well i may just indicate a couple of tricks that sometimes help

1) the first is obviously in case of apparent freezing do nothing...let a
chance to gimp to process all data even if that may take (i.e if not
sufficient Ram) a very long time

So do not click or do nothing (including use of other SW )for a while 

Crashes at least for bundled tools and plugin are rare, and usually reported
by popping out error message..if no error messages pop out good chances that
Gimp/the OS is simply too busy to process data and so can't be responsive to
other users input, or do nothing else for a while

Also start Gimp from console in verbose mode may help... in case of apparent
freezing a look to the console output may help to know if gimp is busy to
slowly process a big amount of data or if something wrong happened and waiting
will be only delusive
A extreme case from my experience i used gimp to do some complex mapping
operations   (creating 300 additional interpolated layers for a animation) on
a already very heavy image

That totally frozen not only gimp but all the OS for
all the afternoon..anyway i decided to not arrest the apparently frozen PC
before going to sleep

And the morning after i had a nice surprise everything was correctly

.note was a extreme case ,and the result of a wrong procedure..final size of
the SAVED image was absolutely unreasonable (more then 6 GB .and much more
needed to reopen with gimp )

But is just a example to explain that freezing may be only apparent even if
nothing happens for hours 

>Linux Debian unstable + The GIMP 2.6.5 editing an image of about
>4000x3000 pixels creating and destroying layers trying to find the best
>sets for a effect.
>At one point the OS was become unresponsive and at the bottom bar of
>GIMP, the displayed size showed more than 1,4GB. Then I?ve typed CTRL+S
>to save and after waiting about 15 minutes I?ve pressed the reset
>After restarting, the file had 0 size. I had to recover it from a
>backup, losing all the work I did and saved in the file previously in
>the morning.(*)
>The questions are:
>How can I control the memory usage of The GIMP?
>   I supose that tweaking the different settings in environmet
>prefences, but I am not sure how to count it, should I sum max mem for
>undo to max mem for cache in order to get the maximum of memory I am
>allowing to The GIMP?
>Are there other settings affecting the memory usage?
>Will a feature request of "indirect saving" be taked in account?, Say
>save to a newtmp file,
>then copy/move the main file to oldtmp file,
>then move newtmp file to main file
>then remove oldtmp file.
>This should ensure that a system crash in the middle of a save operation
>will be recoverable.
>And finally, will a feature request of auto-backup be taked in account? 
>(*) This is not exactly true, as I?ve said, I was trying and
>_discarding_ settings and procedures to get a desired effect, so after
>recovering the file from the backup I was able to get the final result
>in about 30 minutes of work :)

photocomix (via www.gimpusers.com)
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