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Solved: Firefox is hogging nearly 100% of cpu. Why?


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Riverglen   (Larry) Riverglen is offline
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15-Aug-2013, 09:58 PM #1
Solved: Firefox is hogging nearly 100% of cpu. Why?
I have Firefox running on two machines, an XP-SP3 pro desktop and a Win-7 Home Premium laptop. A week or so ago I noticed that when I open Firefox on the Win-7 machine, the CPU load immediately goes to very nearly 100% and stays that way continuously for as long as I keep the browser open. The other odd thing is that Firefox seems to be normally responsive despite the very high CPU load.

This does not happen on the XP box. The fraction of the CPU load attributable to Firefox on that machine never seems to rise much above the mid teens.

I doesn't seem to make any difference whether I am viewing a complex page or a simple static one. At the moment, I am running both machines side by side, on a VERY simple personal web page. The Win 7 CPU load has been continuously above 95%, virtually all of it going to Firefox. The win XP box (on which I am typing this post) is showing a sort of spikey CPU load history, but the average is probably around 10%.

Both installations of the program are the latest Firefox version (23). I'm not sure whether the onset of the problem was before or after version 23 was released, but I think it was probably around that time.

Can anyone explain this? At this point I'm wondering if I'm dealing with some sort of infection. But a quick scan with MSE and a full scan with Malewarebytes didn't turn up anything.
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Ent   (Josiah) Ent is offline Ent is a Trusted Advisor with special permissions.
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16-Aug-2013, 09:36 AM #2
Try running the Win-7 one in Firefox's safe mode to make sure it isn't any of your browser extensions playing up.
https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb...sing-safe-mode

Note this is not related to Windows safe mode.
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16-Aug-2013, 09:48 AM #3
Hi Jossiah,

Thanks for your suggestion. I wasn't aware that Firefox has a safe mode. Took a quick look for it and didn't find a way to start or switch to safe mode, so I need a little help.

For what it's worth, I haven't changed any of the add-ons that I use for a long time. But I suppose that it is possible that something updated itself without my notice. And I think that the add-ons that I do use are the same in both installations.
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16-Aug-2013, 09:55 AM #4
All the instructions for using firefox safe mode are in the link I provided.
Click Help then click "Restart with Add-ons Disabled..."


If that doesn't work, have a look at some of these Mozilla help articles:
https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb...ources-how-fix
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Firefox_CPU_usage

Last edited by Ent; 16-Aug-2013 at 10:06 AM..
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16-Aug-2013, 12:32 PM #5
OOP! I read right over the link you referenced without even noticing it.

But the good news is that your suggestion solved the problem. Restarting in safe mode restored normal operation. With that information I was able to isolate the offending add-on by selectively disabling them one by one. Turned out that the problem is caused by a tracker blocker called Ghostery. And as it turns out I have different versions on the two machines. On the XP machine, the version is 2.9.6, but on the Win-7 machine the version is 5.0.1.

On both machines, the Ghostery app is set to update itself automatically. The last update on the XP box was on June 29. On the Win-7 box the most recent update was on August 13. Interesting. Maybe there are separate versions that are specific to the version of Windows they are running under? Seems kind of unlikely.

At any rate, thanks again for pointing me in the right direction. I'll just keep the app disabled on the Win-7 box until, hopefully, they come up with a never version that fixes the problem.
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16-Aug-2013, 12:41 PM #6
Interesting, the firefox extensions site says the most recent version of Ghostery is 2.9.6
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/fir...ddon/ghostery/

Since that's still meant to be compatible, I'd go with that version.
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16-Aug-2013, 01:06 PM #7
Hmmm... That IS interesting. Wonder how I wound up with a version 5.0.1? I guess that I will uninstall the version that I have and replace it with the copy from the Mozilla site. Of course, that's where I originally obtained the copy I already have, albeit probably an earlier version.
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16-Aug-2013, 01:12 PM #8
Just looked at the Mozilla page for Ghostery, and I found that you can install a development version, and once you do that, you will continue getting development updates. And the current (beta) version is 5.0.2. So, for reasons unknown, I may be on the development version? Certainly didn't do that intentionally.
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16-Aug-2013, 01:16 PM #9
That would explain it!
The official page seems to be offering version 5.

If you're feeling in a particularly generous mood, you could always send them a message about your problem.
https://getsatisfaction.com/ghostery#problem
Programmers try their hardest, but they can't fix bugs if they don't know about them.
Of course that's entirely up to you.
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17-Aug-2013, 10:09 AM #10
An interesting post script. I brought up Firefox on the XP machine this morning and was presented with a "Welcome to Ghostery 5.0.3" page. So they have released a new version to the world. I replaced the problematical version that on the Win 7 machine with 2.9.6, the latest version from Mozilla, and it is working fine on that machine. So far, the 5.0.3 version on the XP machine seems to be working fine. So, maybe they found and fixed a bug in 5.0.2.
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17-Aug-2013, 10:11 AM #11
We can only hope so.
Thanks for letting me know.
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