If your Mac OS X web browsers constantly stall and a Cisco VPN client is installed

By Grant Jacobs 11/01/2015

– try uninstalling the Cisco VPN client.

If you find that your Mac OS X web browsers are constantly ‘spinning the beachball’ at each scroll or click on a textbox or attempt to type text results in a long pause before anything happens* –

Open the Console application – it’s under Utilities in the Applications folder

Open the system log – you’ll probably find that’s the default thing you are shown when opening the Console

Scroll back looking at the log file

Check to see if there is evidence that system is trying to reconnection to a secure host repeatedly via a Cisco VPN client. For example, you might see something like:

executing /opt/cisco/anyconnect/bin/SetUIDTool

or evidence that a program called acwebsecagent is running,

or an error of the form



Function: TestNetEnv File: ../../vpn/Agent/NetEnvironment.cpp Line: 364 No DNS connectivity. Retesting connectivity to the secure gateway in 5 seconds.

If you see any of there, check if you have a Cisco VPN client program installed. Usually it’s called AnyConnect. The VPN client’s installation folder is within the /Applications folder; there you’ll find an uninstall application. Run it.

With any luck you should now be able to go back to the Console and see that the repeated stream of attempts to connect to a secure host have stopped and your web browsers are now (more-or-less) responding properly.

It may be best to quit everything and restart computer.

If you need the Cisco VPN program, try re-installing with the web security tool off. (This is what is causing the problem. I haven’t tested reinstalling it; for my use uninstalling it is fine.)

Other more general advice when faced with declines in performance is to clean up the hard disk using Apple’s Disk Utility (also under Applications > Utilities) by “repairing” the disk. Ensuring you have a decent amount of free disk space will help, too; the operating system needs some space for temporary files – without this extra space it cannot work efficiently.


On rare occasions I post computer ‘advice’, in this case it’s one reason I’ve been slow to get back to writing over the summer break. I’m putting it up in the (unlikely) event it help someone else who gets stuck with this particular issue as this seems to be a issue that people are still running into.

* This might sound as if it’s merely an irritation… Let me assure readers this is a maddeningly frustrating thing to happen—it renders your use of network applications to something even slower and even more ‘try-ahead’ than my recollections of late 1980’s networked applications. Basically it makes using them impractical. You can try scroll a page and nothing will happen for several whole seconds. (Or longer…) Or find yourself typing several sentences-worth of text before the sodded browser finally presents it.

(‘Try-ahead’ is what we used to call type-ahead where the presentation of the typed characters was so slow that you were basically forced to just try anyway and see what happened! X-terminals over slow networks in particular were prone to this as the way of verifying to the user that their characters had safely made the trip to the server was to have them served back to your local screen (terminal) via the full round-trip to the server and back! The characters were echoed via the remote server, rather than the local device. With today’s fibre optic-based networks this might not be much of an issue, but back then even quite local networks could get congested and have substantial delays in getting the characters you’d typed back to your screen…) Of course, if you mistyped you got to belatedly put right your error…

Other computer-related stories on Code for life:

Sinclair ZX envy

WWW database servers on Mac OS X 10.6.x, part I: Installing MySQL

Backups, part I

Mac OS X dreams

Consumer brain-computer interface

The iPad: a cat toy?