Ten Years of Google Chrome (And Why I Cannot Quit)

Category: Browsers

Google launched its Chrome web browser on September 2, 2008. As I noted Chrome’s tenth anniversary, it was hard not to notice how difficult it is to stop using Chrome. After pondering this matter for a few days I conclude that it is unnecessary to switch browsers. Read on to see why; your comments are most welcome whether you agree with me or not...

Happy 10th Birthday, Chrome

You may laugh when I say that Chrome got an enthusiastic reception right off the bat because it proved to be faster than any other browser. It’s true, though; the first benchmark tests by independent entities showed Chrome loaded web pages faster than Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or any other mainstream general-purpose app. But today’s Chrome has a very different reputation.

Chrome 68 (the latest version as of this writing) is a "memory hog" that uses lots of RAM to increase browsing speed. To see for yourself, open Chrome’s built-in Task Manager using the Shift-Esc keyboard shortcut while in Chrome. The ranked list displayed shows what Chrome processes are running, how much RAM each uses, and the percentage of CPU cycles each process uses. The “Browser” task alone takes 20% of my machine’s CPU and over 1.5 GB of RAM.

But this is not sloppy programming. Chrome is designed to optimize browsing speed and protect against crashes by duplicating many processes across multiple tabs. Chrome puts memory to good use, it does not “waste” memory. In fact, idle memory is the real waste! I wouldn't mind if Chrome used even more of the 12 GB available on my computer, if that made it run faster and more reliably.

Google Chrome - Happy 10th Birthday

Think about what Chrome does with all the resources it claims. If a web app running in one tab crashes, all the other tabs currently open (11, in my case right now) rarely follow. In the rare case where Chrome entirely crashes and must be restarted, restoring all open tabs is usually a one-click, painless operation. I am not trading that time savings to gain a few clock cycles or megabytes of RAM I’m not using anyway.

My rosy assessment ignores the resource needs of any other apps that may be running outside of Chrome. That is a surprisingly small omission; right now, LibreOffice Writer is the only app competing with Chrome on my machine. It uses less than 75 MB and it auto-saves my writing every five minutes. I spend the vast majority of my time and effort in Chrome, so its stability and speed are of paramount importance to me. That’s true of many Chrome users.

My Chrome experience is greatly enriched when I am signed into my Google account. That account links all my activities, past as well as present, to what I am doing in Chrome. It makes auto-correct more accurate and search results more pertinent. It also enables Google to target ads at me more effectively, but I am satisfied with that trade-off, too. Online ads make free content possible, so If I'm going to see ads, they may as well be for products and services that are of potential interest to me.

What About Alternative Browsers?

According to Statcounter, Chrome is used on almost 68% of all desktop/laptop computers, worldwide. (Firefox accounts for 11%, Internet Explorer 7%, Safari 5%, Edge 4%, and Opera 2.5%.) Computers running Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux typically don't come with the Chrome browser pre-installed, so I can only assume that overwhelming market lead is because those users made a choice to switch to Chrome.

If I told folks to use Internet Explorer or the Edge browser that comes with Windows 10, I'd be called a Microsoft fanboy. I've tried to like Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi and other alternatives, but none of them offers all the addons I require, or the features and benefits I enjoy with Chrome.

Uncountable articles, blog posts, and forum messages deal with the question, “How do I keep Google out of my business?” When the day is done, I want Google in my business because it helps me do more business more profitably! So I leave most Chrome settings at their defaults, trusting Google to know the best way to help me get work done.

I have not noticed any losses of privacy, or freedom. In 10 years of using Chrome, and almost 15 years of Gmail usage, I can't recall a single instance of unwanted email, postal mail, or any other solicitation that could be reasonably tied to my Google account.

Further, I cannot recall anyone advancing a specific example of how consumers are harmed by Google’s so-called “invasive” practices. All I have seen is, “You have the right to be left alone” without any explanation of the benefits of being left alone. I have the right to be miserable, too, but no one can tell me why I should exercise it.

I remain a willing victim, I suppose you could say. I'm sure some will accuse me of being a shill for Google, but I've been called a shill for many other tech companies whose products I've reviewed or recommended. So far, none of them has sent me a thank-you card, much less a big fat check for my positive comments.

