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Originally published Friday, August 2, 2013 at 3:52 PM

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Erroneous error message likely due to add-on program

A Firefox user receiving nuisance “stopped working” error messages may have an add-on that was installed inadvertently with another program. It’s a common problem and not difficult to fix, although some trial and error may be necessary.

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Q: Several times each day I get an error message: “Firefox has stopped working,” and am left with two choices: “Check online for a solution and close the program” and “Close the program.”

If I choose the check online option, I see a progress bar for a few seconds and then nothing. When I check Task Manager, nothing is running. If I choose to close the program, the error message goes away and I can continue as though nothing happened. I have removed and reinstalled Firefox. Ideas?

— Bob Gardner

A: By far, the most common cause of this problem is a misbehaving add-on. And it may be an add-on you don’t use and aren’t aware of.

That’s because some software providers have an irritating habit of installing additional programs when you install their program. Yes, they usually ask if you want to install those additional programs during the installation process, but I can’t count how many times I’ve clicked right through those prompts without noticing until it was too late.

So what to do? Click on the Firefox button in the upper-left corner and then select Add-Ons. You’ll see a list of all your add-ons, and you can disable or remove the ones you don’t want. It may take a little trial and error to locate the offending add-on.

Q: When I boot up my laptop, I get a message telling me it does not recognize the battery so it cannot charge it. It gives me a choice of clicking on F1, F2 or F3. I click on F1 because I don’t know what to do on the other two choices. I have a Vista system and I keep the computer plugged into the electricity so don’t really need the battery, but I don’t like warning messages. Can you help?

— Elaine Stark

A: You don’t say what brand and model of your computer, so I can’t say for sure this step will eliminate the error message, but I’m guessing it will: Remove the battery.

It’s not uncommon, by the way, for batteries to go bad after a few years. And it’s tempting to replace them with less expensive, non-brand replacement batteries.

In my experience, however, I’ve found that the non-brand replacements often go bad much more quickly. As a result, I generally recommend paying extra for the real deal.

Q: After we use our home computer, we always run an anti-virus scan (Norton 360). However, we are experiencing a situation where our computer does not shut down after the completion of the scan. We have to manually shut it down and restart it. When the computer restarts, it is very slow, sluggish and impossible to operate.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions as to why this is happening?

— Hideko Go

A: My guess is that you either have some malware on the computer or a misbehaving program. The fact that the computer is slow after a restart leans me toward the malware theory.

Anti-virus programs are important, but they don’t protect you from all threats. I’d recommend downloading one or more anti-malware programs to see what they can find. My personal favorite is Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, which you can download at malwarebytes.org.

Q: I am plagued by chronic redirects while using Firefox. You recommended the add-on Redirect Remover. The online posts reviewing the add-on are mixed, as are the reviews for the sister add-on Redirect Cleaner.

Have you reviewed both, and can you recommend one over the other? Are they largely benign, or am I importing a potential for a host of other problems? I employ Microsoft Security Essentials, with regular full scans.

— Bruce Northey

A: I have tried Redirect Remover as well as Redirect Cleaner, and I had no problems with the product. (I don’t, however, recall recommending either product.) Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with the latest version of Firefox. For security reasons, it’s important to use the latest version of the browser, so I’d opt for Redirect Cleaner.

For those who don’t know, the main reason to block Webpage redirects is that they are often used by scammers to take you to places you don’t want to go.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail to Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/

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