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lots of disk activity
I run Mac OS 10.8.2 and Firefox 16.0.2
I run into situations where Firefox is writing huge quantities of data to my hard drive. The CPU utilization isn't significant (25% or less), but the Disk Activity is maxed for quite some time (up to a minute), which results in non-responsiveness of all applications.
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Try clearing your Firefox cache:
- Go to Firefox > History > Clear recent history or (if no Firefox button is shown) go to Tools > Clear recent history.
- Under "Time range to clear", select "Everything".
- Now, click the arrow next to Details to toggle the Details list active.
- From the details list, check Cache and Cookies and uncheck everything else.
- Now click the Clear now button.
Further information can be found in the Clear your cache, history and other personal information in Firefox article.
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You can also check for problems with the places.sqlite database file in the Firefox Profile Folder.
Try to create a new profile as a test to check if your current profile is causing the problems.
See "Creating a profile":
If the new profile works then you can transfer some files from the old profile to that new profile, but be careful not to copy corrupted files.