Google Chrome, the Memory Glutting Web Browser

Google Chrome has become a favorite browser for people worldwide. The browser supposedly handles 40,000 search queries every second on an average. Google Chrome took over the browser market because of its speedy performance. Coupled with an easy-to-use interface Chrome can load webpages in a fraction of a second. This made Google the king of the browser market.

It is estimated that Google Chrome holds approximately 60% of the browser market share worldwide. Therefore, it is safe to assume that many among us have it on our phones, desktops, laptops, and other devices. Although Chrome has received such wide acceptance among internet users, the browser does have its share of drawbacks. 

In case you are using Chrome on your desktop try opening your task manager. You will be shocked to find the number of processes run by Chrome alone that are eating up your memory. Especially if you are a heavy multitasker, with multiple tabs open, Chrome can drain your system’s resources fast. If you are using a computer that has poor RAM, it can make your computer sluggish.

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Why is Google Chrome Greedy for Memory?

Google Chrome is a superfast browser. The browser’s speed is attributed to Google sandboxing everything you are running. This means that Chrome splits up each tab and browser extension into its own process which occupies its own space in memory. The idea here is that if there is a problem with one page that causes it to crash, it won’t affect the rest of your browsing session.

Sandboxing is an excellent feature in case you open many tabs on your system. However, creating multiple processes means that Chrome uses up more RAM because every tab has to replicate the Chrome functionality. This leads to the conclusion that you are trading RAM usage for stability. 

Another reason for Google Chrome being fast is the fact that it dumps a lot of data into your system’s memory. RAM is the preferred location for Chrome’s data dump because it is much faster than long term memory such as SSD [Solid State Drive] or HDD [Hard Disk Drive]. This is because the web browser employs a technique called pre-rendering.

Pre rendering is when Chrome guesses what your next search might be and loads it automatically to your system’s memory even before you click on it. Since some elements were rendered ahead of your click, the search result will load faster once you click on your next search.

 A couple of years ago Google found vulnerabilities in modern CPUs that a process can use to read arbitrary memory, including memory that doesn’t belong to that process. These vulnerabilities were coined Specter and Meltdown. Due to these bugs, Chrome started loading data more aggressively into a system’s RAM which increased the browser’s RAM usage by 10%. 

This proves that the speed that you have come to experience with the Google Chrome browser is because it hogs on your system’s RAM. This can cause major problems if your computer has poor RAM. For instance, if you have a computer that houses 4GB RAM and you have multiple tabs open, your computer will crash with the load. If you have an 8 GB RAM with multiple tabs open and high definition video running at the same time you will experience some slowdowns while working on the browser.

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How to Curb Chrome Greed?

If you think logically there are two solutions to solve this memory hogging problem. One is to find what is using up so much of memory and close it or you could get a computer with a higher RAM capacity. If you are thinking of switching to a new browser, it will not be effective because most of the other browsers also use the same sandboxing paradigm to make their respective browsers work faster. 

Google has employed memory management tricks to compensate for the browser’s heavy RAM usage. The browser uses tab discarding where Chrome automatically unloads from the memory the tabs that you aren’t using or haven’t used recently.

If you want added protection from the memory eating problem, simply go to your Chrome’s task manager by pressing Shift and then the Esc button. This will give you an accurate idea of how much memory each tab and extension is currently utilizing. To know which tab is using the most data click the top of the Memory column. The task manager will sort memory usage from the highest RAM use to lowest.

Sorting the processes will give you a clear idea of which tab or extension is consuming the most memory. You can then close those tabs you feel are not being used but consuming a lot of memory. You can also uninstall memory heavy extensions that are slowing down your computer. 

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Memory Freeing Extensions

This technique is for those of you who have no option to close those two dozen tabs that are opened on the Chrome browser.  There are memory freeing extensions that you can install on your Chrome which can make a significant reduction in the RAM usage by the browser. 

The Great Suspender is a memory freeing extension that can suspend all but one tab. After you install the extension, simply go to the tab you want to keep working on and click the Great Suspender button. You will see an option to suspend other tabs. 

This extension gives you greater control of your tabs. It also allows you to keep some tabs open all the time in case you don’t want it closed while working on another webpage, it could be your mail inbox. You can reload the suspended tabs by clicking anywhere on your screen.

There are other extensions such as OneTab and Session Buddy that can help you suspend tabs and free some memory. These are some of the methods you can employ to free your RAM space so that your computer doesn’t slow down while you work. 

Try one of these methods to see which one suits your computer the best. 

More to read:

10 Best Google Chrome Extensions.


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