How to Fix: Unresponsive Script Error in Firefox, Chrome, IE

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Infopackets Reader Mike R. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Oftentimes when I visit, there are several ads on the right side of the screen such as 'The Top 10 Highest Paid Soccer Players', or 'The Funniest Billboards Ever', or something along those lines. Whenever these ads are displayed, the web browser locks up and I receive an error message that there is an unresponsive script on the page. I have three options: 'Debug', 'Continue', and 'Stop Script'. Why do I keep getting the 'unresponsive script' error? I use Firefox. "

My response:

This is a very good and frequently asked question.

For the record, an "unresponsive script" error means that the website you're visiting is using a script (a program), and that script has an error. The error can appear on a page you're visiting actively, or on another (inactive) tab inside the browser. Oftentimes, scripts that run inside of a web page such as may in fact be launched from other websites because the script itself is stored on another server / site; or, the scripts may collect data from other websites in conjunction with the site you're visiting. With that said, some scripts may include tracking mechanisms or advertisements. You may receive an "unresponsive script" error for multiple reasons - discussed below.

How to Fix: Unresponsive Script Error in Firefox, Chrome, IE

Unresponsive Script Error: Due to Timeout

In this instance, you may receive an error if there is a bug or timeout error in the script. As I mentioned earlier, a script is a program, and programs can have bugs. Oftentimes scripts will "timeout" waiting for something to happen, and thus you will receive an "unresponsive script" error. This may happen due to a network error - for example, if the script is trying to communicate with a third party website and is unable to establish the connection, this will prevent the script from continuing to process data and thus breaks the script.

Unresponsive Script Error: Due to an Overloaded CPU

Another very frequent reason for an "unresponsive script" error is because your computer is overloaded. Websites like Facebook can suck up a lot of memory; the more memory a web page uses, the more processing power (CPU) required to process the data in memory. If your computer is inundated with processing (I.E.: the CPU is overloaded), it will cause a timeout with certain scripts.

To reduce the likelihood of overloading your computer, disable as many browser plugins as necessary, or make adjustments to your plugins such that they don't run automatically. For example, the Flash web browser plugin can be set to run automatically or set to "ask to activate". In the latter case, any website that uses Flash will prompt the user with an option to turn on Flash. Disabling Flash in this manner will have a huge impact on the responsiveness of websites you're visiting.

One other thing you can do to reduce the memory footprint of your web browser (and to reduce CPU overload) is to reduce the number of sites you have loaded in the web browser. Doing so will reduce the amount of data being used in memory and therefore lessen the CPU load.

Preventing Unresponsive Script Errors: Using Specialized Plugins

One other option you may wish to explore is to download and install a plugin for your web browser that will help you manage scripts on problematic web pages. For example, in Firefox there is a plugin called "NoScript Security Suite" which allows you to pick and choose which websites are allowed to run scripts. A word of caution: if you intend to use this plugin, you need to be aware that by default it may break the functionality of most sites you visit, because most websites use scripts one way or another. Depending on the nature of the scripts, it may prevent the page from loading entirely, or it may break portions of the page.

When I used NoScript Security Suite, it prevented Facebook from loading unless I re-enabled the scripts. With that said, in some cases it may be possible to get around this issue - you could enable the scripts on the site, and then wait for the "unresponsive script" error to appear. Inside the "unresponsive script" error, you should see an URL that contains the script; if the URL is different than the page you're visiting, then the script is in fact running from a third party website.

At this point I would suggest blacklisting the third party website to prevent the "unresponsive script" error from appearing. Unfortunately, NoScript Security Suite does not have a blacklist feature in the traditional sense. In this case, I suggest using another plugin for Firefox called "YesScript" to blacklist certain sites from running scripts. Once that is complete, simply refresh the page and you shouldn't have any issues.

Unresponsive Script Error: Should I "Stop Script" or "Continue"?

After posting this article, Sally T. wrote in with a follow-up question:

" Dear Dennis,

In your article (above), you did not say / advise which of the 3 options to use when the "unresponsive script" error window appears. I have been clicking "stop script", so is that the best thing to do if I simply want to be able to continue using the site I am on? This happens sometimes on Facebook, or even on a news site. I don't visit 'bad' sites, so I don't believe the script that is trying to run is really harmful, but I get upset the the notice pops up and freezes everything until I click one of the options. Thanks for helping us keep safe and knowledgeable. "

My response:

Which option you decide to use (stop script or continue) depends on what you want to do. If you are specifically waiting for something to complete (due to an action that you invoked, for example), then you have the option to wait (continue), but then you may end up waiting indefinitely for the reasons I already mentioned in the article. If you aren't waiting for anything in particular then you can choose to stop the script, but that may break some functionality within the website. In other words, most of the time it's out of your control as to what is causing the "unresponsive script" error, but you can mitigate it to some extent.

I hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If your computer is slow and unresponsive when using the web browser, or if the web browser is constantly giving you "unresponsive script" errors, I can help using my remote desktop support service. Simply contact me briefly detailing your problem and I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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