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If you’ve done any research at all into different browsers, you’re likely familiar with the fact that Chrome can be a bit of a resource hog — looking at Task Manager or Activity Monitor, you’ll often see Chrome at the top of the list.

But why does it use up so much RAM, especially compared to other browsers? And what can you do to keep it in check?

Does Chrome Really Use More RAM?

In short, yes. Chrome’s RAM-hungry reputation is deserved. Compared to other browsers, it doesn’t always use a huge amount of memory, but it does use more. ITPro’s recent test showed that with a Facebook page, a YouTube video, a BBC article, the Outlook web app, and a webpage open, Chrome used almost 600 MB of RAM, while Firefox used just over 400 MB.

And if you’ve ever run your own test, you’ll almost certainly have found that Chrome uses more memory than other browsers, including Opera, Firefox, Edge, and—just barely–Internet Explorer. Chrome is one of the fastest browsers Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox The browser you're using right now may not be the best one for you. The browser arena changes so frequently that your conclusions from comparisons made last year may be completely wrong this year. Read More out there, but it needs a lot of resources to take that title.

Why Does Chrome Use So Much RAM?

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.

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chrome-activity

Why does Chrome use RAM in this way? It has to do with stability and speed.

By running each process separately, 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 was 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, as shown in the image below. 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.

single-v-multi-process

In addition to the tabs, plugins, and extensions, a few other processes also use RAM, with pre-rendering being a notable example. Pre-rendering lets Chrome start loading up a webpage that it predicts you’ll go to next (it might be the top search result from Google, or the “next page” link on a news site). This requires resources, and so uses more RAM, but it can really speed up your browsing experience if it’s working well.

If it’s not working well, it can slow everything down by taking control over too much of your RAM.

Is Chrome’s RAM Usage a Problem?

Of course, just because Chrome is using a lot of RAM doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily causing a problem. If you aren’t using RAM, it’s not doing you any good — your computer only uses it to access data quickly and speed up processing. If you’re keeping your RAM as clear as possible, you’re not going to be taking advantage of the power of your computer. Just like on your cell phone Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android At first glance, RAM boosters and task killers sound incredibly useful, but a closer look shows that they could actually be harming your phone instead. Read More , clearing out your running processes might actually slow things down.

However, if Chrome is using too much RAM, it can be a problem, as it will limit the amount of memory available for other apps, and it could even have trouble keeping important information from your browser available for quick access.

chrome-activities

When it comes down to it, Chrome’s RAM usage is only a problem if it’s slowing things down, whether it’s your browsing or your entire computer. If you see that it’s using a lot of RAM but you aren’t seeing any negative speed consequences, it’s not worth worrying about.

That said, if it is slowing things down, it’s time to take action.

How to Reduce Chrome’s RAM Usage

There are a lot of ways you can speed up your browsing and reduce the amount of memory that it’s using, but possibly the most important is Chrome’s Task Manager Why Everyone Needs to Be Using Chrome's Best Feature Why Everyone Needs to Be Using Chrome's Best Feature Chrome has a lot of useful features, but one stands out as so useful that every single person should learn how to use and take advantage of it. Read More . Much like the Windows Task Manager, you can use this window to see which tabs and extensions are using the most memory and close them to free up some space.

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

chrome-task-manager

Once you’ve gotten rid of the resource-heavy processes, there are a number of other things you can do. Enabling tab discarding This is How Google is Fixing Chrome's Memory Problems and Discarding Tabs This is How Google is Fixing Chrome's Memory Problems and Discarding Tabs Google Chrome is just so slow and annoying. Right? Google is now rolling out major changes to the browser that fix memory problems and actively discards unused tabs. Read More , for example, will allow Chrome to get rid of tabs that you haven’t used in a long time if memory is low.

tab-discarding

You can also disable extensions that are using a lot of power, or add a few extensions that will help you manage the amount of resources Is Chrome Hogging All Your RAM? Make It Behave With These 2 Extensions Is Chrome Hogging All Your RAM? Make It Behave With These 2 Extensions Chrome or Firefox? This might be the hottest question in today’s tech community, and one you’ll never find a straight answer for. Personally, I think both browsers are great, but have been using Firefox more... Read More that Chrome is using. You can also delete the History Provider Cache Don't Give Up on Chrome Until You've Done This First Don't Give Up on Chrome Until You've Done This First If you're contemplating ditching Chrome and switching to Internet Explorer or Firefox, I can relate. Some solutions did help improve Chrome a little, but there was only one thing that fixed the problem. Read More  to free up some space, and tweak hidden settings 10 Hidden Chrome Settings You Should Be Changing 10 Hidden Chrome Settings You Should Be Changing There’s more to Chrome settings than the basic tweaks you made when you first set up your browser. Let’s see what that involves. Read More  or mess around with Chrome flags Speed Up Chrome By Changing These 8 Flags Speed Up Chrome By Changing These 8 Flags While many people claim Chrome is a memory hog, it is possible to greatly improve your browser's speed by tweaking some "flags". Here are the eight best tweaks that you can make today. Read More . And, of course, you can always use a different browser, which may be a good idea if you’re using a MacBook 10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Chrome on a MacBook 10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Chrome on a MacBook Chrome is, for many people, the first thing installed on a new Macbook. It makes sense: in its early days Chrome gained a reputation for being lightweight and fast. Read More .

