What is causing fluctuating cpu usage spikes when using firefox?

Discussion in 'General Software' started by DaRuSsIaMaN, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. DaRuSsIaMaN

    DaRuSsIaMaN Geek Comrade

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    It's probably best if you start by just looking at the attached screenshot.

    See the cpu spikes in the usage history? I've been experiencing this type of thing a lot when browsing online. I have watched the list of processes, and I see that these cpu usage spikes all happen in firefox. I can't quite figure out why it keeps doing that, although I have some theories. It can get really annoying, though. For example, as I'm typing this post, sometimes the letters stop showing up for a second as I'm typing... and then it "unfreezes" and everything I typed in the meantime comes out all at once. (Meanwhile I see the cpu spike in my performance tracking software)

    I am pretty sure that the websites I have open affect this. For example, I think if I have gmail open, or the igoogle page, it seems to do this a lot more. I have tested having just a blank page of firefox open, nothing else, and the described phenomenon went away entirely.

    But still, I want to know what more knowledgeable people think: is this a reasonable explanation? That some certain websites cause it but not others? Or am I missing some piece(s) of the puzzle?
     

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  2. Hyperion

    Hyperion Geek Trainee

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    Dude thats completely normal..no need to worry unless u got malware..(run antivirus scans and spybot)..different websites use varying amounts of CPU and memory as well..sometimes my firefox takes 23k memory and sometimes 118k memory..depending on the website..
     
  3. DaRuSsIaMaN

    DaRuSsIaMaN Geek Comrade

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    Alright. Well it's not so much that I'm worried... it's just that it's annoying because it often interrupts smooth playback of online videos, like YouTube videos. I try to watch them, and they freeze periodically and then start up again having skipped a second or two of footage. So I've been trying to figure out how to eliminate it so that I can watch videos smoothly without any hiccups.

    Oh yeah, and I'm sure it's not malware since I know how to avoid that stuff, have an antivirus running 100% of the time, and I do checks with spybot every once in a while, and it never finds anything.
     
  4. luke992006

    luke992006 Geek Trainee

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    ^that is most likely your internet connection, not the spike in cpu usage (which again is completly normal)
     
  5. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    If you see weird memory spikes or performance hiccups with Firefox, try disabling any plugins you might have installed and testing the browser. Then you can re-enable them one at a time to identify the culprit.

    I've had friends complain of Firefox having severe memory leaks in the past, and it turned out to be an amateurishly-written browser plugin misbehaving. Then again, if your biggest problem is youtube videos stuttering, it's probably just something mundane like normal internet congestion.
     
  6. luke992006

    luke992006 Geek Trainee

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    ^yeah the older versions of FF had some memory leak problems, but the current version is quite good, no worse then chrome, opera, IE, ect
     
  7. Ferg

    Ferg Manbearpig

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    Have you updated your network adapters drivers recently? I had something like this till i rolled them back (it was stuttering the whole computer!) and all is sweet again now :)
     
  8. Ghostman 1

    Ghostman 1 Moderator Staff Member

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    How big is your power supply ? It could be under a strain...Plus when doing this how many windows are open ?
     
  9. DaRuSsIaMaN

    DaRuSsIaMaN Geek Comrade

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    @ AT and luke... But how is it internet related if it's precisely correlated with the cpu spikes? The cpu spikes (which I show in my screenshot) do not happen independently of my video stuttering; instead, they happen at precisely the same moments. I watch both, and they occur simultaneously. (I have that utility seen in screenshot running alongside with the video.) So, given that the cpu spikes exactly correspond to the stuttering, how can this be internet related?

    Secondly, it's not only the videos that stutter. I'm pretty sure my entire computer stutters. For instance, if I am typing up a post on this forum, new text will stop appearing onscreen for a second, and then suddenly all that was typed in the meantime will spill out onscreen all at once. I'm pretty sure a few times I've also experienced it jamming my scrolling. If I'm scrolling a page by dragging the scroll bar, it would freeze (stop scrolling) and then "jump" to where it would have been, had it continued scrolling smoothly. But I don't remember this last example very well.

