Firefox to get Self-Heal feature

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 11, 2015
Updated • Mar 12, 2015

When you are currently running into troubles using Firefox, you have a couple of semi-automated and manual options to deal with those issues.

From trying to figure out what is wrong on your own, for instance by running Firefox in Safe Mode or resetting modified preferences, to creating a new profile or using the browser's reset feature.

This may change in the future for some issues when Mozilla introduces a self-repair feature in the browser.

Note: Both the term Self-Repair Server and Self-Heal are used by Mozilla. My best guess is that Self-Heal is the name of the feature of which Self-Repair Server is a part of.

Information about Self-Repair and Self-Heal are scarce at the moment. There is a blog post that mentions it briefly and a Github page hosting the server component.

According to the blog post, the Self-Repair Server is "part of an experimental system to have Firefox notice problems in the browser and proactively fix them itself".

Self-Heal was mentioned briefly in the Product Coordination Meeting a week ago.Skip to minute 4 and watch the next two minutes and you find Self-Heal mentioned in conjunction with the upcoming add-on signing feature.

From the looks of it, Self-Heal will be used by the browser to determine components that need fixing.  From the Github page, it appears as if the technology uses recipes to determine the status of a feature for now.

Mozilla has not revealed yet how this works in practice but from the looks of it it could be a mini-reset of sorts that restores core elements in Firefox.

If used in conjunction with add-on signing, it could be utilized to restore settings and elements in Firefox that were changed by malicious or problematic extensions. Think of search hijackers that change the browser's search engine or new tab page.

Self-Heal could be a killer feature depending on how it is implemented and the parts of the browser that it can repair.

Update: The Meta Bug is here which links to other Bugzilla listings. Probably most interesting is a document detailing the technical implementation of the feature. Here are its requirements as it stands now:

  1. Daily local background checks.
  2. Blocklist-like background functionality for disabling misbehaving plugins and add-ons.
  3. Users are notified when problems are discovered.
  4. After crash support.
Article Name
Firefox to get Self-Heal feature
Mozilla plans to integrate a self-repair feature in the Firefox web browser that may be called Self-Heal.

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  1. Jan1ce said on September 8, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    I know this is an old article. But I was wondering with over year’s worth of experience with this FF feature. Have most FF users on this blog decided to leave them on have decided to turn it off.

    Is it leaking memory or invading privacy? What are the pluses and minuses of leaving on or turning it off. I found an article on FF website on how to disable it. But I was wondering if disabling it is wise or not.

    Thanks in advance for any advice on this matter.

  2. Rony said on April 2, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    What are the security and privacy implications when Firefox phones home: / ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 2, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      I cannot say anything about security but for privacy, some information such as your IP address and location are transmitted. I don’t know if those are recorded by Mozilla.

  3. Lauren said on March 13, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I’m fed up of having to turn things OFF! in firefox. Every update now I expect another bad surprise, or uncover something they shouldnt have done with my settings months ago. I want a browser I can trust. Its starting to feel like google and microsoft where you need to be a nerd to know about all the hidden rubbish you got to disable that gives away all your info.

    I don’t have the time and energy for this when lots of other things waste my time too. “hay ill check your info with our cloud to make sure your safe”, “we added some cool things, but theyre a bit buggy, well leave them enabled in case you like them, but don’t worry theres some weirdly named settings burried away somewhere to turn them off if you find out hehe”…. NO!

  4. juju said on March 12, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Appears as if someone in mozilla doesn’t understand how browser should work. Firefox didn’t really add any revolutionary features since it was 3MB in size – now it’s 40MB in size and it’s unusable out of the box – forcing users to install multiple addons that shouldn’t be really needed. Self heal? More like they pretend to know how it should be.

    1. Maelish said on March 12, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      I wouldn’t say it’s unusable. In fact, it’s becoming more usable to me than Chrome these days.

  5. GunGunGun said on March 12, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Sound awesome but I dont think it is that awesome.

  6. Boris said on March 12, 2015 at 2:25 am

    I will have eventually change to none-Firefox based browser. I do not see other alternative anymore. The only self-healing feature I want is one that detect and fixes memory leaks. Please, Mozilla, unless you can do this part, do not introduce any new features. I grow tired of your team screw ups and increasingly sluggish browser performance. Fix you buggy code first, damn it.

  7. Karl said on March 11, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    And I’ll probaby still turn off all the add-ons, and turn them on by groups til I isolate my problems! LOL!

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