How Does Chrome Work for You?

Because Chrome still controls a huge majority of the browser market, it’s unlikely that you’ve switched to another browser, like the ever under-appreciated Opera 3 Unmissable Reasons Opera Is the Right Browser for Your Mac 3 Unmissable Reasons Opera Is the Right Browser for Your Mac Chrome and Firefox rule on Windows, but on OS X, Opera is the browser to beat. Eternal favorites Chrome and Firefox can give you flexibility, but not without some heavy compromises. Read More , or the ultra-new Edge 10 Reasons You Should Be Using Microsoft Edge Now 10 Reasons You Should Be Using Microsoft Edge Now Microsoft Edge marks a complete break from the Internet Explorer brand name, killing off a 20-year-old family tree in the process. Here's why you should be using it. Read More . If you’re still using Google’s popular browser, we want to know why, and if you have any problems with resource consumption or speed.

How do you find Chrome? Does it use up all of your RAM? Or is it pretty reasonable in how many resources it consumes? Have you tried solving the problem, or is it still happening? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

  1. my mom
    November 17, 2016 at 11:13 am

    im never ever using this browser i dont want google spying on me what i search and i prefer firefox its a better browser

    • Dann Albright
      November 28, 2016 at 2:43 am

      That's totally fine . . . but if you're never going to use Chrome, why are you reading and commenting on this article?

  2. Ankit
    August 5, 2016 at 11:24 am

    The day I started using The Great Suspender chrome application, I never faced RAM issue because of chrome.

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-great-suspender/klbibkeccnjlkjkiokjodocebajanakg?hl=en

    • Dave
      September 25, 2016 at 9:42 am

      I agree, the great suspender makes chrome a brand new browser

    • Dave
      September 25, 2016 at 9:43 am

      Another vote for the great suspender!

      • olamoree
        November 5, 2016 at 7:10 pm

        The Great Suspender works just great! I also use One Tab to store my tabs and easily get them back when I want, even from days ago. Try it.

        • Dann Albright
          November 12, 2016 at 10:57 pm

          That sounds cool too. I've been running an absolutely ridiculous number of tabs lately, so maybe I'll try it!

    • Dann Albright
      October 19, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      I've been trying to limit my tab usage, but that's been a struggle . . . maybe I'll give this a shot!

  3. Glen
    July 7, 2016 at 12:07 am

    try Maxthon's new Nitro Browser...no bells and whistles, but great speed

    • Dann Albright
      October 19, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      Is that available for Mac? I think last time I checked, it wasn't.

  4. A41202813GMAIL ..
    June 18, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    People With 32Bit OSs ( Like Me ) Can Have Extensions Installed ( Rapidly Switching From Enabled/Disabled ) To Solve Most Of Those Problems:

    I Use These Extensions Code IDs In No Particular Order:

    EANGILBDBECADGECLBEHNKIBPMEDAOIH

    GAODMENEKCCDOMEICDOLDGDPCEMLGIAG

    GNNGGBEDBBEGBDNMIMDHKHKFDCIKFNJL

    KAAMKONBEPHAFCOJGAJNBGBDGBGBBOAP

    KLBIBKECCNJLKJKIOKJODOCEBAJANAKG

    PMBFKCGPLCMLMOCCJBCGMOPKBEFNDHPD

    Cheers.

  5. Stephen Prentice
    June 18, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Open tabs is obviously one of the main resource hogs in Chrome since each tab is run in its own process. I also use The Great Suspender. It puts those open tabs to sleep and frees up some RAM.

    • Dann Albright
      June 27, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      Yep, running each tab in its own process takes up a lot of RAM. But it does wonders for stability and speed!

  6. you
    June 18, 2016 at 11:34 am

    The Great Suspender has helped a ton. Rather than act as a pack rat and retain my tabs forever, I've decided once a tab has been suspended, it's soon time to make the decision to keep or discard. If there is a whole series of tabs to close, then I ctrl-click (cmd-click on Apple) the first one, shift-click the last one in the series, and close them all with ctrl-w (cmd-w on Apple).

    I often don't know what I'm closing, and that's okay. If it was important, I will remember and I can quickly find it again in my history.

    • Dann Albright
      June 21, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      I've heard a lot of good things about the Great Suspender, and I think closing down tabs that you don't know what they are is a great idea. Probably won't miss it if you don't even remember what it is. :-) And yes, getting good at finding things in your history is a great skill, especially when you get in the habit of closing a lot of tabs!

