Be cautious with Notepad++

I use Microsoft Windows 7 RC on my main desktop computer since June 2009. Since there were no Windows ports of my favorite editors in Linux (gedit on Fedora/CentOS), I decided to use Notepad++, an open-source source code editor and Notepad replacement, which is released as free-software. Soon I noticed signs that the application might not be as robust as expected, as I experienced random freezes quite often.

I recall that there was a time that I had lost all of my open and unsaved documents due to an application freeze. After checking their bug trackers and help forums on SourceForge for more information and hopefully for a solution to the problem, it was suggested that one of the plugins could be causing the freezing problem. The suggested approach was to try to reproduce the issue, by enabling the plugins in turns. At that time, I did not have the necessary free time to experiment with the editor, so I had disabled the whole plugin system, just to be sure that my data would be safe.

Two days ago, I upgraded the program to the latest version and, during installation and without giving it much thought, I installed the application’s plugin system and a plugin called “Document Monitor“. This morning my system experienced another Notepad++ freeze, and right after that incident, I once again decided to disable Notepad++’s plugin system and I do not have any intention to use any of its plugins ever again. I continue to use the core editor, but I am also looking for alternatives. I mainly use a text editor for plain text and HTML documents, Python, PHP and BASH scripts. Any other suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

Update 2016-11-23

While doing maintenance work on my web site, I stumbled upon this old post and thought it would be a good idea to add some up to date information about it. FYI, despite my quest for alternative editors for the Windows platform, I ended up using Notepad++ for all these years. After very heavy use, my final conclusion is that the core application is very robust. There had been times that a huge number of text files were open in it for many days, if not weeks, and there have been absolutely no problems at all. Unfortunately, I never happened to test any of the program’s plugins again. Any possible issues should have been resolved by now, but to be honest I’m still hesitant to enable the plugin system. Besides, I don’t really need any extra functionality. The core application does the job very well, I’ve been very happy with it and I can safely say it’s an exceptional piece of work.

Be cautious with Notepad++ by George Notaras is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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About George Notaras

George Notaras is the editor of the G-Loaded Journal, a technical blog about Free and Open-Source Software. George, among other things, is an enthusiast self-taught GNU/Linux system administrator. He has created this web site to share the IT knowledge and experience he has gained over the years with other people. George primarily uses CentOS and Fedora. He has also developed some open-source software projects in his spare time.

24 responses on “Be cautious with Notepad++

  1. George Notaras Post authorPermalink →

    Hi Joe. It seems that it has all the features I would ever need. Configuration files are not a problem. Will definitely give it a try. Thanks! :)

  2. Giorgos Keramidas Permalink →

    Using a larger editor than GEdit may not be exactly what you had in mind, but there is a native build of GNU Emacs for Windows.

    Google for “emacs win32” and you will easily locate Lennard’s snapshots. The snapshots (kindly provided by Lennard Morgan) work very nicely on Win32 systems.

    FWIW, the latest Emacs Win32 snapshot is one of the first things I install on top of Windows.

  3. John Tsiombikas Permalink →

    Start using a real editor. Vim for instance is cross-platform and runs on windows just fine.

  4. George Notaras Post authorPermalink →

    @Joe: Checked out SciTE (wscite). This is almost the same editor as Notepad++ without the plugins. They are both based on Scintilla, so I should have expected this. BTW, wscite.exe loads very fast and has many options to adjust. I’ll keep it for further experimentation.

    @George: Just tried Emacs for win32. This was the first time I tried this … suite of applications! It even had games! This is indeed too large for my needs, but I’ll keep it around to explore it. I used the patched version. Also, Lisp knowledge seems to be a mandatory requirement in order to reveal all the potential of Emacs.

    @Mike & @John: I believe that text editors are not like the other software one may use. They are strictly a personal matter. I’ll be straight with you. It’s not me that I do not like Vim. It’s Vim that is *not* usable! :) It is installed by default on any Linux system I’ve ever used, but I always end up using Joe’s Own Editor (joe) or mcedit. BTW, I didn’t know there was a windows port of Vim. Never thought to check. Thanks for letting me know.

    Thanks all for your feedback! :)

  5. Giorgos Keramidas Permalink →

    George N. you don’t have to learn Emacs Lisp to start using GNU Emacs effectively.

