I had to switch from Firefox to Chrome in Windows 10, and I’m not happy about it. Conexant’s horrible audio software and its CPU-grabbing Flow.exe is the problem.

I made the switch from Google Chrome to Firefox at least a year ago, and I thought the Mozilla-coded browser’s performance improvements were enough to allow me to eliminate one spy-ish element from my computing life.

Never mind that I use a lot of Google services, especially in my work life. That’s another issue for another day. I just wanted a privacy-focused browser that doesn’t necessarily phone home everything I do to Mountain View.

But on my HP Envy laptop running Windows 10, I’ve noticed the fan running a lot more, and a look at the Task Manager shows Firefox grabbing a lot of CPU, as does a process that only seems to run (and hog 20 percent of CPU) along with it: flow.exe.

I’ve since learned that flow.exe has something to do with the Conexant sound card in my laptop, and it is running all the time when Firefox is running, supposedly because the Conexant software can’t figure out how to configure itself when presented with whatever it is that Firefox is doing. There was a recent Conexant driver update for this laptop, and I think that’s when the problem began.

I could try to figure this out, try to figure out how to revert the Conexant driver, or something like that, or I could just run Chrome, which sips CPU by comparison, and wait for the situation to somehow resolve itself with fixes by Conexant, HP, Microsoft or Mozilla.

In terms of a fix, I won’t hold my breath. I will keep checking Firefox, which I’m still using on my Fedora laptop. That older HP computer doesn’t have Chrome at all.

That said, here is the best post I’ve seen about how to deal with flow.exe.

My Windows 7 PC at the office doesn’t seem to be affected by this Firefox issue at all, but it’s things like this on the Windows laptop that send me running to Chrome.

Update: I’m going to try this solution.

What I did was go to the Services Control Panel (go to Control Panel and then search for Services) and changed the status of CxMonSvc and CxUtilSvc from automatic to manual. Then I rebooted.

What happened: This worked. Sounds works fine, but no flow.exe and CPU usage is normal.

Update on April 14, 2019: The problem is now worse than ever. Nothing seems to stop Flow.exe when Firefox is running. I’m considering removing the Conexant “smart” audio driver altogether because it’s not smart enough not to bring the laptop to its knees even when I’m not playing any sound whatsoever.

Update later on April 14, 2019: I downloaded the latest Conexant High Definition Audio Driver, Version Rev.D, released by HP on March 22, 2019. It is a 220 MB file. That is very, very large for an audio driver. Most FULL Linux distributions with a full complement of software are under 1 GB. And they include the audio driver.

This means I am NOW using Windows’ Add-Remove Programs to remove the Conexant ISST audio driver. We’ll see what happens.

Uninstalling the driver: When I uninstalled the driver, I rebooted and had no sound.

Installing an older version of the Conexant audio driver: I’m trying an older version of the driver offered by HP: Conexant High-Definition (HD) Audio Driver Rev.C.

Did that work? I am not working this week, so I am not torture-testing web browser. But in limited use, so far I’m not detecting Flow.exe issues with the “old” Conexant driver while running Firefox on Windows 10.

Update on May 6, 2019: I can’t believe that I’m still dealing with this issue five months later. My current “solution,” which I’ve seen a few other successfully try is to rename Flow.exe as _Flow.exe so the Conexant software can’t find it at all.

This is where Flow.exe lives in Windows 10: C:\Program Files\CONEXANT\Flow

My HP update software is nagging me to install a new version of the Conexant sound driver, and when I reboot I get this popup:

Windows and HP really want me to reinstall the Conexant “SmartAudio” driver. I renamed C:\Program Files\CONEXANT\Flow\Flow.exe as C:\Program Files\CONEXANT\Flow\_Flow.exe in order to keep the utility from stressing the CPU while running the Firefox browser in Windows 10.

It’s sad that this has gone on for so many months without anybody fixing it. I guess it says something about the number of Windows 10 users running Firefox, and that thing is that it’s a small number.


2 responses to “I had to switch from Firefox to Chrome in Windows 10, and I’m not happy about it. Conexant’s horrible audio software and its CPU-grabbing Flow.exe is the problem.”

  1. Update on April 14, 2019: All of my killing-Flow fixes have stopped working. Now I use the Task Manager to kill out Flow, and it comes back a few minutes later.

    Message to Microsoft (who should care), HP (who might care) and Firefox (who probably should care): This is enough to make me drop Firefox in Windows, or Windows altogether.

    Message to Conexant: How dare you.


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