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Why aren't Flash cookies cleared the first time I exit Firefox?

Posted

I am running XP, Firefox 16.0.1 and Flash Player 11.4.402.287 and have Firefox configured to "Clear history when Firefox closes", with "Cookies" (amongst other options) checked in the "Settings for Clearing History". I also have Flash Player configured to "Block all sites from storing information on this computer."

As I understand things, starting with Firefox 4 and Flash Player 10.3, having Firefox configured this way should cause Flash cookies to be deleted upon exiting Firefox. I also understand that even though I have Flash configured as I do, a list of sites that attempt to plant a Flash cookie will still be recorded in the main settings.sol cookie.

I have noticed, though, that this list of empty Flash cookies is not deleted the first time I exit Firefox; rather, the list is deleted after launching and then exiting Firefox again.

Here's a step-by-step example:

1) Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> confirm that the list is empty

2) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manage

3) Launch Firefox -> go to www.hulu.com and click on a video to start it playing

4) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> confirm that the list shows www.hulu.com, 0 bytes, Block

5) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manager

6) Exit Firefox

7) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> NOTE THAT THE LIST STILL SHOWS www.hulu.com, 0 bytes, Block

8) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manager

9) Relaunch Firefox

10) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> NOTE THAT THE LIST STILL SHOWS www.hulu.com, 0 bytes, Block

11) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manager

12) Exit Firefox

13) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> NOTE THAT THE LIST IS NOW EMPTY

So again my question is - why isn't this list emptied the first time around?

I am running XP, Firefox 16.0.1 and Flash Player 11.4.402.287 and have Firefox configured to "Clear history when Firefox closes", with "Cookies" (amongst other options) checked in the "Settings for Clearing History". I also have Flash Player configured to "Block all sites from storing information on this computer." As I understand things, starting with Firefox 4 and Flash Player 10.3, having Firefox configured this way should cause Flash cookies to be deleted upon exiting Firefox. I also understand that even though I have Flash configured as I do, a list of sites that attempt to plant a Flash cookie will still be recorded in the main settings.sol cookie. I have noticed, though, that this list of empty Flash cookies is not deleted the first time I exit Firefox; rather, the list is deleted after launching and then exiting Firefox again. Here's a step-by-step example: 1) Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> confirm that the list is empty 2) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manage 3) Launch Firefox -> go to www.hulu.com and click on a video to start it playing 4) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> confirm that the list shows www.hulu.com, 0 bytes, Block 5) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manager 6) Exit Firefox 7) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> NOTE THAT THE LIST STILL SHOWS www.hulu.com, 0 bytes, Block 8) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manager 9) Relaunch Firefox 10) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> NOTE THAT THE LIST STILL SHOWS www.hulu.com, 0 bytes, Block 11) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manager 12) Exit Firefox 13) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> NOTE THAT THE LIST IS NOW EMPTY So again my question is - why isn't this list emptied the first time around?

Modified by djr5150

Chosen solution

Safe Mode doesn't deactivate plugins, I don't think, so you can set those aside for now.

I suggest disabling ALL nonessential extensions. We all tend to accumulate ones which aren't really necessary. You can do that here:

orange Firefox button or classic Tools menu > Add-ons > Extensions category

If the core extensions you really like cause the same issue, then I think you might just have to live with it. Please note that Flash is correctly keeping track of your block setting, so I don't think anything actually is being stored.

Read this answer in context 0

Additional System Details

Installed Plug-ins

  • Shockwave Flash 11.4 r402
  • NPRuntime Script Plug-in Library for Java(TM) Deploy
  • RealJukebox Netscape Plugin
  • RealPlayer(tm) LiveConnect-Enabled Plug-In
  • RealPlayer Download Plugin
  • Adobe Shockwave for Director Netscape plug-in, version 11.6.7.637
  • Adobe Shockwave for Director Netscape plug-in, version 11.6.6.636
  • Adobe PDF Plug-In For Firefox and Netscape 10.1.4
  • BlackBerry WebSL Browser Plug-In
  • The QuickTime Plugin allows you to view a wide variety of multimedia content in Web pages. For more information, visit the QuickTime Web site.
  • 5.1.10411.0
  • Npdsplay dll

Application

  • User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:16.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/16.0

More Information

jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
8633 solutions 70607 answers

Helpful Reply

I wonder whether there is a timing problem with Firefox trying to clear the cookies before the Flash plugin is shut down. If you forcibly kill the Flash process before exiting Firefox the first time, does that make any difference?

TEST: In the Windows Task Manager, Processes tab, look for one or more Flash processes and the plugin-container.exe process, and End those before exiting Firefox. Any difference in whether the entries are successfully cleared?

Not a solution or even a practical workaround, but could provide some insight.

I wonder whether there is a timing problem with Firefox trying to clear the cookies before the Flash plugin is shut down. If you forcibly kill the Flash process before exiting Firefox the first time, does that make any difference? TEST: In the Windows Task Manager, Processes tab, look for one or more Flash processes and the plugin-container.exe process, and End those before exiting Firefox. Any difference in whether the entries are successfully cleared? Not a solution or even a practical workaround, but could provide some insight.

