Butchering The Google Chrome CPU Hog

This one is going in the tech category and isn’t necessarily focused specifically on social media. But since so many of manage our social media channels via a browser, like Chrome, I’m going to post a solve that might help others out there who are frustrated with their slow PC. Recently, one of my computers has been behaving badly. The fan run constantly, the CPU cycles are running high, and the performance is just…well…horrible.

I spent a considerable amount of time looking for spyware to see if some malicious little software spy had been installed, but came up empty. BTW, if your PC is running slow and you haven’t run a spyware check recently, now would be a good time to do it. Here are links to a couple of tools that offer free trials that will get you going:

MalwareBytes

AdAware

Since I didn’t find any offending malware installed, my next step was to clean my registry in case there were old registry keys that were mispointed or just out of date that would be hurting the performance.  Again, I turned to a free tool. Took 30 minutes, cleaned up quite a few old registry keys, but no luck in calming down my CPU.

CCleaner

The final step I took was to defragment my hard drive. Just to make sure that disk fragmentation wasn’t slowing the computer down. I followed my own advice and used Defragler to clean up my hard drive space. Unfortunately, it didn’t really help speed up my computer, so I had to continue the search.

Since the easy stuff was done, but my CPU was still cycling high, I turned to the Windows Task Manager to see what might be causing the issue. You can open the Task Manager by choosing Ctrl + Shift + Esc. You can see how your CPU(s) are performing by selecting the Performance tab. As you can see from the image below, my CPU cycles are really high…that’s what I’m trying to figure out.

Windows Task Manager Shows That My PC CPU Is Running Hot

The best way to see what is using all those CPU cycles is to switch to the Processes tab and then order the CPU column from highest to lowest by clicking the column header twice. When I did that, I saw something very, very interesting.

Chrome. Multiple instance of Chrome. All consuming a ton of resources.

Wow! Chrome Is Using All My CPU Cycles, Causing My Processor To Work Overtime

Seriously, Chrome? You are running 13 different process that are consuming a TON of resources on my machine? After thinking about this for a couple of minute and Googling for a couple minutes more, I realized that each of the tabs I have open in Chrome are being treated as a separate process, and are consuming their own allocated resources.

There is one word for that…ridiculous.

Yes, I had 11 tabs open in Chrome and that was probably a little on the high side, but for there to be 13 different memory hogs and CPU hogs slowing down my computer…that’s just bad architecture. In fact, take a look at the image above and notice that Firefox is running. I opened the same 11 tabs in Firefox and it’s running a single process using significantly fewer resources than Chrome.

I could ditch Chrome altogether, but I actually like the integration with my phone (a Galaxy S3), so I wanted to find a way to keep Chrome, but have it run more efficiently. The answer {drumroll please} is an extension in the Chrome Store called “The Great Suspender”.

You see, whether you are using those tabs in Chrome, they are still consuming resources. Chrome doesn’t know that when I’m not looking at a tab, I want it to go to sleep and stop consuming resources. So The Great Suspender does just that. It allows you to put a tab (or all the tabs) to sleep so they don’t bog down your computer while you are working on other things.

To install this great extension, just go here:

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

and choose “Add to Chrome”. The extension will install and you’ll see a new toolbar icon that gives you the ability to control your tabs.

The Great Suspender Chrome Extension Puts Your Browser Tabs To Sleep While You're Not Using Them

By choosing “Suspend this tab” you can put the currently active tab to sleep or by selecting “Suspend all tabs”, you can stop Chrome from using all but a bare minimum of your CPU cycles so you can work on a Powerpoint deck, play a game, or work on a cool new infographic in Photoshop. Then, when you want to browse again, either activate the tab you want to use or activate all your tabs.

Want to see the proof? When I suspended all 11 tabs mentioned above, the additional Chrome processes disappeared and look how many cycles it’s using now.

The Great Suspender Chrome Extension Stopped Chrome From Using All My Processor Cycles

Not too shabby. Basically, Chrome CPU cycles were reduced to nothing.

So there you have it. Hopefully, that little tip will help someone else out there who is having issues with Chrome chewing up all their CPU cycles. Sure…you could buy more memory or a faster computer, but why not just nip Chrome in the bud?

Have experience with this or other tips that could help reduce the overhead of running Chrome as your browser? Share them in a comment!

Cheers!

–Sean

  • http://www.stevecassady.com Steve Cassady (@SteveCassady)

    Thanks for the insights. I’ve done the same thing (Other than your fix) since I can get quite a few Chrome windows up and running. Now to add the extension

  • http://wirelesstechthoughts.blogspot.com Jonathan

    Hi Sean, I use Chrome on a MacBook Pro, and I just wanted to let you know that “Suspend this tab” works with Macs. I installed it and suspended a couple of taps, and I saw my available memory increase. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.transcendevelopment.com/web-design-news/ Mike Ramirez

    Not to downplay the plugin, as I’m sure it’s useful…but Chrome runs all the tabs in separate processes in order to prevent an issue with one of the tabs forcing the entire browser to crash (a la Internet Explorer). Notice that your Firefox has a single process taking up over 400k, it most likely doesn’t have as many tabs open as your Chrome window does. So, while Chrome has all those processes, it doesn’t really mean it’s doing anything all that unusual in terms of resource usage. It is nice in my opinion that it does that and thus allows a plugin to free up some of those resources. :)
    I’m a Linux user myself, so I don’t have much trouble with system resources being consumed like that, but I’m gonna try the plugin anyway and see how it does! Thanks!

