Sunday, November 10, 2013

How to tame Google Chrome’s memory use

Google's Chrome browser likes to use memory. That is not necessarily a bad thing, provided that the computer it is running on has plenty of it. If your computer has not that much, or if it is needed for other applications more than it is for Chrome, then you may be looking for ways to still the memory hunger of the Chrome web browser.
Before we start to look at measures to reduce Chrome's memory usage, we should take a look at finding out how much RAM the browser is actually using. Lets find out.

Chrome memory readings

You have three options to find out how much memory Google Chrome is using right now. Two of the options are implemented in the browser while one is made available by the operating system you are using.
1. The Task Manager
You can open the browser's Task Manager with a tap on Shift-Esc or by clicking on the options menu icon at the top of the browser interface and selecting Tools > Task Manager from the context menu here.
google chrome task manager
The task manager is not really the ideal option as you cannot modify the size of the window the information are displayed in. While you get information about the memory use of every tab, the browser, graphics processor, extensions and plugins.
It is great for a quick look at the worst offenders but that is about it. You can click on the memory or cpu header here to sort the tasks accordingly.
2. The chrome://memory-redirect/ page
You need to load the page chrome://memory-redirect/ in the browser's address bar to open a page listing all the memory information you could ever want, and then some.
google chrome memory
First thing that is interesting is that you also get memory use of other browsers listed here, as you can see from the screenshot above.
As far as Chrome is concerned, all of the browser's processes are displayed here, each with its memory use. One thing that is not so good is that you cannot sort the table, but it is automatically sorted by the process using the most memory.
3. The Task Manger (Windows)
I'm using Windows but other operating systems have a task manager as well. Windows users need to tap on Ctrl-Shift-Esc to open it up on their system.
google chrome processes
While you may be surprised at the number of Chrome processes listed here, it is not really helpful as you are not provided with details at all here besides that.

Taming Chrome

Now to the fun part. If you think that Chrome is using too much memory, you have a couple of options to get it to drop. Here are your options:
Check out all of your installed extensions. If you have many installed, they will accumulate quite a bit of memory. You may want to go through them to find out if you can get rid of some that you are not using at all anymore, or not often.
Instead of uninstalling them outright, you can alternatively disable them first.
To do so, load chrome://extensions/ in the browser's address bar and click on the box next to enabled.
This can also be a good way of disabling extensions that only work for a single website. Instead of running them all of the time in the browser, you only activate them if you are visiting the site in question.
2. Tabs
Browser tabs may use a large part of the memory the browser's using. If you regularly run 50 or more tabs in Chrome, you are using more than 500 Megabytes of RAM or more on tabs alone.
Standard websites may use between 10 to 50 Megabytes of RAM in a tab, which can quickly accumulate to lots of memory.
You do have a couple of options to deal with tabs.
First, you can close any that you no longer need, or bookmark it for later using and close it then.
A couple of extensions may help you as well with that:
  • One Tab - Converts all open tabs to a list saving memory in the progress as tabs are closed afterwards. You can open any of them at any time with a click on the extension's button.
  • The Great Suspender - Provides you with options to suspend tabs to reduce the browser's memory footprint.
  • Tab Hibernation - Sends inactive tabs automatically into hibernation to free up memory.
  • Foo-Tab - Stops all but one tab from loading when the browser starts up. Ideal for quicker start up times of Chrome and saving memory.

Closing Words

The two most effective options to reduce the memory use of Google Chrome are to uninstall or disable extensions, or to close tabs that are open in the browser. There is not a lot that you can do besides that, other than switching to a browser that is more memory efficient.

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