Is Your Computer Slow? Maybe Chrome Is Hogging Memory and Battery.


Take a little time for some spring cleaning and new habits to eliminate frustrations with a sluggish computer and so you use your time more efficiently on the web.

If you didn’t know, Google’s Chrome browser has a reputation for being a memory hog. Thankfully, Google has been working to ease the demand Chrome puts on your computer’s resources. I also suggest you set aside time for a bit of cleaning to help you and your computer.

Choose Your Tool

Your first step from today’s “spring-cleaning” post may be to simply switch browsers.  Most of us have multiple browsers, so choosing which to use for a specific purpose is an easy choice to make. This article from Digital Trends will help you learn the differences between the browsers to help you decide which to use.

Chrome is the most-used browser, so totally abandoning it is probably not what you want, even if you’ve discovered it’s slowing your computer down or shortening how long you can depend on your battery. Chrome may be to blame if your battery life is not what you’d like, especially if you’re using an Apple product. (Safari will be faster for Macs.)

Read on for ways to polish Chrome to make it shine.

Your Chrome Spring-Cleaning Tasks

Your extensions, tabs, and bookmarks put a load on Chrome because it’s managing more content. For speed and for your convenience (that is, after all, why we love this browser), Chrome runs the same processes for every open tab and also stores information, allowing you to open many tabs and quickly. For a computer with limited storage, this may mean your computer will become sluggish. For a laptop, this may mean your battery drains before you’re done for the day.

Choose any number of the following “spring-cleaning” ideas to make Chrome better. You choose whether to dust off or hose down. I also recommend you pick up at least one new habit from the last section, as well.

Change Settings

Google Chrome runs in the background even when you’ve closed it. To be sure that Chrome is actually not running when you’ve closed it, follow these instructions from CNET.

Disable any themes. Enter chrome://settings in the address bar. Under Appearance, use the default instead of a theme. Changing the background image in Gmail will also save some memory. I just switched to a lighter theme instead of a personal photo.

Turn It Off

Leaving Chrome open is not necessary. It’s easy to pick back up where you were or to open Chrome with your most-used tabs ready to go.

Again, enter chrome://settings. Under On Startup choose one of the three options.

  1. Open the New Tab page
  2. Continue where you left off
  3. Open a specific page or set of pages

Trash the Cache

Depending on how much you use the Internet, regularly throw your cached items (stored temporary data) in the trash. Type chrome://settings/clearBrowserData into the address bar to bring up the Clear Browsing Data window. I usually choose to “obliterate” from the beginning of time. Check, at minimum, the “cached images and files” option. Alternatively, choose some of the other options. Hit the Clear Browsing Data button.

Sweep Away Those Extra Extensions

Type chrome://extensions/ to see all the extensions you’re using with Chrome. I noticed about four or so that I wasn’t really using, so I disabled them. It’s easy to re-enable in the future if needed.

I now have 14 extensions I’m using and 26 that are disabled. One of the 26 I’ll only turn back on when I’m online shopping instead of having it on constantly. Also, I disabled Grammarly because it does weird things with WordPress. I’ll turn it on when I’m using Word.

For more details and suggestions, I recommend Browser Slow? How to Make Google Chrome Fast Again by How-to Geek.

Your New Habits

Next, try one or both of the following two habits. I strongly suggest both of them, but at minimum get in the habit of limiting how many tabs are open.

Close Those Tabs

As I said earlier, you don’t need Chrome open all the time and you also don’t necessarily need all the tabs you’re working with open simultaneously. I’ll suggest two easy solutions for you.

The easiest solution is to be in the habit of only having what you really need open. I’ll write a little more about that in the bookmark section coming up.

I also highly recommend the OneTab Chrome extension. If I start having too many tabs open, I use OneTab to save them as links in OneTab. I open these links back up later all at once or one at a time. This extension is very useful for when I research for a blog post like this one. I found a dozen good articles and saved them in OneTab last night. When I was ready to write today, I opened them back up.

I believe the best use for OneTab is for short-term work. If you want to save links for future reference, bookmarking them is better.

Store Your Bookmarks in a Bookmark Manager

I have way too many bookmarks in my bookmark toolbar. I really only use a small fraction of them.

I recently discovered Papaly, which I’m finding useful to organize what sites I need for when I need them. Add the Papaly extension and then follow these instructions to get started with Papaly.

I’m in the process of deleting over 90% of my bookmarks from Chrome’s bookmarks bar. Because 100% of them are now neatly shelved in Papaly, I’m only keeping my “every day” bookmarks in the toolbar. It’s really unnecessary for Chrome to keep track of hundreds of my bookmarks every time it opens.

You might be familiar with Evernote and Pocket and prefer to use these great tools. I tend to use Evernote like a file cabinet of useful information and Pocket as a place to save something I’d like to read later.

It’s time to put up my mop and send these ideas along to you.

Remember…

Friends don’t let friends have too many tabs open in Chrome!

NOTES:

  • Maybe your computer is slow for other reasons:
    • If your problem is actually about a poor Internet connection, then consider installing the Google Data Saver extension, which uses the Google servers to compress and optimize web pages before delivering them to Chrome.
    • If your computer is still slow, you may have other issues. Check this article: 13 Reasons Why Your Computer Is Slow.
  • A big thank you to ZDNet for their Ten Tips article which was very helpful in my research.
  • The following idea is only for the brave… use Chrome Flags to disable some functions. Click on over to this article by PC World. Scroll on down to “Experiment at Your Own Risk” to determine if you want to disable some Chrome features.
  • If you’re the type of person who asks “why” then read LifeHacker’s Why Chrome Uses So Much Freaking RAM.
  • The Spring Cleaning sign is courtesy of the Direct Energy blog.

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