[SPEED] Improving Google Chrome Performance

Category: Browsers

Google's Chrome is the most popular browser in the world, and it's where I spend most of my work day. But Chrome is known to consume vast amounts of system resources, sometimes slowing its own performance and that of everything else running on the same computer. Here's how to speed things up...

How to Make Google Chrome Run Faster

Google Chrome is now the king of browsers, according to two research firms that track browser usage. It’s an excellent browser that is made even more appealing by its integration with Google’s vast family of free Web services. But as you use more of those features and services, things can start to slow down.

There are many lists of “X things you can do to speed up Chrome.” Some of them advise tweaking hidden flags buried deep in Chrome’s innards. I do not advise changing those default settings; they are set by Google with performance in mind, as well as other considerations. You could very well wind up making Chrome slower or unstable by twiddling those bits.

How to make Google Chrome faster

However, there are other tricks that can make Chrome and the rest of your PC faster and more stable. Here are some tips and tools to reduce the amount of system resources that Chrome uses.

Much of Chrome’s resource-gobbling is due to tabs, those convenient windows within the window of one running copy of Chrome. Each tab consumes resources, and as the number of open tabs exceeds five or so, many systems begin to show signs of strain. You can see the resources that Chrome is using pretty simply, without even leaving Chrome.

Click the three-bar “hamburger” icon in Chrome’s upper-right corner and highlight “More tools.” On the dropdown menu that opens select “Task Manager.” You’ll see something like the image below.

Let's Free Up Some Memory

The Chrome Task Manager shows you all the Chrome things that are using up your resources. Each task shows the amount of RAM memory it is currently using. Note that in this example, my main Chrome browser task is using about 1.4 gigabytes of memory, and the Gmail tab is consuming another 700+ megabytes. It doesn't concern me that my browser is using over 2 gigs of RAM, since I have 12 gigabytes installed. But on a more memory-constrained system, freeing up memory can improve your overall system performance.

Chrome Task Manager

If you see any process, app, or extension you don't need, you can highlight it and click on the “End process” button. Doing so will release the memory used by that task. A better approach, though, would be to simply close any tabs you don't need to have open, and then disable or remove any unwanted extensions. To see what Chrome extensions you have installed, click the “hamburger” then “More tools" then “Extensions".

“Tab managers” that reduce the resources used by tabs are abundant on the Chrome Web Store. That’s because geeks often have dozens of tabs open and they write little extensions that make tabs easier to manage.

Some popular tab managers include OneTab, Session Buddy, Tab Wrangler, and The Great Suspender. Read their Store pages, try some out. Each has its special features, but all of them will free up RAM and other resources, making Chrome and everything else run faster.

I like OneTab’s style. At the click of a button, all of your open tabs are consolidated into one tab. On that OneTab, you’ll see groups of tab labels; each is a “session” that you saved by clicking the OneTab button. The tab labels in each session are fully legible, unlike the partial labels you see on Chrome’s tab bar when many tabs are open. You can restore individual tabs or an entire group. There are many options explained in OneTab’s help file.

The Great Suspender is unique in that it works automatically without your attention. If you haven’t used a tab in a specified period of time, it gets closed to release the resources it is consuming. You can restore closed tabs any time.

Google’s Data Saver is not a tab manager, but it’s worth mentioning as a tool to speed up Chrome. When installed, Data Saver uses Google’s cache servers to compress Web pages for faster delivery to your browser. Those servers also optimize each page for faster rendering, eliminating some of the “processing” delays you may encounter when Chrome is tight on resources.

If you typically use Chrome with more than 3 or 4 tabs open, and your computer seems a bit sluggish, some of these tips may help. Two friends have reported to me that using Data Saver and a tab manager have made Chrome very agile for them.

Please let me know in the comments how these tools work for you. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "[SPEED] Improving Google Chrome Performance"

Posted by:

18 Jul 2016

Hi Bob, what system allows 12Gb of memory? I have win7 Pro 64 bit and I thought that 2 X 4 = 8Gb was the maximum.

