Firefox, Heal Thyself

Johnathan Nightingale

This week’s release of Firefox includes the beginning of a pretty cool feature. The Firefox Health Report is a new system we’ve built to log basic health information about your browser (time to start up, total running time, number of crashes, &c), and then give you tools to understand that information and fix any problems you encounter. The initial report is pretty simple, but it will evolve and grow in the coming months. You’ll be able to use it as a window into many aspects of your browser’s performance and health, both in absolute terms, as well as in comparison to the global Firefox user base.

We’ve blogged before about how we’ve built the health report with privacy in mind and what our plans for it look like, but our long term hope for the feature goes well beyond the report you see today. As the health report uncovers patterns of problems in Firefox, we can build better support information for our users. In many cases, we will be able to detect these problems before they get out of hand, and your browser can start healing itself. The health report is enabled by default in Firefox but, if you don’t want your browser health information added to the pool, you can disable data sending either from the report itself, or from the Firefox preferences window.

Firefox already protects and heals itself in numerous ways (automatically blocking insecure and unstable plugins, restoring tabs and content after crashes, detecting phishing and malware sites before they can attack) and the Firefox Health Report gives us a powerful new tool. If you’re curious about what’s going on under the hood, you can find the health report in your Help menu. If you’re not, rest assured that we’re fascinated by this stuff, and we’ll use it to make Firefox the smoothest, fastest, most excellent way for you to live your life on the web.

Johnathan Nightingale
Vice President of Firefox Engineering