I love using Google Chrome to surf the web, and one of the main reasons has always been that it is super fast! I never liked bloated Firefox with all its add-ons, and Internet Explorer is just slow.
Microsoft Edge is a little faster than IE, but I use so many other Google services that Chrome won’t let me go. The new Firefox Quantum browser is even faster than Chrome and I was really thinking about switching.
When I first started using Chrome, I was delighted with its simple, clean interface and incredible browsing speed. However, after several months of heavy use of Chrome on a very fast PC, I noticed that the tabs would be blank for a few seconds before the web page loads and other general slowness.
Chrome Task Manager
After digging a bit, I decided to take a look at the task manager and see what processes are running for Chrome. Here’s what I found:
Holy cow! 35 Google Chrome processes! That’s a lot of processes plus over 5GB of memory. What are these Chrome processes? Of course, when I took the screenshot above, I had 16 tabs open, but all the web pages were static, with no video or animation playing. So why 35 processes and GB of memory?
You can find out what’s behind each of these processes in Chrome by right-clicking on the title bar (not on a tab) and choosing Task Manager.
Here you will see each process (called a task) running in Google Chrome. I was very surprised by what I saw.
The browser is one process, each tab is a separate process, and then there were the web app, GPU, and for every extension and plug-in I enabled! Eeex! From what I’ve read on the web on Google, they split everything into different processes because it makes the browser more stable. For example, if a Flash plugin crashes, it doesn’t close all of your tabs or your entire browser.
Having been using Google Chrome for so long, I figured it was true. There were many times when one tab died and I could just close the tab and continue using my other tabs normally, or Shockwave would just freeze and I would kill that tab and everything else worked fine.
So my next thought was for all the individual processes to use extra memory, as opposed to how they used to be. From what I’ve gathered online, it seems that even if there were fewer processes, plugins and extensions would still use memory, maybe a little less. There is little overhead to create a new process, but it is not significant.
You may also have noticed several elements listed as subframe: https://accounts.google.com. At first, I thought it had something to do with opening a tab in Gmail, but I realized that it was completely different. Basically, Google puts some processes in its own process to properly isolate them. As such, there were several websites that were inside these subframes instead of having their own separate tabbed process listed.
What can you do to reduce the amount of memory that Chrome uses? As for me, I noticed a big difference when I turned off flash for all sites rather than leaving it in the “Ask me first” setting. To turn off the flash completely, go to Settings, then click Advanced at the bottom, and then click Content Settings under Privacy & Security. Click on Flash and make sure it says Block sites that don’t run Flash.
This saved me over 1GB of storage. I didn’t know, but several websites were using Flash. Even with Flash disabled, websites were working fine, so I left Flash disabled. Another way to reduce memory space is to remove some extensions, especially if you are not using them. Alternatively, you can simply disable the extension if you need it from time to time and don’t want to remove it entirely.
Disabling an extension will prevent it from using memory. Finally, you might have noticed the GPU process in Chrome, which should be enabled by default. If your hardware supports it, Chrome will offload some of the tasks to your GPU, which is faster and more efficient than your CPU. This is called hardware acceleration. If you like, you can turn it off by going to Settings and then scrolling all the way down to System.
If you turn off hardware acceleration, Chrome is slightly slower, so keep that in mind.
So if you feel that Chrome is taking up too much RAM, check your Task Manager and try disabling an extension that is using excessive memory. As for me, I had an extension that I liked, but it hasn’t been updated since 2013, so it could use so much memory. If you do not need a resource-consuming extension, disable it for a better Internet experience. Also, disable Flash if you don’t really need it. Enjoy!