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Usermode Font Driver Host - Freezes Computer

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Affinity Photo is nearly unusable for me due to a major bug that is somehow related to a task in Task Manager called Usermode Font Driver Host. My system is quite adequately fast for all other tasks, but as soon as I open Affinity Photo, the task mentioned bloats up to 30% to 40% of CPU capacity. It might as well be 100% or 300% because the entire computer is frozen to death. Can't use any other program, and Affinity does not respond in the slightest. It takes several minutes just to open the Task Manager in order to kill Affinity. If I wait quite a long time, the font task seems to settle down a bit. It's clearly related to Affinity though because as soon as I am able to kill Affinity, the font task immediately goes back down to zero CPU (or just goes away), and my computer becomes usable again. In addition, I didn't have this problem at all on my computer until Affinity was installed, so it must be related. I also saw another topic on this forum related to this task, and the author of that post also mentioned Affinity Photo. There were tons of responses, but the topic was eventually closed, so I couldn't post a "me too" reply there.

If this continues and there isn't a patch or settings fix for it, I'll have to ask for a refund because the software is completely unusable. It's sad because otherwise I see the software as being quite formidable and fun to use (though it could use a bunch more features and minor fixes - which I can see the development team is fairly quick to implement or at least add to a coming soon list)

 

For the record, I'm a long time user of Serif software. I own nearly all the previous "Plus" titles, and some years ago I was very active on the forums, Flickr group, and I even beta tested a number of titles. I was excited to see Affinity get so much press... I'll be disappointed if I have to let it go in favor of other more stable apps.

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I have more information.

It is a significant glitch, but with patience it is possible to actually use the software... if a person has 15 minutes to kill while waiting.

The Usermode Font Driver Host glitch lasts for approximately 15 minutes. I'm sure this varies wildly depending on the system. Mine isn't the latest & greatest, so that is probably why it takes 15 minutes. I have a Core i5 with 16 Gigs of RAM - not mega speedy, but it will do anything I push at it including HD video editing and 3D rendering. Loading Affinity Photo is the most demanding task known to mankind and is the only one that will slow it down whatsoever. During those 15 minutes, the entire computer is unusable, grinding to a standstill. System resources are hogged by the font task mentioned as well as Affinity Photo.

After that 15 minutes or so, the garbage dump goes away, and everything becomes usable again, including Affinity Photo. Both the font task and Affinity go back down to negligible CPU % usage. The glitch/system hog doesn't return after the initial load has finished. Everything is full speed and operable.

This is good news as far as being able to use this awesome software. Bad news is that this same 15 minute grinding load time occurs every single time Affinity Photo is launched. I tested to verify, twiddling my thumbs for 15 minutes. So the key is to keep Affinity open for the entire time the computer is on so the next time it is needed, it won't freeze everything for 15 minutes.

loading.jpg

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Oops, sorry for the late reply. I guess I don't have the forum setup to notify responses via email.

Windows 10 - all the latest updates, image attached.

 

system-specs.jpg

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During the length of time when the computer is inoperable, Service Host: Superfetch is another task that kills CPU. A fairly even 30% of CPU is distributed between 2 or 3 of the 3 possible killers which are:

  1. Affinity Photo
  2. Usermode Font Driver Host
  3. Service Host: Superfetch

It is so bad that I can't really get screenshots during the worst, but CPU will be anywhere from 40 to 100% usage, all the while effectively being 100% because I can't do much else on my computer. I "got lucky" and got a slightly more representative screenshot that shows higher percentages than the first I included. But it's impossible to capture when it's in the worst state.

Again, once Affinity finally gets through it's nasty load times, all three tasks above go down to essentially 0% CPU usage, and I can finally bust a move.