EDITOR'S NOTE: It depends on your motherboard, but Windows will support up to 192 GB on a W7 Pro system. I'd be surprised if ANY computer built in the last 5 years didn't allow at least 16GB of RAM.

Posted by:

18 Jul 2016

I've been using One Tab for a couple of years. It's a perfect place to store useful tabs for access at a later date and speed up your browsing experience. I also find it better than using favorites to store web pages you would like to access later, but not save forever - and it saves by date. The ability to group tabs is also very handy.

Posted by:

18 Jul 2016

have opened task manager and can see various chrome tabs, but unsure which ones I can safely close to allow for faster comp speed.
can yo provide details of what tabs are for, and which I can safely close?

Posted by:

18 Jul 2016

I have added the Data Saver. I checked my Chrome Task Manager & I don't believe that I have a lot being used. Yes, I do have some extensions running all the time, when I am on Chrome. However, these extensions are for my Internet safety.

When I read one of your articles about the Chrome Browser, one thing you mentioned was to clear the History frequently, to help Chrome speed up. It works for me. I have found when my Chrome gets sluggish, I simply clean out the History, right then and there.

I do realize that I do not have as many tabs as some people when they are researching or simply surfing the web. I only have 1 to 5 tabs open on average. :O)

Posted by:

Tom Van Dam
18 Jul 2016

This might be a little off topic but I work in IT with a small company and manage several of the computers. I have noticed that some which use Google Chrome have a very large cache on the hard drive that doesn't get cleaned up when Chrome closes. I use Ccleaner to clear out the cache. This can help speed things up also.

Posted by:

18 Jul 2016

great post as a tab addict (i currently have 110 tabs open) i love great suspender and from your post added data saver. ps I have 16Gb of ram as i upgraded from 8GB so i could keep my tabs going without problems.

Posted by:

18 Jul 2016

Hi Bob, thanks for the tip on Data Saver. Did not have Chrome on my main computer so downloaded it and added the extension along with a few others I use. Did some testing and yes pages render much faster. Like it! Will put on my other systems too.

Posted by:

18 Jul 2016

Bob, great article, what suggestions would you have to help speed up Mozilla Firefox?
Thanks, Tom

Posted by:

18 Jul 2016

I have never seen the attraction of tabs. Although I do use them when resurrecting by opening tabs within topic windows. I prefer to have a window for each individual topic.
As a result I greatly dislike it when tabs are opened automatically. I have never liked Chrome for this reason and use Firefox instead.
Can you please do an article on how to speed up and control memory use in Firefox.
Thank You

Posted by:

19 Jul 2016

Bob, thank you so much, grate article, really helped me.

Posted by:

Bob Levy
21 Jul 2016

Bob, Not sure why, but decided to really read this tip. I have followed you for decades(?). A MAJOR issue with ANY software is the capabilities almost always exceed the capability of people understand what the software offers. For decades I asked the following question," If you define the capabilities of WORD, what percentage of its capability do you use?" the vast majority of people respond in the 20-30% but reality is less than 10%. I rank myself in the 5% range. In the old days of physical books at the book store it was an education looking at the THICK books describing different apps. I remember a word book that was 3" thick. Wordstar, which I still miss, was maybe an inch thick. I was more productive with that "simple" app that I will ever be with WORD. Supercalc beets Excel. I digress.
Chrome is just another app and people like you that create short, easy to read and implement techniques are a valuable addition to the vendor world.
Thank you for your decades of service.

Posted by:

22 Jul 2016

Thanks so much for the tip about One Tab, Bob. I absolutely LOVE it,and the wonderful increase in speed it has given me in using Chrome!!

Posted by:

22 Jul 2016

How can chrome be so popular,I keep getting the aw-snap error like every 10 minutes.that is on all os's I use ,and on all web pages I visit.and the solution they have is reboot the browser,that gets old after the first 2 crashes.I have started using firefox because of that problem.

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