Question owner

Thank you for your reply.

I suspected a timing problem (I read about the issue coincidentally when looking at the Better Privacy add-on - see my comments below) but did not know how to test it. I followed your suggestion (exact steps listed below) twice and got the same result - the Flash cookies were cleared the first time around.

1) Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> confirm that the list is empty

2) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manager

3) Launch Firefox -> go to www.hulu.com and click on a video to start it playing

4) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> confirm that the list shows www.hulu.com, 0 bytes, Block

5) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manager

6) Go to www.yahoo.com (just to get away from www.hulu.com, which has the Flash content)

7) Windows Task Manager -> kill plugin-container.exe process

8) Exit Firefox

9) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> IS EMPTY

The timing problem is mentioned on the Better Privacy add-on page https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/betterprivacy/ and I believe is one of the reasons Better Privacy offers an option for deleting LSOs on FIrefox startup (in addition to on exit).

As you mentioned, the kill plugin-container.exe method is not practical. And the Better Privacy clear on startup functionality is good, but still does not address the fact that the history is maintained on the computer until Firefox is launched again...

Out of curiosity, are you able to replicate my original condition?

Thank you for your reply. I suspected a timing problem (I read about the issue coincidentally when looking at the Better Privacy add-on - see my comments below) but did not know how to test it. I followed your suggestion (exact steps listed below) twice and got the same result - the Flash cookies were cleared the first time around. 1) Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> confirm that the list is empty 2) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manager 3) Launch Firefox -> go to www.hulu.com and click on a video to start it playing 4) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> confirm that the list shows www.hulu.com, 0 bytes, Block 5) Exit the Flash Player Settings Manager 6) Go to www.yahoo.com (just to get away from www.hulu.com, which has the Flash content) 7) Windows Task Manager -> kill plugin-container.exe process 8) Exit Firefox 9) Relaunch Control Panel -> Flash Player -> Storage tab -> Local Storage Settings by Site... button -> IS EMPTY The timing problem is mentioned on the Better Privacy add-on page https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/betterprivacy/ and I believe is one of the reasons Better Privacy offers an option for deleting LSOs on FIrefox startup (in addition to on exit). As you mentioned, the kill plugin-container.exe method is not practical. And the Better Privacy clear on startup functionality is good, but still does not address the fact that the history is maintained on the computer until Firefox is launched again... Out of curiosity, are you able to replicate my original condition?
jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
8633 solutions 70607 answers

I don't clear anything at shutdown so I'll have to create a new profile to test. After hours.

I don't clear anything at shutdown so I'll have to create a new profile to test. After hours.

Question owner

Great, thank you! I look forward to your results.

Assuming that you have the same outcome, what, if anything, is Mozilla going to do to address this privacy issue? Should a bug report be filed?

Thanks again.

Great, thank you! I look forward to your results. Assuming that you have the same outcome, what, if anything, is Mozilla going to do to address this privacy issue? Should a bug report be filed? Thanks again.
jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
8633 solutions 70607 answers

Hulu was reluctant to play with all Flash local storage blocked (maybe once out of 10 tries).

When I conduct the experiment with YouTube, the entry was cleared the last few tries.

In one case where it was not cleared (not sure which site it was), there appeared to be an additional persistent Adobe Flash process after Firefox closed (distinct from the FlashPlayerPlugin processes). I'm not sure what triggered that or what eventually shut it down.

Have you tested in a clean profile?

Hulu was reluctant to play with all Flash local storage blocked (maybe once out of 10 tries). When I conduct the experiment with YouTube, the entry was cleared the last few tries. In one case where it was not cleared (not sure which site it was), there appeared to be an additional persistent Adobe Flash process after Firefox closed (distinct from the FlashPlayerPlugin processes). I'm not sure what triggered that or what eventually shut it down. Have you tested in a clean profile?

Question owner

I'm not sure exactly how to go about building a "clean profile" - can you explain or point me to directions?

I'm not sure exactly how to go about building a "clean profile" - can you explain or point me to directions?
jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
8633 solutions 70607 answers

First close Firefox, then from the Windows Start menu > Run

firefox.exe /ProfileManager

You can create new profiles and also use this dialog to switch between profiles. Note that it only works when all Firefox windows are closed; if Firefox is running, it just opens a new window.

First close Firefox, then from the Windows Start menu > Run firefox.exe /ProfileManager You can create new profiles and also use this dialog to switch between profiles. Note that it only works when all Firefox windows are closed; if Firefox is running, it just opens a new window.

Question owner

I will give it a go later and report back - thank you.

I will give it a go later and report back - thank you.
cor-el
  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
17412 solutions 157274 answers
See also: *http://kb.mozillazine.org/Standard_diagnostic_-_Firefox#Profile_issues *https://developer.mozilla.org/en/Command_Line_Options

Helpful Reply

Ok, so I created a new profile and followed the steps I spelled out in my first post several times - each time the Hulu flash cookie was cleared the first time I closed Firefox.