My system specs might not seem impressive, but everything is pretty much lightning responsive except for loading Affinity. Other similar software like Corel PaintShop Pro, GIMP, Inkscape, older versions of Serif software, Hugin, and any other imaginable have zero problem loading up. In fact, I can have them all open at the same time and not experience anything like what happens when I open Affinity Photo. I can even have dozens of tabs open in both Firefox and Chrome simultaneously in addition to all that and not notice any slowdown. Only Affinity kills it, and for 15 minutes straight. The only silver lining is that once that 15 minutes is up, everything works fine again.

affinity-fonts.jpg

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I thought of that yesterday as well and looked into it - mainly because I was trying to use a SUPER OLD version of Corel Draw, and the documentation said to keep # of fonts to no more than 400. I actually had over 2000 installed! I know, sounds crazy, but it has absolutely zero effect on other programs other than a slight increase in their startup time when the banner is visible. GIMP seems to be the program that takes the longest for font-related stuff. But the computer is not at all disabled during that loading time, and it is nowhere near as long as the Affinity problem.

Anyway, I went to the trouble of deleting TONs of fonts. I got my number down to less than 400 installed. The vast decrease in # of fonts made very little if any noticeable difference for the Affinity load up problem. The Usermode Font Driver Host task still hangs around for about 15 minutes, drastically slowing down the whole computer during that time.

 

off-topic rampling...

Only reason I was trying to install my ancient version of Corel Draw is because I have been going through old art, and some of my original files are in Corel formats that I can't otherwise open. Corel is still great, and I have the latest version of Paintshop Pro which is generally my program of choice since I don't care to spend stupid amounts of money for an ongoing Photoshop subscription (though I have it at work). If Affinity adds a few more features in the lacking areas it could overtake Paintshop Pro as my default at home program. There are a few things I will use Affinity for now that Serif stopped ignoring tons of users' requests (including mine) for large file support which was previously a problem in PhotoPlus. "Why would you need to open files that large?" = wrong answer since every other program including freeware 32-bit Irfanview can open huge files! Big red buzzer noise fail! Working on huge panoramas exported from Hugin was previously impossible in PhotoPlus. I haven't tried in Affinity yet, but I assume that problem has finally been addressed in the 64 bit age. Affinity's mesh warp has long been the industry leader, far superior to even Photoshop's implementation due to the source and destination feature which is the only way to go. Allows for setting the whole thing up before applying instead of moving single nodes clumsily, with wavy line crap results. Plus, the ability to add nodes anywhere, lining up with exact photo features.... um all other ways suck in comparison! Most other programs just have the ability to increase or decrease the spacing of the grid (like columns and rows) which is absolutely worthless for any purpose under the sun because the points don't line up with features in the photos, and all the other adjacent points have to be moved manually unless you only want one crap grid point to move (never the case). It's always that ou want the "rest of the image" to fill in available space, proportionally stretching, just like Affinity allows with arbitrary node adding anywhere within the mesh box. Again Affinity's mesh warp has all others beat by light-years without any debate. Everyone else is trying to make wheels while Affinity is in Star Trek age and beyond in that particular area. The only way to travel, all the others are anti-features that have zero value in comparison, like holding a single match next to a bonfire, comparing brightness. Being able to set a mesh warp line in an arbitrary position on a huge panorama - along the horizon line which often gets messed up for example... can't be done in any other program that I'm aware of (though maybe Photoshop finally got their crap together for that, I haven't tried it in Creative Cloud recently). I also haven't tried the HDR merge in Affinity yet. Previously in PhotoPlus it left much to be desired, and I currently use Corel Photopaint for that because it works how I like. I'll eventually give Affinity a try to see if it's any better than PhotoPlus used to be. PhotoPlus also was severely lacking in the color adjustment department compared to other like software, so I'll eventually check that out in Affinity too.

Affinity needs to make some serious improvements to some of the batch and script recording stuff for me to use it for that. Not being able to resize by short or long side like both Irfanview and Corel Paintshop Pro have makes it completely useless for resizing for specific aspect ratios and dimensions. Any developer could add that feature in a day tops. Super easy coding. The logic is already there via the ratio lock... just allow setting by the short or long side. Then resizing for batch processing purposes would be night and day improved for stuff like processing for web grids and other situations that require consistent sizing via one side or the other. Basically, just copy some of the stuff in the FREE Irfanview batch processing, and you'll be an industry winner. Not even Photoshop has the best batch processing paradigm. Irfanview beats even Photoshop in some specific areas.