So Happy Birthday, Chrome! The history of web browsers since the early 1990s has proven that competition is a good thing. It motivates each player in the arena to innovate, and we've seen that time and again with Chrome, Firefox, Explorer and the also-rans. Tell me about your favorite browser, and why you like it.

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

 
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Most recent comments on "Ten Years of Google Chrome (And Why I Cannot Quit)"

(See all 47 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Jonathan
05 Sep 2018

I must be older than the rest of you. My first browser was Netscape. And as I recall (yes, I was building web pages back then also), the only text color available was black. And I don't recall that I had the option to change fonts, although the option to specify bold type came in fairly early. Images? Don't be silly. What did you need images for?


Posted by:

Daniel Wiener
05 Sep 2018

My default browser is Chrome, which I use about 90% of the time. But once in awhile Chrome doesn't seem to work properly with a particular web site. I don't know exactly why, and it isn't worth my time to figure out what's wrong, so I just switch to a different browser (either Opera or Pale Moon or Internet Explorer or Vivaldi or Avast, in that approximate order, but never Firefox). At least one of the others will not have the problem, so I'm satisfied.

I also depend upon my Google email account, and my Google Voice account, and Google Calendar, and Google Maps, etc. I just wish Google hadn't lost its way and become evil.


Posted by:

Jay R
05 Sep 2018

I used FF happily for years. A couple of years back, my computer became slower than I. (70 years will do it.) I canned FF and Avast Premium and now things are better. (If my computer wasn't a tenth of my age, I might still be using FF and Avast. I began using Opera when I ditched FF. I has done and is doing fine for me.


Posted by:

Jerry Barnes
05 Sep 2018

I switched from Firefox to Chrome several years ago (can't remember precisely why), but switched back to Firefox last year. Chrome had become such a memory and CPU hog that it slowed my several-year-old desktop to a crawl. The new Firefox Quantum is super fast and easy on resources. I detested some things about Chrome anyway, especially the way it handled bookmarks. Like it not showing creation and last-used dates, and making me right-click to make any edits.


Posted by:

Stuart L.
05 Sep 2018

I DESPISE EVERYTHING ALPHABET.


Posted by:

dennis carpenter
05 Sep 2018

Years ago I used IE but once I started with Chrome which was a long time ago. I never went back to IE. Chrome is faster and I have had no crashes.
I stick with a Chromebook except for a old laptop running Windows7 that I used for a few things that won't load onto a chromebook.


Posted by:

Samantha
05 Sep 2018

I used FF since started or soon after and tried Chrome but went back to FF Hate Quantum - and its got too left of center wont allow my choice of programs etc. So in spite of google spies using Chrome as nagged by FF old version and its unsafe they say. See others close to my age here - I'm 80 next week and find many contemporaries dont do computers but I had MOSDOS days via phone lines 1970's first Desk top was Radio Shack.
Bob you will notice my emails ends in .com although live in Australia. Cause no end of problems invalid etc as that is usually USA - use Gmail instead or Live - and like you -= not had any lousy "things" due to Chrome and Google.
And yes we do have to look close when downloading for hat tick or else we get a PUP. Not the wet nose sort which I would welcome as just got a new G.Shepherd close to 2 and had a bit of a rough time - but coming good now and meat on his bones. Rescue dogs need homes and do repay you with love.
Like Bob on computers ha ha....


Posted by:

swabyw
05 Sep 2018

It all depends on how you use your computer. If you are in IT, quite likely you are writing applications which use memory. If you should start Chrome you might, and I say might, find other applications lagging. If you are an internet surfer, Chrome is great because of the speed but id you are a person doing multiple stuff on the computer you will see some difference in the other applications. Bob... what about multi core like the Quad core. Does each application up to four use a different core? if yes then Chrome would use on core and the other applications use the others. That is until you start another application.


Posted by:

Vadim
05 Sep 2018

In Mac OS X Safari is much more pleasant to my eyes (text and images). I don't see much difference in speed with Chrome.

However, I do use chrome extensively for the searches, because it seems to do it better.

So for me Safari is for the reading and known pages. Chrome is for search and, yes it is slightly more elaborated and convenient compared to Safari.