    **

    I want to address more of what you guys said (e.g. Ghostman) but let's take it one thing at a time, and I don't want to make my posts too long. So, waiting for new replies.
    Thanks!! :)
     
  10. Ghostman 1

    Ghostman 1 Moderator Staff Member

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    This is not a internet issue , but a computer issue..Either Power supply or Ram problem...
    How much ram does this computer have ?
     
  11. luke992006

    luke992006 Geek Trainee

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    (did not know this was happening at precisly te same time.) anyway, i doubt it is a power supply problem, that would be the last thing i would guess right now. I would check temps,(coretemp, hwmonitor, ect)
     
  12. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    If the stutters are happening at the same moment as the spikes, it's probably not congestion. :p But have you tried disabling all of your FF extensions like I've recommended?

    Also, might want to do some malware sweeps and make sure your slowdown isn't just a wave of spam emails your computer's in the process of sending out. :eek:

    Finally, if you run an AV full-time it could even be that, trying to catch up in real-time scanning the content you're streaming.
     
  13. DaRuSsIaMaN

    DaRuSsIaMaN Geek Comrade

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    Holy crap, it's been like an entire month! I'm sorry guys, I normally follow through with my threads all the way, but I got really slammed with summer school and then other things and and ... etc. Anyway, let me try to resurrect this thread.

    @AT, about your recommendation, I've got your incriminating evidence. I think. I disabled ALL extensions one by one. Then I restarted FF and left it at all the exact same websites/windows as before.

    Here are the screenshots. It appears to definitely still be happening :(, although possibly less frequently? *shrug The middle screenshot captured one of the multiple instances I saw of cpu spike specifically attributed to FF. You might notice the spikes are smaller... probably but I think they become smaller in any case when I simply restart FF after using it for a while, regardless of extensions. (I tried that right before disabling extensions.) Secondly, since I started this thread, I also "upgraded" my processor from an athlon xp 1800+ to an axp 2500+ barton (don't laugh at my dinosaur collection :p), so it might also make spikes smaller if the cpu can handle the load better?

    **

    @Ghostman, about your question, right now I have 1 Gig RAM. When I first made this thread, I had 1.5GB. The RAM sticks are all the same as b4, just took 1 out.

    **

    P.S. One last detail, though... I did leave themes (aka skins) enabled. That should not matter, right? I only disabled all extensions.
     

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  14. xbeatle

    xbeatle Geek Trainee

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    Russianman, you are not imagining this...there's a whole slew of reports on the net of the exact same issue..I'm suffering from it too.
    I mean, okay I can remove all my FF Add-On's but then, why use FF?

    My biggest culprit is Gmail or for that matter, typing in most any website's text box while using Google as my browser..while typing, the FF CPU use jumps from 20 to 95 for 10 seconds and back down to 20..enough time to cause these freezes and thus, mis-typing..and that's with only 1 or 2 tabs in use..if I've got multiple tabs open, don't even ask about that..what an annoyance. :eek:

    Anyway, I've seen every kind of "cure" including the above suggested Power Cord one..lol

    Bottom line, in my scenario there's no such issue when writing emails on AOL..I believe it's definitely a FF/GOOGLE issue and it's a bummer.

    Seems like the only cure I've been able to come up with is to have 2 FF profiles open..1 where I utilize all key Add-Ons(which I really like and rely on) and the other with barely any and use this one to do my typing....BUMMER. :(

    J.
     
  15. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    I use FF 3.5 and and Google all day long with no such issues. Of course, I am not using Windows, but rather Debian and OS X. On these platforms at least, performance is very consistent. So I wouldn't say it's a Firefox or Google issue per se, but perhaps some combination of the way those things run on Windows specifically.
     
  16. xbeatle

    xbeatle Geek Trainee

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    you are correct Sir..I tend to make assumptions when I'm hot on a topic.

    That being said, I just tried a Flash Blocker(flashblock.com) as I've read that it could be Flash related and so far, so good(it's been 10 minutes and am slowly building up my open tabs..lol)

    Or another possible variable is my HP computer in conjunction with Windows XP, FF and Google.

