Is Google Chrome Slowing You Down?

Category: Browsers

So you're browsing the Web, reading news or email, checking the weather, doing a little online shopping. You close your Chrome browser to do some word processing, but things seem a bit sluggish. You open Task Manager and hey... a bunch of Chrome tasks are still running. What's up with that? Read on to see why that happens and what to do about it...

Exit Chrome Completely To Regain System Resources

According to research firm NetMarketShare, Google’s Chrome browser is used by more than 54% of users worldwide. Chrome is packed with features that make life online easier and more productive. But some of those features can slow you down when you're using other apps on your computer.

Chrome makes use of browser extensions to provide users with handy things like continually updated weather, stock, or sports reports; notifications of Gmail messages waiting; and other information retrieved by Chrome via extensions. Many of these things continue to run in the background, even when the Chrome browser windows is closed. And that’s where the drain of system resources may occur.

To continually check for new emails or update the weather, for instance, an extension must continually run in the background even when Chrome is closed. That consumes battery power (if you’re on a laptop not plugged into an AC outlet), RAM memory, CPU clock cycles, graphics display adapter resources, and so on, even when you’re not checking the weather. If you have many such extensions running in Chrome, the cumulative drain of system resources can become quite a burden.

Chrome background tasks

You can use Windows Task Manager to see how much system resources Chrome extensions and apps are consuming when Chrome is closed. First, close Chrome. Then start Task Manager by typing “Task Manager” in the Start menu’s search box. Click on “View running processes with Task Manager.”

Next, click on the “Image name” column header in Task Manager to sort processes by name. Look for “chrome.exe” items; those are Chrome-related processes that are still running even though Chrome is closed. Add up the numbers in the Memory column and see where you stand. (On my system, the amount of RAM memory consumed by Chrome varies between 500 megabytes and 4.5 gigabytes, even after closing the Chrome window.)

Tweak Chrome to Minimize the Impact of Background Tasks

You may not have any “chrome.exe” tasks running after you close Chrome. That means you're not using any extensions or apps that keep running after Chrome closes, and you're getting all available system resources back when closing Chrome.

Depending on your system resources and the amount of RAM you have installed, that may or may not be ideal. My primary computer has 12 GB of memory installed, and a super-fast solid state (SSD) hard drive. So I'm not concerned that Chrome is holding on to several gigs of memory. I also know that I've got several Chrome extensions such as Hangouts and PushBullet, which I *do* want running at all times.

But on my laptop, it's a different story. That older machine has a slow processor, a standard hard drive, and only 4GB of RAM. I want to conserve both memory and battery life, so keeping Chrome alive in the background is not desirable here.

You can manually close or “end” any running process in Task Manager. But that gets a bit tedious if you have a lot of chrome.exe processes running or if you open and close Chrome frequently. You have to start Task Manager, find the chrome.exe items you want to close, and click “end process” one process at a time. Fortunately, there is an easier way.

Chrome icon in taskbar
Close Chrome and look at your system tray, the area of the task bar on the far right. If you see the Chrome icon in the system tray after Chrome is closed (it may take up to a minute for Chrome to close as much as it’s going to), then you know there are Chrome-related processes still running in background.

Manage Chrome background tasks
Click on the Chrome icon, then click on “Exit” at the bottom of the popup to close all running tasks and really exit Chrome completely.

That’s not too much effort. But you do have to remember to do it each time you close Chrome and need all of your system resources back. Fortunately, you can make this happen automatically, every time you close Chrome. Instead of clicking "Exit" on that popup, look for the option that says "Let Google Chrome run in the background." Notice the little check mark next to it? Click that option, and you turn that feature off. Now every time you close Chrome, all background tasks will also be terminated.

You can also accomplish the same thing by following the steps below. (It's a few more clicks, but this method also show you how to undo the setting, and allow background apps to run.)

  • Open Settings in Google Chrome.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the screen and select “Show advanced settings.”
  • Under “System,” uncheck the box next to “Continue running background apps when Chrome is closed.”

Should You Turn Off Background Tasks?

You now have three ways to manage Chrome background processes. You can close individual processes in Task Manager (tedious), use the Chrome icon in the system tray (easy and quick), or you can change Chrome’s settings to automate the closing of background processes every time you close Chrome.

