Internet Explorer 8 Crashes

Category: Browsers

Many users report that Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 locks up or even crashes their entire PC, under a variety of circumstances. They want to know why. Here's the scoop...

IE8 Crashes

Why Does Internet Explorer 8 Crash All The Time?

Anything designed to be perfectly safe is perfectly unusable and no fun at all. Witness any poor kid locked up in all the head, wrist, elbow, knee, chest, ankle, groin and other body armor recommended by the National Safety Council for skateboarders. He can't move freely. He is sure to wipe out, and the other kids will laugh at him.

The same thing seems to happening with Internet Explorer 8. Lots of people are experiencing browser crashes and freeze-ups that didn't happen with earlier IE versions.

Deserved or not, Microsoft has a poor reputation for software security. It's no secret that hackers frequently exploit Windows and other MS products to get at users' personal information, deliver malware, and cause all sorts of mischief. I won't debate whether MS software is "leakier" or less secure than other software. It's enough to point out that it's the most widely used software, and that makes its enormous user base very attractive to bad guys. No wonder there are more attacks designed for MS software than for other platforms.

The good news is that Microsoft finally got tired of all the security criticism and set out to drastically increase the security of its products, including Internet Explorer. The bad news: that's when IE started crashing regularly.

There are many things IE 8 won't let you do, by its default security settings. Automatically download ActiveX scripts is one of them. Unfortunately, the IE code for handling such blocked actions seems to be lacking, causing IE to crash or freeze as often as not. One solution is to loosen IE's security strangehold. Take off some of that cumbersome, accident-causing body armor!

Disabling Internet Explorer 8 Security Features

First, turn off SmartScreen Filter, which checks the Web site you are about to visit against a list of "known" dangerous sites and tells you if the site in question is on the list. If it isn't, do you really think that makes the site safe? You don't need SmartScreen and it's another potential source of malfunctions.

Internet Explorer versions 7 and 8 enable "memory protection" by default, preventing certain online attacks that try to insert themselves into RAM but also blocking some ActiveX, Javascript, and other classes of perfectly legitimate software. Such blocks can crash IE. To disable memory protection go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Security and uncheck the Enable Protected Mode box. Then restart IE.

A related issue is the Data Execution Prevention feature, which gets turned on when you install or upgrade to IE8. Although it sounds similar, it's different than the Protected Mode feature in the IE browser. My article What is Data Execution Prevention? explains DEP and will show you how to turn it off.

Of course, turning off some of the security features that are put in place to protect you, can make your system more vulnerable to certain exploits. But you'll have to decide if a browser that works is better than one that's safe but crashes all the time.

Doctor, It Hurts When I Use Internet Explorer 8

I'll let you finish the joke, with a hat tip to Groucho Marx. Personally, I use IE only when I absolutely must. That's generally when I have to deal with a Microsoft-owned Web site that I really need for a brief, specific purpose such as downloading Windows updates or getting a tech support page. It's also necessary when using Microsoft Live and all the Microsoft products that require a Live login ID. Guess what? I don't even remember my MS Live log-in ID, and I seem to get by without those Microsoft products.

My recommendation is to use Firefox, with the IE View addon. IE View lets me open a Web page in IE with one click, in case it doesn't work right in Firefox due to lazy Web programming. If it's a site I will visit often, I can set IE View to open any page on that site with IE, every time.

Do you have something to say about IE8 crashing or freezing? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Internet Explorer 8 Crashes"

(See all 33 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

01 Oct 2009

You recommend Firefox, but the latest version crashes constantly, more than IE8

Posted by:

Jim C
01 Oct 2009

I have been having a lot of these problems recently with my laptop (Vista) but not the desktop (XP). I noticed problems with IE and Firefox, and also with Outlook and anything that communicated with the Internet. I came to realize it began about the time of the upgrade to IE8.
I remember reading something about part of IE being used by other software for web communication. Is this true? If so, it may be that IE8 is behind it all.
Problems include waiting for web server till time out, Firefox will not unload, software will not turn off computer (have to use switch), and other similar problems.

Posted by:

01 Oct 2009

I have had very few problems with IE8 and I've been using it since the beta. Its a lot more stable than the latest firefox. But I suppose if people leave the default options on any program set then they deserve what they get.

Posted by:

01 Oct 2009

I also can't find "Enable Protected Mode", and wouldn't mind a suggestion or two.
And I also have problems opening gmail, but I don't use other google doohickeys (good technical term) often, so I can't say about them. Anyway, when I try to open gmail, I always get that silly "Do you want to view only the webpage content that was delivered securely?" After I answer that, and it doesn't matter if I click "Yes" or "No", the following page reads, "This is taking longer than usual. Try reloading the page." Clicking on "Try reloading the page" finally takes me to gmail. Any suggestions?
I have XP, and live in the US.

Posted by:

Charles E
01 Oct 2009

I have been having problems with IE8. It fails very often and when it does it is difficult to recover. Everything appears to be "locked up" I cannot get task manager to run and often have to restart my computer. Sometimes I am forced to turn off my computer manually. I tried eliminating all of the add-ons but one (I consider that one necessary). I finally reinstalled IE8, but the first time I used it, it failed. I am very disappointed with Microsoft and IE8.