So what would you recommend I do next to get to the bottom of the behavior in my current profile? Should I go about disabling my extensions and plugins one by one and repeating the test each time?

Thanks again so much for your time and help.

PS: I never have a problem with Hulu playing with my flash local storage set to zero - interesting that you do...

Ok, so I created a new profile and followed the steps I spelled out in my first post several times - each time the Hulu flash cookie was cleared the first time I closed Firefox. So what would you recommend I do next to get to the bottom of the behavior in my current profile? Should I go about disabling my extensions and plugins one by one and repeating the test each time? Thanks again so much for your time and help. PS: I never have a problem with Hulu playing with my flash local storage set to zero - interesting that you do...
jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
8633 solutions 70607 answers

I'm not 100% certain it's an extension, but you could disable them all in one go by starting Firefox in "Safe Mode". First, use the profile manager to start your normal profile, then use

Help > Restart with Add-ons Disabled

This disables extensions and overrides some settings. Does that make any difference?

I'm not 100% certain it's an extension, but you could disable them all in one go by starting Firefox in "Safe Mode". First, use the profile manager to start your normal profile, then use Help > Restart with Add-ons Disabled This disables extensions and overrides some settings. Does that make any difference?

Question owner

Starting in safe mode caused the flash cookies to be deleted on the first exit.

What do you recommend now please?

Incidentally, I have 2 virtually identical laptops, running the same versions of Firefox and virtually all of the same plugins and extensions, and they both behave exactly the same way in terms of this flash cookie issue.

Starting in safe mode caused the flash cookies to be deleted on the first exit. What do you recommend now please? Incidentally, I have 2 virtually identical laptops, running the same versions of Firefox and virtually all of the same plugins and extensions, and they both behave exactly the same way in terms of this flash cookie issue.
jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
8633 solutions 70607 answers

Chosen Solution

Safe Mode doesn't deactivate plugins, I don't think, so you can set those aside for now.

I suggest disabling ALL nonessential extensions. We all tend to accumulate ones which aren't really necessary. You can do that here:

orange Firefox button or classic Tools menu > Add-ons > Extensions category

If the core extensions you really like cause the same issue, then I think you might just have to live with it. Please note that Flash is correctly keeping track of your block setting, so I don't think anything actually is being stored.

Safe Mode doesn't deactivate plugins, I don't think, so you can set those aside for now. I suggest disabling ALL nonessential extensions. We all tend to accumulate ones which aren't really necessary. You can do that here: orange Firefox button ''or'' classic Tools menu > Add-ons > Extensions category If the core extensions you really like cause the same issue, then I think you might just have to live with it. Please note that Flash is correctly keeping track of your block setting, so I don't think anything actually is being stored.

Question owner

Problem solved!! The culprit is the RealPlayer Browser Record Plugin 15.0.6 (which is an Extension, but Plugin is part of the name). When I disabled this Extension, Firefox clears Flash cookies the first time around.

By the way, for a while I did seem to be having a problem with Flash correctly keeping track of my settings. I don't want to pollute this thread but if you don't mind, perhaps I can send you a PM re: some Flash questions?

Thank you so very much for your help!!!

Problem solved!! The culprit is the RealPlayer Browser Record Plugin 15.0.6 (which is an Extension, but Plugin is part of the name). When I disabled this Extension, Firefox clears Flash cookies the first time around. By the way, for a while I did seem to be having a problem with Flash correctly keeping track of my settings. I don't want to pollute this thread but if you don't mind, perhaps I can send you a PM re: some Flash questions? Thank you so very much for your help!!!
jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
8633 solutions 70607 answers

Good to hear you found the cause.

Is that the latest updated version of the "Browser Record" add-on? There were some updates in the past few months to resolve other Flash compatibility issues, so I wonder whether they have resolved this one as well.

Regarding Flash issues more generally, I must admit that I do not pay close attention to the details. Posting a new question here or on the MozillaZine forums might help turn up the answers you're looking for.

Good to hear you found the cause. Is that the latest updated version of the "Browser Record" add-on? There were some updates in the past few months to resolve other Flash compatibility issues, so I wonder whether they have resolved this one as well. Regarding Flash issues more generally, I must admit that I do not pay close attention to the details. Posting a new question here or on the MozillaZine forums might help turn up the answers you're looking for.

Question owner

I was glad to find the cause as well - thank you so much for your help!

Yes, I am running the latest version of the "Browser Record" add-on. I will try to remember to run my experiment again and see if the issue is resolved when there is an update for flash and/or this add-on.

The good news is that I very, very rarely use this add-on, so it's not a big deal to keep it disabled by default and only enable it if/when I am going to use it.

Thanks so much again.

I was glad to find the cause as well - thank you so much for your help! Yes, I am running the latest version of the "Browser Record" add-on. I will try to remember to run my experiment again and see if the issue is resolved when there is an update for flash and/or this add-on. The good news is that I very, very rarely use this add-on, so it's not a big deal to keep it disabled by default and only enable it if/when I am going to use it. Thanks so much again.