What Does "Warning: Unresponsive Script" Mean?

by Dan Stone

The "Warning: Unresponsive Script" message pops up in a Web browser when a program is taking excessively long to complete a task. What constitutes "excessively long" depends on the processing power and settings on the computer, making it a relative term. A "script" is code designed to process commands in sequence through another program to perform computing tasks like charting data, building a custom Web page, or displaying a complex advertisement.

Computer Programs

Try looking at a computer program as a large city. You might live somewhere in the city and you go to different parts of the city to do different things like shop, work and exercise. Like public transportation, the city has many built-in features that can take you from one point to another. A script is like map that guides you from one place to another, such as from your house to your work.

Hanging Scripts

Sometimes a scripting program receives data that confuses it and it does not know where to go next to proceed in the script. It's similar to walking from your house to work and discovering a street closed for construction. You may not be familiar with another route to work, so you're stuck where you are; this is what happens to a script when it is hung-up. A hung-up script stops doing any computation and becomes unresponsive, which produces the "Warning: Unresponsive Script" message. Sometimes a script will stop and wait for the computer user to enter some sort of information to continue its task, but this is not a hang-up, when it is deliberate.

Infinite Loops

The term "infinite loop" describes when a script or program gets caught in a never-ending circle. An infinite loop would be like getting directions to a coffee shop in a grid street-layout section of the city and being told, "Keep turning right until you get there." Because it's a grid, you will keep walking around the same rectangular block forever. An infinite loop continues to process the same information repeatedly without any change or input. The computer program is designed to recognize this sort of error in a script and will produce the "Warning: Unresponsive Script" message.

The Long Way Home

Sometimes scripts tell a program to finish relatively simple tasks in a very complex way. An example of this would be leaving town, walking around the perimeter and walking past the starting point to cross the street to get to your neighbor's house. The program will recognize that the process is taking a very long time and give the "Warning: Unresponsive Script."

Unresponsive Script Causes

Causes for unresponsive scripts include programming errors, interference from other programs and running scripts designed for a new version of the program, but run with an older version of the program. Prevent the warning message by keeping your Web browser and add-ons updated.

About the Author

Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.

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