Loading Or Crawling? Pinpoint The Extensions Slowing Your Browser

Kihara Kimachia 08-08-2014

Has your browser slowed to a crawl recently? Having too many extensions running is usually the cause. The more extensions you have running, the more memory your browser needs. If you find your browser experience agonizingly slow, you need to disable or uninstall the extensions using the most memory. But, how do you pinpoint extensions that are using up the most memory?


Getting this information is different in each browser. We will analyze how to do this in three of the most popular browsers; Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.


So let’s begin with Google Chrome. Unlike most other browsers, Chrome is pretty good at helping you figure out which extensions and apps are hogging memory. All the tools you need for memory usage analysis are built right into the browser. The Chrome Task Manager is as old as Chrome itself but is possibly the least used feature. To access it, click the Menu button (also seen as the three lines menu button), scroll down and hover on More Tools, and select Task manager. Alternatively, use the shortcut Ctrl +Esc to access the task manager directly.


You should see six columns and the first two columns have the information you need; the name of the extension, tab or background process in the first column and the memory usage in the second column. The next thing you need to do is take a hard look at the extensions using up the most memory and disable the ones that you rarely use. Click on Memory to sort by memory usage.

To disable an extension in Chrome, click the Menu button, scroll down and hover on Tools and select Extensions. In the new tab, locate the extension and uncheck the “enable” box. Do this with all the extensions you want to disable. You can also completely remove an extension from Chrome by clicking on the bin icon.


Chrome also has another feature that shows you a detailed page of how much memory each of the extensions and tabs are using. In the address bar, type in chrome://memory-redirect and press enter.


You will notice that this page shows you the memory usage for all running browsers, not just Chrome.


The process of checking memory usage of add-ons in Firefox may sound absurd. You need to install an add-on to find out which add-ons are hogging memory. Yes, I know it sounds silly but unfortunately, Firefox doesn’t have a tool built right into the browser. Before installing the add-on, it is advisable to first confirm if add-ons are responsible for memory problems. According to MozillaZine Knowledge Base, there are several other issues that may be at play if you notice increased memory usage.


To see if add-ons are responsible for memory problems, first restart Firefox in safe-mode. Do not confuse this with restarting your computer in safe-mode How To Start In Windows Safe Mode & Its Uses The Windows operating system is a complex structure that hosts a lot of processes. As you add and remove hardware and software, problems or conflicts can occur, and in some cases it can become very... Read More . In the current version of Firefox, click on Help on the Menu bar, scroll down and click Restart with Add-ons Disabled.


If after restarting you find a significant reduction in memory usage, then there is a good reason to suspect add-ons are to blame. Install the about:addons-memory extension.



Next, type about:addons-memory in the address bar (no restart necessary) and the memory usage of each add-on is displayed.


To disable an add-on, click on the Menu icon, then click the Add-ons icon to open the Add-ons Manager. Click the Disable button to disable an add-on.

Internet Explorer

Like Firefox, Internet Explorer doesn’t have quick way of displaying the memory usage of each add-on. It does, however, give you detailed information on how long each add-on takes to load. This information has important diagnostic value because an add-on taking longer than the rest to load may indicate that it is the culprit responsible for overall sluggishness.


To get this information, click on the Gear icon in Internet Explorer and select Manage Add-ons. You will see several columns; the load time and navigation time columns tell you how long an extension takes to load and how much delay time an add-on contributes every time you load a new page, respectively. Disable an add-on by selecting it in the list and clicking the Disable button.


What’s Been Hogging Your Memory?

We all love browser extensions because they extend functionality. There are so many extra things that one can do or solve with the help of a browser, it’s just mind blowing. But, with every new extension we pay the price of slower performance through higher resource usage. So, keep your extensions to a bare minimum 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] We all love our browsers, and we all love the extensions that you can install with them. We love browser extensions because they allow us to do what we want our browser to do that... Read More or enable them only when you need them, and no, there isn’t an extension or add-on that can remedy a system bogged down by too many running extensions. From a security standpoint, too many extensions can also expose you to malware. Malware has found its way to the Google Play Store in the past so there is no guarantee that browser extensions can’t be pre-loaded with malware; the fewer the better.

Have you found any browser extensions that hog lots of memory? Please let the community know in the comments below.

Image Credits: stuartpilbrow Via Flickr

Related topics: Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox.

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  1. DonGateley
    August 12, 2014 at 1:03 am

    People who get here because they are having unresponsive script problems, look here:

    This allowed me to fix two such problems I was having and in the process all Firefox sluggishness I'd been living with for a while disappeared and it's now zippity clean.

  2. DonGateley
    August 9, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    If I restart Firefox with add-ons disabled will I then have to manually re-enable those that I had enabled or does a normal restart put me back where I was in that regard?

    • kihara
      August 11, 2014 at 8:34 am

      You have to re-enable the add-ons

  3. Stijn J
    August 8, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    small correction, shortcut in chrome is shift + esc, not ctrl + esc.

  4. Nikolaj Knudsen
    August 8, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    There is no Chrome menu called More Tools, so the Tasl Manager cannot be there. The shortcut for the Task Manager is also wrong. Bad start. I stopped reading...........

    • Shiva
      August 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      The MORE TOOLS option is available in the MENU (looks like 3 bars which is just below the close button at the top right corner)

  5. Mike Merritt
    August 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    High memory usage isn't the total reason to remove/disable an Add-on. Often, even if an Add-on uses much memory, it's utility may make it worthwhile and exceed it's "cost" in memory.
    For example, I use AdBlock Plus which uses 16 Meg of memory - but it's well worth it for the reduction in display ads that it gives.

  6. Swaminathan Venkatesh
    August 8, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Nice article Kihara, very useful. One correction, if I may suggest, keyboard shortcut for Task Manager in Chrome is Shift + Esc & not Ctrl + Esc..

    • Kihara
      August 8, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Yes, quite right, I didn't catch that ...its Shift+Esc. Thanks!