Bizarre Problem:New Windows open very slowly in Firefox but new Tabs are just fine

Posted on 2007-10-08
Last Modified: 2013-12-07
This is VERY weird. I am running Firefox on an up to date version of Windows XP. I've been using FF for a year or so, so I'm very familiar with a lot of its quirks, but this one takes the cake.

Recently, I noticed that opening a new Window (^N) was VERY slow (> 1 min)! Opening a new Tab (^T) was still fast as ever. So I figured I'd recently installed a plugin that was causing the slow down. So first, I invoked "firefox -profilemanager" and startup up a clean profile. As I suspected, new Windows now opened just as fast as new Tabs.

So next I went into my default profile and started disabling plugins. Imagine my surprise when I disabled the last plugin and restarted and found that new windows were STILL opening slowly. I was truly mystified. One other unusual thing was that the frame of the window would appear instantly, but it would take a long time for whatever page to load. Even stranger was that Windows Task Manager was telling me while waiting that neither the CPU nor the hard drive were working hard at all.

This made me suspect network issue, despite the fact that the exact same URL, when opening in a new Tab was fast, but when opening in a new Window was extremely slow. I don't know what made me try it, but I turned on my corporate VPN and then tried opening a new Window. Voila! The new Window opened just about as fast as a new Tab! This makes NO sense to me at all.

So here is a summary of the bizarre symptoms:
1. New Tabs alway open fast, no matter what the URL or whether the VPN is active or not, and regardless of the profile I am using (default or clean).
2. New Windows in a clean profile always open fast no matter what the URL or whether the VPN is active or not.
3. In my default profile, new Windows open VERY slowly unless the VPN is active.

This is driving me crazy. Help! I already figure I can start from a clean profile (or a reinstalled firefox) and add my plugins one by one, but I'm looking for a less tedious solution to this mystery -- one that truly explains it.
Question by:metanick
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    Can you give us the list of installed Add-ons?
    Also, what security programs do you have installed?
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    Rereading, this could very well be something with the Connection you have setup.  

    In you New Profile, you probably didn't monkey with the connections, but in your old, have you changed anything so that you can access the VPN?  Compare the two settings you have under Tools->Options->Advanced->Network->Connections and see the differences.

    When you tell Firefox to open New Window, it needs to check connection type again and it has to work through what you have told it.  Because your vpn is active, it has the connection already set.  Let me know what you find.

    Author Comment

    mtz1of4, I checked the connection differences between the clean and default profiles. They were different. Clean had the "Connect directly to internet" option selected, so I changed the setting on the default profile. No luck -- no change to the behavior. I took the opportunity to check for any other differences in Tools|Options settings, but didn't see any significant ones.

    I am running CyberArmor Personal Firewall; installed and controlled by my corporate IT department.

    As for addins see here for a pdf with screen captures of the Add-Ons window: .

    One more observation: When I enter ^N to create a new Windows, the Window appears instantly with the status bar message  "Waiting for" (iGoogle is my home page). And the cursor changes to a full hour glass. Given the lack of CPU and HD activity, I am fairly certain FF is simply waiting for an HTTP response. But I have no idea why there is such long wait for a new Window, when there is no such wait for the same page from a new Tab?!?
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    OK, your add-ons. A lot of Google stuff there, including two google toolbars.  Rather then disabling them, you could try uninstalling at the very least googlebar, which seems to have lost any new builds as of 12-2006.  
    Doesn't the google toolbars access their servers every time you start up firefox?  Checking for cookies or perhaps tracking you?


    Accepted Solution

    I think I'm going to just rebuild my profile from scratch, adding and checking add ins as I go.
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    Sounds like a good thing to do.  Good Luck.


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