoft also offers an Internet Explorer “Fix it” troubleshooter that you can run to attempt to fix problems with Internet Explorer.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 02/6/13

Comments (19)

  1. IE

    Do people still use IE?

  2. blkdrgn

    easy mode for this topic.. uninstall IE, install chrome. no more IE crashes.

  3. Dan

    I was sure that will be this kind of smart comments…
    Yes, people still use IE, like 50%.
    Yeah, install chrome, no more IE crashes, just Chrome crashes.
    And Firefox or Opera crash too.
    I tried all, still prefer IE over all the others.

  4. LinuxRules

    I agree with the first two comments!
    Regarding the third comment. I have been using Chrome for years without EVER having a crash.

  5. WhytteDragun

    @dan: you LIKE using the slowest, least secure browser? The only reason IE has any market share at all (over Chrome, Firefox, etc) is that it comes with Windows and a lot of people don’t know there are better browsers.
    When you tried the others, did you actually try them, or did you do the usual “it’s not what I’m used to so I don’t like it” that so many people do when trying something new?

  6. w3techie

    I prefer other browsers and Unix-based operating systems, but the advantage to using IE on Windows is it is fully integrated with Internet Options in Control Panel and does allow for more troubleshooting than third-party browsers. IE and Internet Options are two different things.

    If you use a third-party browser, Internet Options in Control Panel still apply but may not be fully integrated with your browsing experience. If you having browsing issues that involve how these options are set when navigating or viewing certain sites, it might be necessary and / or beneficial to use IE.

    As for preference, I am currently using Waterfox most of the time on my personal computer. I am experimenting more with Sea Monkey. I use both Windows and Ubuntu.

  7. Paul

    Unfortunately, there are many SaaS programs that REQUIRE IE, so moving to a different browser isn’t an option.

  8. w3techie

    @Paul

    Additionally, intranets accessible mostly to employees are commonly fully compatible with IE while other browsers may or may not be that important to the developers. If you are on an intranet, you have to be able to use only IE, but you don’t have to be able to use your preferred browser. Also, it may become very expensive for large corporate sites to try and keep intranets fully compatible with all mainstream browsers, and since the intranet is not available to the general public it becomes unimportant.

  9. Kevalin

    While I rarely use IE, to imply that, because Chrome, or Firefox, or Opera or whatever never crashes on YOUR machine, there must somehow be something wrong with computers (owners) who have experienced crashes… or to imply that people who choose to use IE are somehow less informed than (and , by extension, somehow not as smart as) your vaunted self seems pretty… high school, don’t you think?

    Honest-to-god, just because other people prefer to use a browser or computer or phone brand that is different from what you prefer, it doesn’t mean they’re attempting to make you seem “less than.” It really and truly is just a preference. honest

    Ditto, if they have an opinion that isn’t favorable to you preferred brand; honest, they’re not telling you that their willie is bigger than yours. No reason to go into full troll overload.

  10. Chris

    I came to say the easy way is to use Chrome, but I see someone has already done the hard work for me.

  11. Chris

    Well said Kevalin! I switch between IE 10 (the latest version) and Firefox. Can’t see much difference. IE 10 is available for Windows 7 users. Give it a try.

  12. w3techie

    @Kevalin

    I agree. The truth is most mainstream software depends on the user. If you are smart enough to use Linux or a browser typically installed with Linux, or you are smart enough to compare different browsers, you should be smart enough to make IE work for you the way you want or need it to.

    Microsoft gets put down on more because it is used more, and it is consequently rejected and put to shame more and open to more criticism and a higher level of criticism. But, if a third-party browser has a hiccup or bug, no one really complains. They probably didn’t directly pay for it. They are not forced to use it. So, all is easily forgiven.

    If you are savvy enough to go out and shop for your own software, you should be savvy enough to configure Microsoft products to run smoothly. You just might not have gotten around to it yet, or found any reason to get around to it. But, it can be done.

  13. /| |\| () |\| Y |\/| () |_| S

    @ w3techie (& Everyone)

    Microsoft IE is “put to shame” (as you put it) due to their HISTORY! That is to say, IE and many other products have always been historically problematic. Even now, there are reported security “holes” in IE that simply aren’t a problem for most other browsers. But where should I start? With Java? How about Flash? Perhaps those are bad examples since they don’t exactly come from Microsoft – not that Microsoft could warn us via the updates process or anything. So how about that most horrible of all products that has been and continues to be a major problem when installed, Silverlight? A product that only works correctly as an add-on with (surprise!) IE?

