One of the most irritating issues I have while chatting with Windows Live Messenger (or MSN as some know it as) is that 15 to 30 minutes into a chat session, it gradually slows down to the point where my typing appears several seconds later. Eventually it becomes unbearably slow or stops responding altogether, where I need to "End Task" it.
After having this issue happen countless times, I noticed that it nearly always shows a particular animated Ad at the time it slows way down, in my case an Irish ad promoting the MSN website. Another symptom I noticed is that within minutes of opening a chat session, the CPU usage by MSN climbed until it maxed out a core, so not only was it getting slower to respond, it was also slowing down my PC.
After having a strong feeling it was the ads, I decided to fire up Wireshark to see if I could work out where it's getting its ads from, but quickly noticed it was making HTTP connections, so I fired up Fiddler and straight away found two suspect ad server DNS's. I then used the Windows hosts file to block the two, fired up MSN and voila - a page loading error in the ad pane.
After about an hour long chat with a friend after this, MSN didn't show any sign of slowdown and the CPU usage remained 0%, the first time I've seen this in a long time.
For anyone with this (or a similar) issue interested in trying this method, here's how:
- Go into Start -> All Programs -> Accessories
- Right-click on Notepad and click "Run as administrator"
- Click 'Yes' to the UAC (if one appears)
- Go into File menu -> Open
- In the file name field, type: %windir%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
- Click 'Open'
- Add these two lines at the end:127.0.0.1 rad.msn.com
- Go into File menu -> Save
- Close out of MSN completely and launch it again.
If these steps work, when you open a chat window, it should show an error-like page in the ad field.
Basically what these lines do is cause Windows to resolve these two DNS entries with an invalid IP address, causing the connection to fail. For example, if you add another line '0.0.0.0 www.facebook.com' at the end, it would block the Facebook website.
I would be curious to hear if this trick works for anyone else with a sluggish / CPU-hogging MSN.