    All I know is if I have more than 5 tabs open in FF I see the CPU spikes..even when I use another profile that has no Add-Ons. there they are..SPIKES..although I admit the no Add-On alternative is less troublesome. Then, I open AOL, with all those FF tabs still open and running and walla, I can type away to my hearts content with no such problem.

    I knew if I looked hard enough I'd find an AOL advantage :p
     
  17. DaRuSsIaMaN

    DaRuSsIaMaN Geek Comrade

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    lol!

    Wait, are you saying you use the AOL web browser?? *throws up* Does that thing even still exist?? *throws up again*

    **

    I have several other questions for you, please.

    1.) First, do you have any links to any other such reports like mine? Would you kindly provide any? I tried asking around on a few other forums, and it felt as if no one else neither experiences nor has ever heard of this issue. I'm really curious to see others reporting/discussing it...

    2.) Secondly, what are your system specs? It sounds like it's affecting you worse than me... is your system older than mine? I'd like to know if this effect can be mitigated if you just use a new comp. Maybe that's why there are not too many reports on this? Most people have significantly newer systems than mine, and the spikes don't make enough of a dent in system performance to be noticeable?


    Finally, I just want to clarify a few things to 100% certain about what you said. You're saying that you experience the same symptoms in Google's Chrome browser, correct? And, you also see see the cpu spikes (like I do) even when all extensions are disabled right? But you also notice that they are less conspicuous/troublesome but nevertheless still present. Right?

    Thanks for your input! Makes me feel better that at least my issue looks legit now and not as if some nut is trying to report a UFO sighting or something... :D
     
  18. xbeatle

    xbeatle Geek Trainee

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    Yup, I still have AOL..and you know what, I'm glad I still do as this FF issue is killing me...Let me clarify, it's an issue with FF and ANY time I have multiple tabs open or lots going on(itunes going or any Internet radio station..etc) and I'm trying to write something..whether that be on Gmail or adding comments to a website. The reason for my concern is the same exact scenario but this time inputting text in AOL is NOT an issue. So, why with FF?

    Here are two links that address the issue:

    Debugging/Troubleshooting Random CPU Spikes Firefox 3 3.1b2 • mozillaZine Forums

    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=444116

    I have an HP Pavilion 790 N:
    Windows XP Home Edition Version 2002 Service Pack 3
    Pentium 4 Cpu 2.20GHz
    1 GB of RAM with about 50% Free(I know this is a bit low these days and could be contributing to problem)

    And negative, I don't use Google Chrome and can't vouch/don't remember a time when I had no Add-On's. I will say that I presently run around 15 Add-Ons on 1 profle and 3 on another and yes, CPU spikes are clearly less of a problem on the latter. That being said, I need to compare having 15-20 tabs open in one profile vs. 1 tab open in the other profile which only has 2-3 Add-Ons..as I haven't done that comparison yet.

    And lastly, I can see some improvement using the Flash blocker with the profile I prefer to use..the one with all the essential Add-Ons..No Squint, Cool Preview, Read it Later, XMarks, Too Many Tabs, Cache cleaner......
     
  19. Anti-Trend

    Anti-Trend Nonconformist Geek Staff Member

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    It's not the quantity of plugins that can cause issues, but the quality. For instance, if one plugin is constantly scaling images in the background, you'll naturally see CPU and possibly memory spikes. Another plugin that is just plain poorly written might leak memory like a sieve and spend CPU cycles just out of pure inefficiency. It just depends. :)

    As I said though, I don't see any CPU or memory spikes in Firefox in Linux. My currently active Firefox addons, who's quality I can vouch for:

     
  20. DaRuSsIaMaN

    DaRuSsIaMaN Geek Comrade

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    Well, to resurrect this thread ... according to other people who submitted reports of this, it has nothing to do with add-ons, since it happens even with zero add-ons.

    xbeatle's second link is a good one:
    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=444116

    Comments like #15, #35 indicate that people have tested the total strip-down approach of disabling everything they could, yet the problem still happens ... as it did for me, too, described in post #13 (although I didn't disable skins).
     

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