Add-ons can slow down your browser. Wouldn’t you like to identify the culprits?
The average MakeUseOf reader has 1-20 browser add-ons installed. Depending on the number and type of add-ons, this can have a significant effect on your browser. So unless you’re one of the rare types, you probably know what I’m talking about.
One solution is indeed to avoid add-ons all together, and use bookmarklets to achieve many of the same effects. But wouldn’t it be great if you could know for sure which add-ons are OK to use, and which ones are slowing you down? You can do this by disabling all your add-ons and adding them back one by one, or you could give Guardius a try.
Guardius? Is That Yet Another Add-On?
Not quite. Guardius is not a browser add-on but an actual desktop program you need to install (fancy, I know). It’s currently in closed, invite-only beta, but the developers were generous enough to provide us with some exclusive invites just for you. You can find out more on how to get yours at the end of this article. But first, let’s see what Guardius is all about.
Before You Get Started
Even before that, though, I’d like to emphasize again that Guardius is still very much in beta. Since this is a service that uses crowdsourcing as its means of operation, it will naturally get more powerful the more users it has. At the moment, Guardius is not as useful as it could be, but the idea behind it is a good one, which led me to trying it out and writing this article.
Don’t expect miracles right off the bat. As with every successful product, we need to be patient here too. The cool thing is that you can start using it right now (if you get hold of one of our invites), and watch as it develops from sort of useful to amazingly useful.
Getting Started With Guardius
The installation process is quick and easy, but don’t get confused by the post-installation instructions. These tell you to look for Guardius on the bottom right corner of your browser window. It’s not there.
Like I mentioned earlier, Guardius is not a browser add-on, it’s a desktop program, and as such, you’ll find it in your system tray, where you can double click its icon and see how your browsers are doing.
Guardius works with Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer, and will display information for any of the three you have installed. For each browser, you’ll see how its speed compares to other users, and what add-ons or toolbars might be slowing it down. This data comes from analyzing what other users have removed and how it affected their browsers.
Using the dropdown menu on top, you can switch between your browsers, if you use multiple ones. For each, you might or might not get recommendations to remove add-ons and toolbars.
Despite having to restart your browser to get Guardius to detect new add-ons, it will sometimes automatically pop up and tell you that this or that add-on might be slowing you down.
If it does find something, you can hit “More Details” to see the culprits, and get a better understanding of what these recommendations are based on. In this case, it seems that 171,842 users recommend that I turn off Photo Zoom for Facebook.
Saying that these users “recommend” might be a bit misleading; users don’t actually get to say anything in this process, it’s all automatic. You can’t actually recommend anything to anyone, but if you remove an add-on and things get better, it does this for you automatically.
See that “turn it off” button on the screenshot above? Well, it does nothing, at least on my system. While Guardius did provide several recommendations, I couldn’t manage to turn off anything using its interface. It would say that it turned it off, ask me to restart by browser, but when I looked at my add-ons, the culprit was still there.
Not only that, but Guardius kept telling me I should remove it and prompted me to do so. After a chat with the Guardius team, I discovered that Guardius doesn’t support Window 8, which is why my add-ons were not getting removed. In fact, it only supports Windows 7 at this time. Not ideal, but at least I have the information and can remove it manually if I decide to.
The other significant problem with Guardius is that it’s pretty bare on information at the moment. I enabled every add-on I’ve ever used or tried, and all Guardius could provide was information on one measly add-on. Not very impressive, but this is bound to improve as the user base expands.
Guardius also messed up some hotkeys on my system, but this might be unique to my setup, or might be due to its Windows 8 incompatibility.
OK, I Want In!
Guardius is not perfect, but it’s still in closed beta, so that’s only to be expected. If you’re comfortable with trying out beta products, this is definitely one you want to check out. Don’t worry, it’s not going to mess up with anything, the worst it can do in its current state is give you no recommendations, but you will be joining the user base, and will help others make good decisions about their add-ons and toolbars.
The normal wait time for a Guardius invite is 1-2 weeks. We have a unique download link for Guardius that will get you the app immediately, no wait necessary. The link is only valid for 100 downloads, so hurry up and get yours!
Download Guardius <- Note that this link will start downloading the installer immediately. This is a Windows download, Mac version is on the way.
[Update: some users were having trouble with installation. The developers fixed the issue, and the installer should work now. If you're not running Windows 7, Guardius might still work, but is not yet officially supported.]
How do you deal with too many add-ons? Do you have a good system that helps you discover problematic add-ons? Managed to grab a copy of Guardius and want to share your experiences? Leave a comment below.