As I mentioned earlier, doing so is not optimal for all computers. If you have a desktop with plenty of RAM memory installed, you may not pay any performance penalty by allowing Chrome background tasks to run all the time. You may even find that it's quicker to restart Chrome when the background tasks are allowed.

On a laptop or desktop with limited memory, turning off Chrome background tasks could improve overall performance. But you might also be turning off apps that you do want running all the time. If you're not sure which option is best, try it both ways for a while and see which one provides the best mix of functionality and performance.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Is Google Chrome Slowing You Down?"

Posted by:

04 Oct 2016

Try Brave. Developed by Brendan Eich, founder of Mozilla.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2016

Your tip about Chrome apps running in the background after Closing Chrome is brilliant, you're a saint !

Posted by:

04 Oct 2016

Great article, Bob.
I always keep background tasks to a minimum at all times so that I always have the resources to do what I wish at any time.
I also keep Task Manager minimized and I'm always aware of what's running on my rig.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2016

Thanks Bob. I knew about the background processes but didn't realize I could easily turn them off.

I use Firefox more often than Chrome for a number reasons. It has more extensions available that I actually use. And some work better in Firefox. For example, Roboform seems to work better in Firefox.

Also in some cases Firefox runs faster (yes, believe it or not)! For example if I do an Internet speed test in IE, Chrome, and Firefox, Firefox usually gives me the fastest speed.

I also want to support Mozilla for all the good work they have done.

On the other hand, Chrome starts a whole lot faster. So when I just need to open something quickly, I use Chrome.

And every once in a while I get to a website that seems to only work well in one browser or another.

Posted by:

Don Gaus
04 Oct 2016

I tried downloading Brave, and I got a virus detected in it called Heim.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2016

Google Chrome is for me no longer an issue. It entirely crashed on me, leaving a white screen and taking all my bookmarks etc. with it. Never again. Using Mozilla but in the market for a second browser.

Posted by:

Denis F
04 Oct 2016

Chrome doesn't appear in my system tray even when it is running. I have been to the customise page but it doesn't show up there either so I can't even turn it on. Any ideas?

Posted by:

Mike S.
04 Oct 2016

Not computer or Chrome related, but I discovered recently that if a smart phone has The Weather Channel app, you must close it each time you are finished using it,or it will continue refreshing, using up and exceeding your data plan.
Learned this to the tune of a $600+ cell phone bill for my elderly sister's phone.
Carrier shall be nameless, but they did forgive about $135.

Posted by:

05 Oct 2016

I use IE11 and firefox and have no complaints. tried chrome a couple of times and didn't like it. I really like the way firefox keeps a detailed history of your surfing session making it easy to find and go back to a particular site. (ymmv)

Posted by:

05 Oct 2016

Good Job! I will look into wife's desk top after she down loaded Avast and Google was recommended.
Thanks, Phil

Posted by:

05 Oct 2016

Google is trying to dominate our lives so I avoid all things Google! No GMail for me, thank you! For browsing and email I am using Mozilla's "SeaMonkey" Suite and the "Opera" browser with excellent results. Extra "bells and whistles" are not good for our computers' health and our diminishing PRIVACY

I also recommend the DuckDuckGo search engine as an alternative to Google so as to avoid being tracked and recorded in Google's massive database. Bob, it would be good if you gave some attention to these alternative applications instead of super-dominate Facebook and Google!

Posted by:

06 Oct 2016

When I closed Chrome, yes I still had the icon, but not the selections you listed in its menu. I did find in the advanced settings of chrome a place with a check box to indicate if you want apps/exts to run in the background. Mine was not checked so when it closes, I think its closes everything. I do not know if its because I have a 64 bit version, or a win 10 version, or what, but it was not automatically check to on. I hope this helps if somebody else is looking for the same info, and not finding it by clicking on the taskbar icon.

Posted by:

Mark Matis
17 Oct 2016

So does Chromium have the same problems as Chrome?

Posted by:

Ken T
18 Oct 2016

easier way to invoke "Task Manager" = rite click on your task bar.
i use & will ALWAYS continue to use Firefox/Mozilla because they really are non-profit/for-the-user... NOT part of Big Corp. Sort of like using credit unions rather than banksters. By the people, for the people.

PS: thx for reco on DuckDuckGo. seen it listed on search engine choices but didn't know they were "good guys" rather than yet another invasive Big Corp sealth collector.

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