Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Firefox 3, or 4 (or 5)? + Turn Off the "Upgrade" Nag

A reader wrote in and asked a good question. The answer(s) will be good “general knowledge” even for those of you who are not currently running Mozilla’s Firefox web browser.

Q:If I may impose on you for information, have you upgraded Firefox to version 4.0.1? I keep saying no when the browser asks me, but my Mom let it upgrade.

Several things won’t work with V 4… Such as the ZoneAlarm browser toolbar and her HP All-In-One printer plugin.

She wants me to roll her FF version back to V 3.6.17 so those items will work, but I’m concerned about potential security issues.

Thank you

A: Dear Reader,
Yours is a very good question, and poses an interesting choice. And, it shows how two “rules of thumb” can sometimes contradict.

* For security, you always want to be running the latest version (and promptly apply any “updates”) of any software.

* Don’t buy version 1 of anything (aka “wait for the service pack”) unless you enjoy being a product guinea pig (aka “bug finder”).

In my mind, Firefox 4 (and the new beta of 5) is enough of a change as to qualify as a ‘new product’, (and also has compatibility issues with some of my add-ons) and so I will not install it until version 4.1 (or 4.2) is released (give the product some time to mature).

Yes, this (staying with FF 3) may (probably does) pose some security “risk”, and is certainly not a long-term answer — bullet point 1 should not be ignored and bullet point 2 will become ‘false’ as newer version of FF 4 are released (and the Add-ons authors update theirs to better work with FF4). In the meantime, while I await v4.1, I have turned off the “upgrade now?” prompt.

To avoid being nagged:
1) Click on the Tools menu, then click Options.

2) Click on the Advanced tab (gray gear icon).

3) Click on the Update tab in the Advanced window.


4) Un-ckeck the “Firefox” checkbox, and then click OK.

That’s it. Now the automated “there’s a new version” prompting will stop (Firefox’s updater will now be in “manual mode”… meaning it is up to you to check the availability of new versions. You can do this anytime by clicking the Help menu, then “Check for updates”).

* 5) [at some future date] When I do install a newer version, I will make sure the automatic update checking is re-enabled (by reversing these steps), as the first bullet point stated, I normally want automatic updating.

Today’s free download: If you find that you too want to revert to the last version of Firefox 3 (or.. contrarily, get the beta of 5) the download site FileHippo is my choice. FileHippo’s right-hand column contains a string of downloads, starting with the most recent, and (usually) going back all the way to the original release. Click here and scroll down that list to “version 3.6.17”. FileHippo is where I go when I need an older version.

Today’s quotable quote:If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.”  ~ Author Unknown

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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May 28, 2011 - Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, Firefox, free software, how to, Internet, PC, performance, tech, troubleshooting, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Good one Paul! I’m also holding off on the Firefox upgrade, both for the reasons you gave and because of the add-on incompatibility problems your reader had. A compatible version of the one incompatible add-on is available in a beta version, but I’m no where near THAT desperate!


    Comment by IzaakMak | May 28, 2011 | Reply

    • IzaakMak,
      I have every faith that the developers at Mozilla will promptly address every bug and glitch they discover/gets reported. And that the folks writing the add-ons will update their code (for compatibility) – but it takes some time.

      Now that I’m older.. I prefer stable over the-hot-new-thing. (And I am not going to sacrifice security plug-ins for a “cleaner look”, or.. 3 millisecond faster page load.)


      Comment by techpaul | May 28, 2011 | Reply

  2. If you really want to make your addons compatible, just install Mozilla’s Addon Compatibility Reporter. It forces the addons to be enabled even if they’re not compatible with the current version. ( A note though, most addons will work properly when forced to, but some will not.


    Comment by Ben | May 31, 2011 | Reply

  3. 1. For the rest of us its: Firefox->Preferences rather than Tools->Options.
    2. This turns off “automatically download and install the update” which I want. In other words, I want FF to automatically upgrade from 3.01 to 3.02, etc. I just don’t want the nag to update to FF 5.


    Comment by brandy2 | June 30, 2011 | Reply

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