Last night I started experiencing some serious FireFox startup slowdowns. When clicking on the start icon for FireFox, it would take 20-30 seconds before FireFox would start up. This started up all of a sudden. I’m still installing the odd application on my repaved Windows 7 machine and last night I installed Skype and after a while I figured that these two things must be related. Indeed they are.
The slowness occurs when FireFox is started – I click on the icon and the hour glass wheel just spins away over the icon. There’s also a little hi-jacked 0 width browser window up if you look carefully.
After some experimenting I noticed that when FireFox starts up there’s a Skype and a yellow highlighter icon in the top right corner of the browser running two plug-ins:
It turns out the EBay Browser Highlighter Plug in is the culprit of the slow startup. I removed both the Skype and Highlighter plug ins and startup performance returned back to normal immediately. Added Skype back in – to isolate – and there was no noticable change. So the highlighter plug in it is.
And off the system it goes. Bye bye…
I don’t remember opting in to this plug in in the first place when I installed Skype (or to the Skype Plug-in for that matter), but there it is. More bloatware installed for you.
I have no idea what this thing does, but I sure don’t want to find out now either. Maybe this will help a few people that have experienced startup slowness issues with FireFox – there seems to be a lot of it going around these days. It’s easy to miss and blame FireFox for this but it’s often important to remember that plug-ins have a lot to do with perceived performance. And after working with a customer today who seemingly had every conceivable plug-in under the sun installed in his browser I suspect there are a lot of folks who have this thing installed and don’t even know it :-}.
Update: It’s not only FireFox this affects. I also noticed that IE was exhibiting the same fucked up behavior – hanging massively on startup. I had to go and uninstall the plug-in completely from the programs list.
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