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You have invested yourself into Chrome and might even call yourself a power user. But Chrome is at an excruciating level of slowness, completely disrupting your workflow and pushing you far past the point of just frustration.
There are a lot of things you can do to speed Chrome up… and you’ve tried all of them, with no avail. Now you’re contemplating ditching Chrome and switching to Internet Explorer or Firefox. I can relate. In fact, this was my exact situation. Some solutions did help improve Chrome a little, but there was only one thing that fixed the problem.
Aside from general sluggishness, which can be attributed to a lot of things, the primary issue I was having was an agonizingly slow and laggy address bar, also known as the Omnibox. It was so bad that I could type out the entire search or URL and then sit back and wait for what seemed like an eternity for the text to appear. Several threads in the Google Product Forums discussed this exact issue, but many of the recommended “fixes” didn’t solve this problem for the majority of users.
Some of these included clearing browser data (cache, history, cookies, etc.), removing or disabling extensions, disabling plugins, closing and reopening Chrome, turning off hardware acceleration, restarting the PC, reinstalling Chrome.
Before You Start
Be sure to take a backup of your settings before you attempt any of the following instructions. For instance, you could sync your Chrome settings, upload your bookmarks to Xmarks, and use a tool like LastPass for your passwords.
It’s crucial you backup your Chrome profile, otherwise all personalized settings will be lost. You can do this by going to the top “three-line” Chrome Customizations button and clicking “Settings”.
At the top of the Settings page will be the option to sync your Chrome browser with your Google account. Sign in, then click the “Advanced sync settings” button to toggle what you do and don’t want to sync.
If you were hoping to do this manually, I’m sorry, but those files which you’d be copying are what you’ll be deleting, thus you need to ensure all is backed up to your Google account.
By the time I discovered this solution, I was so worn out and frustrated that I would have tried anything (not a good state of mind to be in when troubleshooting), but thankfully this worked out and the results were instant.
With Chrome closed, open up your file browser (e.g. Windows Explorer) and input the following:
Deleting any other history, temporary or cache files doesn’t work, but manually deleting what is called the History Provider Cache file does. Once you’ve opened this folder, select all and tap the Delete key. Reopen Chrome and you should see the problem immediately rectified.
More Tips for Boosting Chrome’s Performance
If you’re battling general sluggishness, there are a few other recommended tips for increasing the speed and performance of Chrome.
Right-click on the Chrome icon on your Desktop, click Properties and go to the Compatibility tab. Check “Run this program in compatibility mode for” and select your operating system from the dropdown menu.
Alternatively, if this is already checked and you’ve tried other options, you can try unchecking it – sometimes troubleshooting renders interesting results.
Disable Unnecessary Settings
This is optional, but if you want to reduce Chrome’s resource usage and increase its performance, you can disable/uncheck the following settings by typing in chrome://settings in the address bar.
- Enable “Ok Google” to start a voice search
Under “Show advanced settings” > “Privacy”:
- Use a web service to help resolve navigation errors
- Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLs typed in the address bar or the app launcher search box
- Automatically report details of possible security incidents to Google
- Use a web service to help resolve spelling errors
- Automatically send usage statistics and crash reports to Google
- Send a “Do Not Track” request with your browsing traffic
There have been many cases reported where turning off hardware acceleration has helped solved problems such as a lagging mouse cursor or Omnibox. This is also under “Show advanced settings”.
- Use hardware acceleration when available
Manage Your Extensions Better
We all know extensions can weigh down on the overall performance of a browser. Some extensions are more demanding of system resources than others. Go through your installed extensions and apps (chrome://extensions), and see if you have any installed that you really aren’t using or don’t need for your workflow.
What about managing extensions you do need? You may only occasionally use an extension, but disabling and enabling it can be a hassle. An extension called SimpleExtManager allows you to toggle apps and extensions on and off with a single click.
Disable Unnecessary Plugins
You can’t completely uninstall Chrome plugins (chrome://plugins), which is a good thing. You can disable any plugins you deem unnecessary. If you do happen to disable a plugin that you find you do need, such as Adobe Flash Player, just go back and enable it.
How do you know if you need a plugin or not? Click the “Details” box to expand plugin information and read the description. Don’t hesitate to “Google” a plugin you’re unsure about too.
Reach Under The Hood
What’s referred to as “Chrome Experiments” can be accessed by typing chrome://flags in the address bar. We’ve previously elaborated on customizing these special settings.
Clearing Your Browser History
Clearing your browser history can be good and bad. Note that these local files help keep Chrome running quickly so that it doesn’t have to constantly recreate them. However, after a while they can build up and cause adverse effects. So if you are regularly deleting them or have Chrome set to automatically delete these files on closing, stop and disable that.
But if you have never deleted these files and Chrome is still slow after trying other solutions, then go ahead and clear all of these files. Just do this sparingly in the future.
Recently Google released a software removal tool (which is still in beta) to scan and remove software that may be causing problems such as crashing Chrome, unusual startup pages and toolbars and unexpected ads you can’t get rid of.
This tool is currently Windows-only and requires admin privileges. More information on this tool here.
A Completely Different Browsing Experience
For me, what almost caused me to give up on Chrome was its speed. I just couldn’t understand how even after a complete uninstall and cleaning out all associated files, it was still slow. But clearly the folder referenced to in the beginning was never cleared or removed, and the new install of Chrome was still accessing it.
Once I found the solution was deleting all its contents, my Chrome user experience instantly turned around.
Have you had an issue with Chrome that almost made you scrap it altogether? What was it and how did you resolve it? Share your experience in the comments.
UPDATE: I made a mistake when writing this article. Because I already had my Chrome browser synced to my Google account, it didn’t even occur to me to mention that syncing your browser to your account was a step. I’m truly sorry for any headaches this caused when you followed the instructions and realized you deleted all your Chrome preferences. That is huge, I know. Thank you, everyone, for the feedback in the comment section that brought this issue to light.