    But that’s not exactly why I dislike it. I resist IE and almost all Microsoft products due to the fact that Microsoft pretty much FORCES us to have/use them. Just look at DirectX, .NET, Media Center, or even SQL. Maybe you’d like to look at another horrible product, Office! I mean, where to even begin with the gripes on those things? Oh ya. Here’s one that seems to come up over and over, SECURITY!

    For a very long time – even against legal mandates – Microsoft has maintained that products like IE are necessary for certain functions of their OS to work. Functions like obtaining updates! So, does that sound fair? Because if it is does then would you care to tell me where I can get IE for Ubuntu? Or how about OSX?!

    Now this is not to say that we shouldn’t abandon IE, because it’s an absolute must to know and understand it if you fully use Windows. And who doesn’t? But then we’re back to that “forced” thingy again. Aren’t we?

    My problem isn’t so much with IE as it is with who made it. My problem is more of a political one these days than a technical one. I just point out the tech and the history as EVIDENCE to maybe avoid a horrible company and any more of their other products.

    So hopefully, you’re hip to this “process”. Hopefully, you (now) see an even bigger problem with Microsoft than this silly little IE argument since there’s a much bigger problem coming and it’s called UEFI! Maybe once you realize these other “small things” can you see why we should resist/avoid any more involvement with Microsoft than we have already taken. IE is just one example that happens to be the topic right now but don’t let that fool you. Because it would seem that Microsoft is trying to herd us all into some sort of cash cow pen and force everyone to pay even if we don’t have one of their products.

    So maybe now is a good time to learn Linux. But then, that’s still your CHOICE! (For now…)

  14. Meena Bassem

    totally agree with the first 2 comments
    just get another browser

  15. w3techie

    @/| |\| () |\| Y |\/| () |_| S

    Unix-based systems are great, and Microsoft certainly has security issues that other software does not. You kind of took the discussion to a whole new level. In general, I would agree with your statements, but not entirely with your sentiments. Much of those shortcomings are from an earlier era. Not that I am arguing your point, but I am trying to make another point when I ask:

    Isn’t that kind of like blaming the DOT.COM boom for popups? We no longer get hit with popups because technology has advanced, and we still have .COM sites, and they are now part of a much bigger better scope of websites; not nearly as many of them end with .COM.

    Microsoft is sustained by two major groups: enterprise professional and pimply kids that need Windows to play games. Microsoft brought this technology to those groups, and those groups brought success to the computer industry as a whole. If there was never a Microsoft to make computers popular, Unix-based systems could still be sitting around making phone calls for AT&T.

    So, on a similar note, blaming Microsoft for common technical issues occurring in Windows is kind of like blaming AT&T for dropped calls. More people seem to hate Linux than hate Windows when it comes to usability, but Linux distributions have made improvements there by following the example of Microsoft Windows. And, on the other side of the fence, Bill Gates built Windows 7 on the Linux kernel.

    So, really both Windows and Linux are not headed away from each other, but toward each other. And, they’re both chasing after Apple when it comes to tablets. So, that’s what you begin to discuss when you begin to look at the bigger picture. Yes, a discussions about web browsers is only an integral part of a much larger topology.

    :-)

  16. saket

    The most reliable solution……..Uninstall It!!!!!

    Or just switch off the Windows OS
    Start using Linux

  17. DeathAngel

    I don’t know if anyone have noticed it but when Internet Explorer crashes and the window just hang and is not responsive the solution is to open another instance of Internet Explorer. That actually fixes the window that crashed. Just wanted to share.

  18. Lynn

    This comment thread was ridiculous. Sounfs like a pissing contest
    .The topic was written for ppl who like and or prefer IE. I myself love IE for my PC never have issues , but chrome all the way for my laptop

  19. Mary

    I really do not understand why we still have to deal with IE. I really think that webmaster community should do something about it and solve this problems once and for all. I’ve read in few places that we should follow a “Switch to a new browser day” where we can inform people with older browsers to switch to new ones on our homepages. Check out this idea that this guy posted:
    http://www.beaconwatch.com/post.php?id=18
    Do you think something like this can be implemented?

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