Q. My Internet Explorer 11 crashes many times a day. I want to continue using IE 11. I’ve not found another Web browser to my liking. How can I stop the crashing?
A. Browser problems are almost always caused by compatibility issues between the core browser and the add-ons, extensions, toolbars you've installed or the custom settings you've tweaked your browser with. The solution is to strip away all the personalized cruft and start fresh.
The first step should be a full browser reset — i.e., returning the browser to its pristine, just-installed condition.
In all major browser brands and versions, a full reset takes just a few clicks and is completed in a minute or two. Here’s how to do it in IE 11.
- Close all tabs and windows, and then shut down IE.
- Reopen IE.
- Click the tools button (the gear icon), and then click Internet options.
- Click the Advanced tab; then click Reset.
- In the Reset Internet Explorer Settings dialog box, leave the “Delete personal settings” box unchecked to preserve items such as stored website passwords. Click Reset to start the process (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. A simple reset (IE 11 shown) typically removes common browser malfunctions and poor performance. In IE, uncheck Delete personal settings.
- When Internet Explorer finishes restoring its default settings, click Close and then click OK to exit the Reset process.
- Restart your PC.
Odds are, IE 11 will now work normally. If not, try the same steps, but this time check the box for “Delete personal settings.” This should remove corrupted or incorrect personal settings that are causing trouble. You'll have to restore items such as saved passwords.
When IE appears to be working well, add back your favorite add-ons and customizations — but do so carefully, making one change at a time. Exercise your browser after each change, visiting any pages that previously caused trouble. If or when the trouble reappears, you’ll know that the last add-on you installed or modification you made is the likely culprit. Uninstall/remove that last change, and IE 11 should then behave properly.
Q. But what if resetting the browser doesn’t work?
The next steps depend on the Windows version you’re using; IE 11 is managed differently in Win7 and Win8.
► Windows 7: Uninstall and reinstall IE 11.
Here’s how to put a fresh copy of IE 11 on a Win7 system:
- Open Control Panel/Programs/Programs and Features.
- On the left side of the window, click View installed updates.
- Scroll down the resulting list. Under the Microsoft Windows heading, locate Internet Explorer 11, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. In Windows 7, IE 11 is a Windows Update item that can be uninstalled.
- Right-click the Internet Explorer 11 listing and then click Uninstall.
- In the “Uninstall an update” dialog box, click Yes.
- Click Restart now; Windows will remove IE 11 and reactivate the version of IE you were running before you installed IE 11.
- After the reboot, use any browser to download and install a fresh copy of IE 11 for Win7.
- When the fresh installation is complete, open Windows Update (Control Panel/System and Security/Windows Update) and click Check for Updates. Let IE get whatever updates are offered.
- Reboot. IE 11 should now be running normally.
► Windows 8: Verify IE 11 integrity.
IE 11 can’t be uninstalled from Win8 because it’s an integral part of the operating system. However, IE 11 can often be repaired by using sfc.exe, Windows’ built-in system-file checker. The tool replaces bad or corrupted system files with known-good copies.
To run sfc.exe, open an admin-level command window and then type:
Let the scan run to completion; then follow any on-screen instructions that appear.
If you encounter difficulty or would like more detailed instructions on using sfc.exe, see Microsoft Support article KB 929833.
If IE 11 is still malfunctioning, the problem is most likely caused by some third-party software outside the browser. An aggressive anti-malware tool, a VPN client, a password-keeper/form-filler, third-party firewall filters, or something similar could be interfering with the browser.
Open the Windows uninstaller tool and, one by one, try disabling or uninstalling any such software that might be messing with your browser. Test the browser after each uninstall, until you’ve identified the software that was causing trouble.
Once you’ve found the problematic third-party software, don’t reinstall it — find an alternative and use that instead.
(Originally published on Windows Secrets on Thursday, July 16, 2015.)
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