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I'm mostly wondering about the mechanism behind how some webpages can cause my computer to almost freeze. This happened a couple of times to me in either Firefox or Chrome (the only two browsers I really use). I suspect the root cause is usually Flash though. Here are the specs on my computer:

Windows 7 x64
i7 920 overclocked to 3.8ghz
6gb of RAM
300gb VelociRaptor system drive
Radeon 4850

Whenever my computer semi-freezes when opening a web page, alt-ctrl-del still works but I can't get task manager to open. I get out of the situation by clicking the tab's close button over and over again until it closes or Chrome pops up a dialog which says that a plug-in has stopped responding and asks me whether I want to terminate it.

So I'm wondering, what could be going on in the background when this happens? Is the browser somehow tying up all 4 cores? (Seems unlikely because I've tried running 8 threads of Prime95, played a Blu-Ray movie, and played Dragon Age all at the same time with no noticeable slowdown) It can't be a disk IO issue because the HD is always idle the whole time. What else could it be?

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Perhaps broken extensions? –  Ivo Flipse Feb 2 '10 at 7:07
    
I've seen this only recently where Windows Explorer (hence the task bar, and start menu, launching, etc) stop responding for a large number of seconds. It's sometimes related to Adobe Reader, other times it seems to be some other plugin, but unlikely to be Flash since I run with it disabled for most sites. It also happens a lot when waiting on a VPN network directory. –  Lawrence Dol Feb 2 '10 at 19:57

2 Answers 2

Try disabling your virus protection and/or firewall long enough to see if that's the cause. Some other possible causes are various tasks checking for updates, etc., in the background. See what tasks and services are being loaded at startup.

Sometimes, Windows will cause a problem similar to this when waiting on the contents of a directory. Also, sometimes this will happen when an application is waiting on the network or searching for a previously available network folder that is closed. Also, this can happen when an application is waiting for a drive that is missing, such as the a: drive, or a malfunctioning cd/dvd drive.

Some of these things are not directly related to the browser, but the use of the browser and internet can trigger them.

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Try disabling add-ons and plug-ins, or run Firefox in safe mode for a few days to see if the problem vanishes. I found several loaded examples of one plug-in caused a similar problem in Firefox.

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