How to Troubleshoot Internet Explorer Crashes

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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.

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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.

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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
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