Modern web applications day by day make more use of client side scripting causing more and more local RAM and CPU usage.

Considering that most of the people hardware (PCs, notebook, tablets, and smartphones) has multiple CPU cores and generous speed this is not affecting overall performances but speaking in terms of memory RAM this is not true and even PCs equipped with a generous amount of RAM (8 or 16 Gbyte) reach the limit.

Analyzing the behavior of some popular websites and web application with different browsers we can see that memory usage is not exactly the same confirming that Chrome is really using more resources than competitors. If we do some research online Google support suggest us to use Chrome Task Manager tool to kill some memory hungry processes but they do not give us any reasonable explanation on why this is happening.

To understand why Chrome uses so much memory, you need to understand a bit about what makes Chrome different from other browsers. Every app on your computer runs a number of processes in your computer’s RAM, where the hard work of running your computer is done. RAM is temporary storage for data, and it’s very fast; your CPU can access the data that’s there much faster than it could pull the data off of your hard drive.

What makes Chrome’s use of RAM unique is that it stores every tab, plugin, and extension in a different RAM process. This is called process isolation, and it prevents one process from writing to another one. This is why you see a ton of different entries for Chrome when you open up Task Manager or Activity Monitor on your computer. Each of these processes only uses a small amount of memory, but when you add them up, the load can be very high.

By running each process independently, if one of them crashes, the entire browser remains stable. Sometimes a plugin will fail, for example, and that will require that you refresh the tab. If every tab and plugin were run in the same process, it could require that you close and reopen the whole browser, instead of just the tab.

This means that some processes that single-process browsers are able to share between tabs need to be replicated for each tab in Chrome. This comes with some security benefits, however, much like sandboxing or using a virtual machine do. For example, if a JavaScript attack takes place in one tab, there’s no way for it to get to another tab in Chrome, whereas it might be able to do that in a single-process browser.

In addition to the tabs, plugins, and extensions, a few other processes also use RAM, with pre-rendering for example. Pre-rendering allows Chrome start loading up a web page that it predicts you’ll go to next (prefetching). This requires resources, and so uses more RAM, but it can really speed up your browsing experience if it’s working well, getting even better results when connected to a slow connection or Wifi with poor signal.

If memory is not enough pre-rendering and tabs management will not work properly slowing down all the system.

What is the solution when  Chrome is affecting overall performances?

A little common sense will surely help, so after understanding the particularity of Chrome processes management it is suggested to reduce the number of tabs open, if you do not need a particular page/application in a short time do not leave the tab open.

Another trick that may help you is to let Chrome do the job for you! Since version 46 Google introduced in Chrome an option to automatically discard uninteresting background tabs.

This functionality is not present on the setting control panel of Chrome but you can enable it by direct line command, just writing in the URL bar:

chrome://flags/#enable-tab-discarding

This will open a page with a lot of hidden/experimental settings, scroll down to find the option called “Automatic tab discarding” and change the value from Default to Enable.

Click then on “Relaunch now” to reboot the browser and apply the new settings.

By digiting:

chrome://discards/

on the address bar, you will see a page with a list of all your open tabs and you can also decide to discard manually some of them that you are not going to use in a short time but for some reason, you don’t want to close it.


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