  • http://www.bestdietsource.com Lee McCaskill

    Thank you so much! I, too, had already gone through those other steps and discovered it was google chrome but I din’t know what to do about it!!! Problem solved. I bet it will save on our bill too as I have been going over budget .

  • geoffrey

    thank you for sharing

  • http://strongcubedfitness.com Thomas S

    “CPU hogs slowing down my computer…that’s just bad architecture”

    You’re wrong.

    The one process per tab paradigm is based on user requirements presented to Google in order to address what has been a very typical (and super annoying!) problem since, basically, the day the browser was invented and somebody other than CERN started creating websites; One poorly designed website causing the browser (and, these days, all of your tabs) to become unresponsive and needing to be “killed”.

    A couple of ways to work around the “problem” you highlight: Stop going to websites with a lot of javascript (not really an option), or don’t open as many tabs at once.

    Or, you could buy a less resource constrained PC or switch to Windows Internet Explorer /Firefox on Windows. Neither of which are all that resource friendly either! Notice how Firefox has 400MB of memory consumed in a single process. Now, imagine if Facebook – which it is prone to do on occasion, deadlocks itself in the Tab it’s running in on Firefox. And all of your other tabs go with it…

    • MikeR

      > One poorly designed website causing the browser (and, these days, all of your tabs) to become unresponsive and needing to be “killed”.

      In that case, Google has failed miserably. Chrome is “unresponsive and needing to be killed” when I open two blank tabs.

      Why can’t Google automate the “suspend this tab”? Chrome can tell which tab(s) are visible. There is no need to run javascript on tabs that are not visible (please don’t tell me that because Chrome is so slow, a user might want to have javascript running on a hidden tab, since they went off to read the news in another tab because they got borrowed waiting for Chrome to respond)

  • http://www.bioscenecleanup.com/Crime_Scene_Clean_Up.html marc

    thanks for the tip as I have noticed a decrease in speed and thought it was just the backup system and or the AVG virus update.

  • http://sunnysidesocialmedia.com Sani

    Thanks for the tip, my computer has been slow as of late. Will definitely give this a try.

  • http://charlestonseo.net/ Brian Richard

    Thanks for sharing this, my computer has been driving me nuts with it slowness.

  • http://findmeonGoogle+ Peter J. Bury

    Sean thanks a lot

    I will try the suggested extension. I did not find or get satisfactory answers on Google Chrome Forum :-( . Yours addresses the issue BUT…

    I still think Chrome should be setup to at the very least end processes related to accounts, sessions, tabs and otherwise which I have SHUT DOWN in order to recuperate resources. Chrome doesn’t. Even if I completely shut down Chrome it takes a bloody while before all the Chrome processes are shut down.

    Peter

  • Cheril

    I noticed that all the extensions use separate processes as well; I had wondered why, with only 2 or 3 tabs open, I had 11 or more chrome.exe processes.

  • MikeR

    Chrome will hog cpu even if you don’t have any malware or other issues.

    Go to chrome://plugins

    disable the plugins one-by-one

    http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chrome/xRflOyvjcHg

  • MikeR

    chrome plugins can be guilty of cpu-hogging.

    chrome://plugins

    disable them all, then enable them as you need them.

    The symptom I had was that chrome worked fine – even with many tabs open – until I played a video in chrome. Once I did that, chrome hogged cpu – regardless of dismissing all the existing tabs and creating new ones (so much for running the tabs in separate processes to protect against cpu-hogging), or even killing all the chrome processes. The only solution was to reboot.

  • http://www.sat-essay.net Rodney Daut

    Sean,

    Thank you for this tip. For months I’ve been having trouble with Chrome slowing down my computer. I would have to close the entire browser and then re-open it. And even then it would sometimes stay slow. The only reason I didn’t quit on Chrome is because I have a Chromebook that I love and I would like to use Chrome on both my PC and my Chromebook. So I did an Internet search and most of the articles told me stuff I already knew such as how to open Chrome’s program manager, close extensions etc. I was at the end of my rope when I read your article. I decided to try just one more thing. So I installed “The Great Suspender” and it seemed to solve everything. I can have multiple tabs open with no problem now. It’s been less than 24 hours but when I got to my computer this morning and instead of having to close Chrome or restart my computer, I was able to start my work right away.

    So thanks so much for writing this article. It’s been a lifesaver!

    • http://www.socmedsean.com Sean R. Nicholson

      Glad to, Rodney! I was frustrated for the longest time with this, as well. Glad it helps others :)

      –Sean

  • Martin Kurzmann

    Pure Gold!

  • James Marshal

    Pro Tip: Next time something slows down your computer, the first thing you should do is open the task manager and check what processes are eating up resources.

    Fragmented file systems and registry problems arent going to slow your system down that much.

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