Here’s How To Overcome Google Chrome Using A Lot Of RAM

By | April 14, 2022

If you’ve done any research on the different browsers, you’re familiar with the fact that Chrome can be a resource of sorts. Take a glance at your Task Manager or Activity Monitor, and you’ll often see Chrome at the top of the list.

But why does Chrome use so much RAM, especially compared to other browsers? And what can you do to make sure?

Does Google Chrome Really Use More RAM?

A few years ago, the only answer was Yes. The RAM hungry reputation of Google Chrome is well known.

However, in 2019, and compared to other browsers, it doesn’t always use a large amount of memory. In fact, at times, Mozilla, Edge, Opera, and Safari all use more RAM than Chrome. How do I know this? I ran a short test, opening the Facebook page, YouTube video, BBC Sport website, and Twitter in a clean browser.

The results will interest you.

There’s Google Chrome, sitting happily amidst other browsers. Of course this is an anecdote. And there’s more than enough evidence that Chrome is a big RAM-hog. If you’ve ever run your own browser’s RAM usage test, there’s a good chance you’ll find Chrome using more RAM than other browsers.

Google Chrome is really one of the fastest browsers, but it takes a lot of RAM to take that title.

Why Does Google Chrome Use So Much RAM?

To understand why Chrome uses so much memory, you need to understand how most modern browsers now operate.

Every application on your computer runs a number of processes in your computer’s RAM, where the hard work of running your computer takes place. RAM is temporary storage for all kinds of data, and it is very fast. Your CPU can access the data stored in your system RAM much faster than a hard drive, or even an SSD.

Chrome, Firefox, and Opera store all tabs, plugins, and extensions in separate RAM processes. This process is called isolation and prevents one process from writing to another.

Therefore, when you open Task Manager or Activity Monitor, Google Chrome (as well as Firefox and Opera) displays several entries. If you look closely, you can see that each process only uses a small amount of RAM, but when you add it, the load is very high.

How Does Google Chrome Manage RAM?

Modern browsers like Chrome use RAM in this way to offer better stability and faster speeds. This is how Chrome handles RAM.

By running each process separately, if one crashes, the entire browser remains stable. Sometimes, the plugin or extension will fail, requiring you to refresh the tabs. If each tab and extension is running in the same process, you may have to restart the entire browser instead of a single tab.

The downside is that multiple processes that the browser can share one process between tabs must be replicated for each tab in Chrome. Splitting into multiple processes also provides security benefits, similar to sandboxing or using virtual machines.

For example, if a JavaScript attack occurs in one tab, there is no way to cross to another tab in Chrome, whereas it might happen in a single-process browser.

In addition to tabs, plugins, and extensions, several other processes also use RAM.

Pre-rendering is an important example. Pre-rendering allows Chrome to start loading the web page you predict you’ll visit next (perhaps the top search result from Google, or a “next page” info on a news site). The pre-rendering process takes up resources, and therefore uses more RAM. But it can also speed up your browsing experience if it works well.

If it’s not working properly, the pre-rendering process (or any other process Chrome uses to improve your browsing experience) can slow things down by using too much RAM.

Is Google Chrome’s RAM Usage a Problem?

How much RAM does Chrome need? Is there a limit to the RAM Chrome will use before it becomes a problem? The answer lies in your system hardware.

Just because Chrome is using a lot of RAM doesn’t mean RAM is causing problems. If your system isn’t using the available RAM, it’s of no use to you; your computer uses only RAM to access data quickly and speed up processing. If you keep your RAM as clear as possible, you will not take advantage of the power of your computer.
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However, if Chrome uses too much memory, it can turn into a problem. When Chrome uses too much memory, it limits the amount available to other programs. Chrome can even start struggling to keep important information from your browser available for quick access, negating RAM usage to begin with.

When it comes down to it, Chrome’s RAM usage is only a problem if it’s slowing down your computer, whether it’s your browser or your entire system. If you see Chrome using a lot of memory, but no negative performance consequences, that’s nothing to worry about.

For example, sometimes I have 50 or more Chrome tabs open, using 3.5GB RAM or more. That sounds like a huge amount, but my system has 16GB of RAM to work with, so this isn’t a problem.

If Chrome’s memory usage is slowing things down, it’s time to take action.

How to Reduce Google Chrome’s RAM Usage

There are several ways to speed up your browsing experience and reduce the amount of memory Chrome uses. The most important tool at your disposal is Chrome’s Task Manager.

Similar to Windows Task Manager, Chrome Task Manager shows the performance and consumption of each tab and extension within the browser. You can use Chrome’s Task Manager to find out what’s using up the most memory, then close it to free up space.

In Windows, just press Shift + Esc to access the Task Manager; on a Mac, you’ll need to open it from the Window menu. Select a process, then press End process.

Look for tabs and extensions that are bloated in size. Sometimes a single Chrome tab can use a lot of memory due to a bug or bad configuration. Sometimes a Chrome memory leak will cause your browser to freeze (or even your entire system). Once you’ve killed a resource-consuming process, there are a few other things you can do.

Use Chrome Flags to Manage RAM Usage

Chrome has many secret, often experimental, features known as “Flags.” One of those flags allows tab deletion. Discard Tabs automatically removes background tabs from your system memory when they are low. The tab stays in place, but won’t load or display content until you click it.

Input chrome://flags/ in your address bar, then search for “automatic tab removal.” Move the Flag to Enabled.

Another flag that works well with Automatic Tab Deletion is “Show Saved Copy Button.” The Show Saved Copy button will appear after the browser has removed a tab, asking if you want to reload the latest version of the page from the browser cache.

Manage Plugins and Extensions to Save Chrome Memory

You can disable power-consuming extensions. Or, you can set it to be enabled only when using certain sites.

For example, I use the Grammarly extension, but I don’t need it to check my grammar on every website I visit. Right-click the extension and select Manage extensions. Change “Allow this extension to read and change all your data on the websites you visit” to Clicks or On specific sites.

If you have a lot of extensions that you use for different things, consider installing a quick extension manager. SimpleExtManager adds a small drop-down box next to your extension tray. Then it is one click on and off for all extensions.

Download: SimpleExtManager (Free)

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