I gave up and installed Firefox and, so far it is working fine.

Posted by:

02 Oct 2009

I've generally found Google Chrome to be very good and as Bob does, using IE8 as demanded by some sites to work properly. The Google plug-in for IE8 seems to have improved things in some respects.

Would the Firefox issue be related to memory leaks (see this thread

Posted by:

E C Boko
02 Oct 2009

Big thanks Bob by clarifying this to those who know less and I am one of them. Though, I haven't experienced any crash with my IE 8 and wish not. Necessary precautions need to be taken from now on.

Posted by:

02 Oct 2009

I was frustrated that I could not get Citrix to work 100% of the time with IE8 (about 2% of the time it worked, but not well). Once I disabled the Protected Mode, all was well again. Thanks for bringing up the subject.

Posted by:

Alan Adams
03 Oct 2009

I installed IE8 as soon as it came out, and have had no problems. protected mode and privacy report are always on. ( I am running Vista Home Premium on laptop )I have the firewall, anti-virus, and spyware running, and also others that I don't run in real time, but periodically run to keep the bad guys of the system. Have tried Firefox, and Opera but found they were not as sound as IE. I find in general as long as you look after the machine as stated above, then unless you are unlucky, you should only get a few hiccups along the way.

Posted by:

Michael S.
03 Oct 2009

Here's a National Weather Service site that gives me a DEP error and shuts me down every single time I try to execute it. Just go to this link, look at the upper lefthand sidebar, and click on Base Reflectivity Loop. It shut IE8 down every time I try to run the loop, and changing my DEP settings makes no difference.

So, I'm afraid your DEP suggestion did me no good.

Posted by:

03 Oct 2009

Bob, In the "advanced" tab under Internet options,in the security section, is "Enable memory protection to help mitigate online attacks" the same item as "Enable Protected Mode?" Is so, please confirm, so I can check the thing off. Thanks

Posted by:

M. Free
05 Oct 2009

A couple of things. First I read that there's a "hole" in Firefox that allows several issues. Second, I like Firefox, but it's so slow loading when compared with IE8, that I refuse to use it. firefox was faster opening that IE7, but IE 8 opens much faster

Posted by:

08 Oct 2009

I think IE 8 it's useless, for me even though it has great speed, but it crashes alot, which is annoying, and well Firefox it's really good, chrome its really good but sometimes it tends to slow down for some reasons, but I hope microsoft does something about IE 8.

Posted by:

10 Oct 2009

I have used IE 8,its depends where you donloads and how strong your antivirus programs with u pc ram..IE8 will make it so slow,corrupted and its phissing filter are too slow to ensure the connection..better use old version or use mozzila for faster connection and use opera for standard or faster connection..IE8 is good for safety but corrupt for data loading..anyway ask our bro BOB RANKIN..i believed him..
Internet Explorer 8 Crashes (Ask Bob Rankin)

Posted by:

12 Dec 2009

I've found that I only tend to have problems with IE8 when I have installed Adobe FlashPlayer. I have found many problems in the past, and present with Adobe products, they are poorly developed and tend to have memory leaks and the company cares not for fixing product defects. Try installing IE on a clean system and then do not install Adobe any Adobe/Macrodmedia product, I think you will see a difference.

Posted by:

13 May 2010

update your advise with the following correction:

enable smart screen filter is under the advanced tab not the security tab !!!

Posted by:

Tim Reed
14 Oct 2010

Thanks - un-enabling Protected Mode seems to have fixed the sporadic-but-frequent crashes I was experiencing in IE8, usually when trying to launch web pages by clicking hyperlinks.

Naturally, no MS site or troubleshooter offered a lick of help.

I have to use IE at work, but it's Firefox ONLY at home.

Thanks again ...

Posted by:

01 Nov 2010

Windows 7 And IE 8:

IE 8 Freezes when I copy text from a web page on first execution after PC powered up. This started happening about 4 weeks ago.

Close IE8 with task manager and reopen and everything is fine.

I'll try the suggestion here see if that helps.

Posted by:

15 Aug 2012

I have had tremendous problems with IE 8 running slowly, locking up, sometimes virtually locking up the whole machine. I have lost count of the number of times a web page appears, only to lock so it cannot be scrolled, often while waiting for ads to appear on the page. These locking / crashing / slow running issues have been the case on two different installations of XP.

I've never gone down the Firefox route, but I would recommend using the latest version of Opera. It runs slickly and without many bugs. There is also the benefit of using the latest versions of the browser on older operating systems, like Windows 2000 (which IE and Firefox no longer support with their latest releases).

Posted by:

19 May 2014

Hi Bob,

the version of IE I use is 8, but unfortunately in tools->internet options -> advanced tab, "Enable memory protection to help mitigate online attacks" doesn't exist in the list.
I don't know why this issue occurs on some computers (which IE 8 is installed on)

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