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. 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.
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 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