  7. me
    June 18, 2016 at 3:04 am

    I use a lot of tab effectively. Each website takes time to load, and I don't want to do nothing, but wait(even if its a couple seconds). Say your compare the same type of product, but dozens of manufacturers make it differently. So you have google open in tab 1. As you go through the results and find interesting one you right click and open in new tab, and repeat the process down the list. Click Next and repeat. Now you have say 20 tabs open, and you go through those, and you close them down one at a time.

    After repeating this process you will have a top 10 list you can then prune down to the final choice.

    • you
      June 18, 2016 at 11:25 am

      You can speed up that strategy by ctrl-clicking (cmd-clicking on Apple) for each new tab you want to open.

    • Me
      June 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      Or just use middle click (if you are using a mouse) to open links in background tabs.

    • Dann Albright
      June 21, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      If you close them as soon as you're done using them, then yes, having a lot of tabs open isn't going to be a problem. It's when you have 20 or 30 tabs open for long periods of time that you'll start to see the browser start to bog down.

      • me
        June 21, 2016 at 3:19 pm

        Firefox has a option to re-open all the tabs from a previous session so I don't use chrome that much. Opening 100 tabs every day in chrome is tedious. Firefox does not bog down unless a tab miss behaves.

        • Dan ___
          June 22, 2016 at 1:24 pm

          I used to have Chrome configured to open my last browser session, but these days I need all the mystery and adventure I can get.

        • Dann Albright
          June 27, 2016 at 3:06 pm

          Certainly can't argue with mystery and adventure. :-) I have Chrome reopen my tabs, but I close it so rarely that I don't have to take advantage of that very often. I should probably close it a lot more often . . .

  8. fcd76218
    June 17, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    " Enabling tab discarding, for example, will allow Chrome to get rid of tabs that you haven’t used in a long time if memory is low."
    How about not opening up so many tabs in the first place? Many people have no browsing discipline whatsoever. For the sake of convenience, they set their browser, whether it be Chrome or any other, to automatically open all the tabs they MIGHT need. Then they keep the tabs open, whether they use them or not. Once they have all the tabs open, there so many that the tab titles become so truncated that they can't tell which tab does what. To solve the problem the users install additional extension and add-ons to summarize and organize the tabs. How many tabs can one work with realistically at one time? 4? 5? Maybe 6? Please note I said "work with", not "have open". Having dozens of tabs open concurrently is counter-productive because once one gets beyond a certain number of tabs, one spends more time thrashing between tabs than actually doing useful work.

    • Ewan yates
      June 18, 2016 at 9:15 am

      You've just described my Web browsing habit. Glad to know I'm not the only one who does this.

    • likefun butnot
      June 18, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      @fcd76218

      Why not just use a browser that is capable of dealing with a real tab workload? Mozilla-derived browsers (I prefer Palemoon) can scale to deal with dozens or hundreds of open tabs without requiring any change in my browsing habits or using an unreasonable allocation of system resources.

      You're not in a position to judge my or anyone else's work habits.

      • fcd76218
        June 19, 2016 at 12:25 am

        Tell me that you actively use more than 5 or 6 tabs concurrently out of the dozens or hundreds you have open. And I don't mean the tabs that have some kind monitoring jobs running in them.

        "You’re not in a position to judge my or anyone else’s work habits."
        But I am in a position to have an opinion.

    • Dann Albright
      June 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      Yeah, a lot of people could cut down on the number of tabs that they have open, but I just don't see that happening. Unless it's causing a big problem (and, for most people, I think it's not), it's not that big of a deal. And the convenience, or at least potential convenience, of having them all open appeals to a lot of people.

      • fcd76218
        June 21, 2016 at 1:52 pm

        "or at least potential convenience"
        I think that should be "perceived" convenience. :-)
        What takes more time - open up a new tab or search through those already open? What is more efficient in terms of system resources?

        • Dann Albright
          June 27, 2016 at 3:06 pm

          Well, convenience that's perceived is probably more important than convenience that isn't, right? :-) I mean, really, the drive for productivity and efficiency is mostly about how productive we perceive ourselves to be. Also, some people just don't work well with closing tabs . . . everyone has their own working style, and certain things work better for certain people. That's just how it is.

  9. dragonbite
    June 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Chrome uses more RAM, but I find when using it then Chrome is more responsive, like it is ready to pounce on the job you ask of it.

    I have reduced my extensions to the bare minimum and pulled out every app that takes up memory (is more than a glorified shortcut) and it still takes up more than Firefox.

    But if I am going to be doing a number of things online (email, google docs or office online, etc) Google makes it feel more responsive and like running local apps compared to Firefox and Edge.

    • Dann Albright
      June 21, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      Yeah, that's the tradeoff; it uses a lot of RAM, but it's really fast. The problem arises when it starts using too much RAM, which can happen if you have a ton of resource-intensive tabs and extensions running. You're right about it feeling like you're using local apps; I hadn't thought of it that way, but that's a great way to describe it!

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