Sluggish Firefox? This quick 'fix' might help

If your browser seems to get gummed up at times, try closing any tabs that have embedded videos.

For months now, I've been grappling with a weird problem: At seemingly random times, Firefox would turn to molasses. I'd click a link and it would take several seconds to register. Or I'd open a dialog box in, say, a blog tool, and again there'd be an unusual delay. Even the simple act of scrolling proved weirdly "sticky."

I was hoping that the recently released Firefox 3.6 update might shake loose whatever detritus was gumming up the works, but, alas, it didn't.

Finally, I discovered the culprit, and it's a head-scratcher: The slow-downs occur only when I've left open a tab containing an embedded video, like of the YouTube variety. When I close said tab, Firefox quickly returns to its quick-stepping self.

Weird, right? Obviously this isn't a widespread problem, otherwise more people would have reported it. I suspect that one of my Firefox extensions (I run about 15 of them) is causing a conflict with Flash, the software that powers most embedded videos.

But that's just a guess on my part. While I'm working to solve the problem for good, my short-term solution is probably pretty obvious: Close any tabs that have embedded videos.

And my lesson for you is this: When weird problems arise, don't overreact. A lot of users would interpret random browser slowdowns as the work of a virus. Or a serious Windows malfunction requiring no less than a system wipe/restore. But glitches like this are par for the course, and with a little patience and methodical troubleshooting, they're almost always curable.

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Rick Broida

PC World (US online)
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