    Being able to read and “grok” a bit of Emacs Lisp after 3-4 months of using Emacs certainly helps a lot, but don’t feel scared about it. You can (mostly) ignore Lisp when you start using Emacs and focus on learning to navigate the menus, on understanding the UI, and on learning a few basic editing commands.

    The rest comes semi-naturally over time :-)

  6. Nick Permalink →

    I can honestly say that I’ve been running Notepad++ on Vista for nearly a yr and not had any stability issues, I’ve upgraded it a few times to play with new features and am currently running V5.4.3.

    I hope you find your compatibility issues, as I was thinking about upgrading to 7 but couldn’t live without np++ :D

    good luck!

  7. John Tsiombikas Permalink →

    Vi is perfectly usable, it’s your problem if you can’t understand how to use a program that has been used effectively by millions of people since the mid-70s.

  8. George Notaras Post authorPermalink →

    @Nick: Good to hear that someone uses this application without issues. Probably there is an incompatibility with Win7 RC. I intend to keep windows on one of my desktops, so I hope that the issues I encounter with npp are temporary. Thanks for you feedback.

    @John: OK, if you put it this way, yes it’s my problem I guess :) Anyway, I do not have any problem using vim on the console when neither joe or mcedit are available, but, if there is a graphical environment around, chances are that I use an editor with a GUI. That’s because graphical software offers a workspace, where most people can work faster. Again, as I wrote earlier, the text editor is a personal matter. Thanks for your comment.

  9. George Notaras Post authorPermalink →

    Hi. I’ve mentioned earlier that, when it comes to text editing under a graphical environment, I prefer to use text editors with which I am more productive. Unfortunately, gvim is not one of them. It’s a good alternative though.

    On the other hand, I would highly recommend SciTE or even notepad++ (without the plugins).

    Thanks for stopping by.

  10. tux. Permalink →

    I can’t see how you can be more productive with SciTE … :-)
    Using a toolbar and hotkeys is common to them.

    My posting was just about your GUI note. :)

    No problem…

  11. George Notaras Post authorPermalink →

    I guess, in this case, it’s what people usually say: the text editor is a personal choice. While I highly respect vim/gvim as an editor, its modes of operation and the general setup seem so anti-productive to me. :)

  12. tux. Permalink →

    Depends. Once you got used to them …. :-)

    But I don’t want to persuade you. After all it’s a matter of taste indeed. Notepad++ does not really work fine with large numbers of files, though.

  13. Linux And Friends Permalink →

    Notepad++ is my favourite Windows editor. I have been using Notepad++ in Windows 7 since a couple of months. I have never had any freeze so cannot comment on your bad experience. If you find Notepad++ difficult to use, you can also try out Ultraedit which is also brimming with features. However, it is a shareware product. It is also available for Linux.

    SciTE is also a very good programmers text editor though it doesn’t have all the features found in Notepad++.

  14. ARS Permalink →

    Use this.

    Syn is highly customizable text and programming editor. Syn features syntax highlighting for many languages, active scripting, macro recording, the ability to launch a program (e.g. a Compiler) and capture the output, support for projects, etc.

  15. George Notaras Post authorPermalink →

    @ARS: Thanks. Syn looks interesting. The only thing that puzzles me though is whether it is an actively developed project or not.

  16. George Notaras Post authorPermalink →

    @Robert: I stare at the monitor and try to explain to myself why I didn’t see this! :D

    Thanks for letting me know.

  17. Mohammad Permalink →

    Yeb. Same issue. I’ve been using Notepad++ for nearly two years. The freezing sometimes happened. But something even worse happened to me today. I was editing a PHP file and always ended up having this big hidden line break in the rendered html. I thought maybe It’s my problem with the margins and html and css codes. But in the end I opened the file with Emacs and I found a very strange hidden character inside which was not visible in Notepad++. I tried different things like the encodings and all in Notepad++ but the character didn’t show itself. I’m gonna use Emacs from now on.

  18. CupofDenial Permalink →

    Notepad++ has been my favourite editor for a long time. I have been running it on Vista for a long time without any issues. However, on Wind7 I have been experiencing many freezing problems! Just too many! I hope there will be some fixes soon.

  19. George Notaras Post authorPermalink →

    @CupofDenial: Notepad++ is still my main text editor when I use a Windows 7 machine. At installation time, I deselected the whole plugin system of the program. Never had a single freezing issue since then. Hope this helps.