Lock down your browser versions if you run WebDriver tests

Recently our WebDriver tests that run in Chrome via a Windows service all suddenly stopped working even though we hadn’t made any changes to our tests. It seems Chrome had automatically updated itself on our WebDriver agents introducing a Chromium 38 bug meaning WebDriver won’t work at all (full details here and here). Getting these tests running again has been very painful, mainly due to Google not having standalone Chrome installers for any previous versions of Chrome publicly available.

If you run any WebDriver tests I highly recommend you lock down your browser versions to stop this happening to you in the future. Here’s how:


Firefox is fantastic in this regard as they make every back version easily accessible as well as a simple way on all platforms to stop automatic upgrades. I tend to lock down to Firefox ESRs (Extended Support Releases) such as versions 24 and 31 which are listed on this comprehensive Wikipedia page.

To stop updates all you do is open preferences, advanced, update and select ‘never’.

Firefox Prevent Updates


Chrome is a P.I.T.A. in both being able to install a previous version or lock down the currently installed one. Google prefer a Chrome web installer which always installs the latest version of Chrome, and if you want a specific version you need the alternate (offline) installer (for all users if you use a Windows service), but they only provide the latest installer. It’s hard if not impossible to find older alternate (offline) installers on the web, even oldapps.com can’t host them.

Once you have a version of Chrome on Windows that you want to keep, you need to download a group policy template, and disable automatic updates before running Chrome (so it doesn’t automatically update before you set the group policy). I won’t go into full details but you should be able to find all details here. Some sites mention using a plugin to stop updates but this doesn’t work so you’ll need to go down the group policy path.


Locking down browser versions avoids having to suddenly work out why your entire WebDriver test suite fails.

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.

1 thought on “Lock down your browser versions if you run WebDriver tests”

  1. I remember we used to have to terrible trouble even logging in as the user the build agent was running automated tests as, to untick the box on FF! And it still used to “forget” on a regular basis.


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