Posted by:

Vadim
05 Sep 2018

In Mac OS X Safari is much more pleasant to my eyes (text and images). I don't see much difference in speed with Chrome.

However, I do use chrome extensively for the searches, because it seems to do it better.

So for me Safari is for the reading and known pages. Chrome is for search and, yes it is slightly more elaborated and convenient compared to Safari.


Posted by:

Rob Henderson
05 Sep 2018

edge works fine for my requirements.


Posted by:

Lesterhel
05 Sep 2018

I prefer Firefox over Chrome for its bookmark setup, its storage of passwords, and its lack of popup ads.


Posted by:

RonP
06 Sep 2018

I have, and occasionally use, FireFox, Edge, and I.E. on this Windoze 10 machine. But Chrome is my favorite. I started using Gmail while it was still in beta, using POP access to retrieve my Yahoo mail. I switched from FireFox to Chrome as soon as it became available. Yes, it sometimes stresses memory, and I intend to add more RAM to this "cheap" computer that I got at Frys a few months ago, but Chrome gives me almost everything I want. I use Brave to view YouTube videos in order to bypass ads, everything else is Chrome.


Posted by:

Charles
06 Sep 2018

It's funny, I never knew about the shft+esc but when I did that while reading this in Chrome, I saw an unspecified - using about 50% of my CPU. I closed the process and all the ads went away :-)


Posted by:

JP
07 Sep 2018

I'm having problems with the new Chrome, specifically random freezes. Sometimes everything goes back to normal in 10-15 seconds. Sometimes the page goes blank and reloading the page doesn't work. This occurs with as few as 3 tabs open.

Until the new Chrome is fixed, I'll be alternating between Firefox and Opera. Both have their problems, though.


Posted by:

Bella
08 Sep 2018

I HATE Chrome with a purple-dyed passion.

Unfortunately, I didn't discover how much until I broke up with it in May and installed Firefox. I had always been unhappy with Chrome's monopolizing my laptop's resources, even after I doubled the memory. I was blindly content to accept that I would have to adapt to what Chrome thought I should have, cruelly asking my opinion and then ignoring it, randomly and without warning taking things away or changing them in the middle of the night, pretending that it was for my own good. The final straw for me, though, was when they revamped the bookmarks and took away the option to keep the old interface. A small thing, perhaps, in the greater scheme of things, but it was important to me.

So I installed Firefox and found love. Oh. My. FSM! Freedom!!!!! It took me an hour or two over several days -- first tentatively and then joyously, like a kid on xmas morning -- to customize it to look and function the way I wanted and needed it to, and I'm still discovering new things to love. Reader view right there on the address bar! Take a screenshot, no add-on or 3rd party software required! Tree-style tabs, where have you been all my life?

I have no need or desire to link or sync any devices, although Firefox allows for this should I change my mind. But it doesn't constantly demand it like Chrome and Google do. Firefox doesn't stalk me and demand to know where I am and what I'm doing. It doesn't constantly try to get me to buy something I don't want or need.

Firefox makes it so much easier to do what I need to do while accepting me for who I am and letting me be me.


Posted by:

Derrel
09 Sep 2018

Chrome has been my choice for many many years!! I love it only now since the new upgrade, my computer and laptop is ruined!! Cannot use my video cards anymore and that is very upsetting and depressing!!


Posted by:

Bob Crawford
10 Sep 2018

Got it Bob...A Chrome champion since it appeared , and have never been let do2n in any ways near what any of the others you mention have let me down, and totally agree with your words on its "memory hog" habits...


Posted by:

Teakettle
10 Sep 2018

I remember well the days of only IE and Netscape, as well as not having 10 million programs to make 'professional looking websites'. I was glad to see Chrome come along and have been using it ever since for 90 percent of my browsing. Unfortunately I have to have many browsers because not all of them render the same way today and I don’t like surprises when a customer takes a first look at their new website but if I could only have one browser it would be Chrome hands down. Some of the others have a few nice features I would like to see in Chrome sometime but there are not enough of the nice features to cause me to scrap Chrome at the present.


Posted by:

Billie
10 Sep 2018

Can one have both IE & Chrome as brousers on a computer & just select one or the other to use?


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