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Sorry, I was lazy and just didn't use the program for a while, annoyed with the 15 minute "boot time." Just yesterday I figured out the source of the problem by following a random hunch. The UI rendering in Libre Office Writer would always pause for a few seconds when I scrolled to a particular point in the font drop-down list. If I changed some text in the document to that "slow font," the program would hang again for a while until the letters were rendered. The larger the point size the font was rendered at, the longer the hang/freeze. I remembered the font-related problem in Affinity and thought maybe there was a connection. I uninstalled the offending font. Sure enough, the office program font list didn't hang anymore, and Affinity Photo also loaded up much faster, without the 15 minute delay and near total system freeze! AWESOME!

I doubt this is an error that very many people will encounter. However, it is something maybe to look into a bit. Apparently a font or two with lots of little speckly details cause MAJOR slowdown and even near freezing of the whole operating system. This issue seems to affect Affinity Photo more severely than other apps. The font in question was over 500K in size. Unfortunately I didn't write down the specific font name before uninstalling it. However, you could probably repeat the problem by installing a few fairly large fonts with tons of details.

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I spent a few hours looking through hordes of fonts because I realized the same, that it would be helpful to find the offending file. Unfortunately I didn't find it initially. However, I gave it a second go this afternoon, and I found the culprit. Just double clicking the font file to preview it in Windows is nasty slow.

It's called RawStreetWall. Here's a link to the font. NO ONE should download this font unless they also want a frozen computer!

I'm glad Affinity's and Serif's name is cleared and it's not a bug that kept me from using the new apps because I really like where they are headed! I apologize if my initial message jumped to that nefarious conclusion.

It's kind of crazy that a relatively modern computer with a decent processor and a bunch of RAM can come to a screeching halt just for one dopey font.

If there is a "fix," it would probably involve something like setting a time-out in the function/procedure that renders font previews for drop-downs or whatnot. If one font takes more than 20 seconds to load or render in a menu, skip that item in the loop and blacklist it from future display, possibly letting the user know via some "cannot display this font" message in the drop-down or something of that ilk. If the user REALLY wants to use the junk font, they can still select it by it's name and wait an hour for it to render in their drawing or document. :D

After experimenting with similar "grungy" or highly detailed fonts, it appears that just about any font with enough detail to warrant a 500K or more file size will likely cause massive lag in some applications. The whole OS froze in my case for approximately 15 minutes each time I loaded Affinity Photo. Some programs handle these nasty fonts better with a few second delay versus the 15 minute total system lock-down.

Again, not Affinity/Serif's fault. It's more the font author's fault. Such fonts are best avoided anyway. Not worth the trouble. If I really want messy, grainy fonts I can coat some paper with clear glue and sprinkle some pepper or glitter in the shape of letters, kindergarten style.

Oddly enough, by some weird coincidence, I'm currently [re]designing my handwriting font for the 4th time. My handwriting keeps changing, and I also learn new and better ways to make fonts. The first time decades ago I used Corel Draw. This time I'm using FontForge. It's a powerful application, but a little confusing to use. I'm pretty sure my font won't cause system hangs though!

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Hi, there.

I noticed that strange interference between Affinity Designer and "Usermode Font Driver Host", too. When loading a PDF with 21 text pages in 224 KB, it takes approx. 2 minutes. In that time, affinity and the driver host have about 12% CPU load. I think it got worse after the latest SPECTRE/MELTDOWN fixes from Microsoft. Not sure.

MS Surface Pro 3, 8 GB RAM, Core i7-4650U, Windows 10 Pro Version 1803, Affinity Designer 1.6.4.104

Best

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