Google Chrome is an essential tool for many of us, but it’s by no means perfect. A slowdown in performance is one of the criticisms often levelled against the browser. If you want to quickly improve the speed of Chrome and the sites you’re visiting without delving too deep into its inner workings, you should find this guide to be extremely useful.
We should mention keeping your version of Chrome up to date, which will give you the best possible performance, and running regular spyware and virus checks on your machine are a great way to get started. For some more advanced performance tweaks, you can also check out Chrome’s hidden flag settings.
1) Cut down on the extensions
This might be an obvious tip, but it’s worth emphasising — particularly because a lot of add-ons may not be visible on the toolbar, and you may have forgotten about them. Most extensions won’t slow down the browser too much, but if you let them pile up they can cause sluggishness and buggy behaviour. Getting rid of ones you no longer need is good for browser security as well as performance.
Go to More tools (found by clicking on the three-bar icon to the right of the URL bar), then Extensions on the Chrome menu to see a full list. Disabling extensions should help a little but uninstalling them is your best bet (you can always put them back again later). Open up the Chrome Task Manager (Shift+Esc on Windows) to see which extensions and apps are hogging CPU time and memory space on your system.
2) Add a small number of useful extensions
This sounds somewhat contradictory, but stick with us. If you install a small number of genuinely useful extensions, they can get Chrome feeling snappier. Take Google’s own Data Saver extension, for instance, which reroutes pages through Google’s servers and compresses the number of 1s and 0s arriving at your browser, resulting in faster load times overall.
Then there are the third-party extensions that try and improve how Chrome deals with dozens of open tabs at once. OneTab, Tab Suspender and The Great Suspender can all cut down on memory usage and visual clutter at the same time, and there are others. You might have to experiment to find the one that gives you the best Chrome speed increase.
3) Cut down on the plug-ins
This one is slightly more nuanced, as disabling plug-ins might break functionality on some sites while also speeding up your browsing experience. It’s a good idea to disable them one by one, if you can, and check that nothing is disastrously broken afterwards. Note that you can’t fully uninstall Chrome plug-ins from the browser, only stop them from running.
Type chrome://plugins into your browser to review what’s installed, and with a little detective work you should be able to work out what’s safe to disable and what isn’t. Blocking some plug-ins can stop videos from autoplaying, for example, and you can generally cut down on the number of processes and tools running in the background.
4) Clear out the cache
There’s some debate over whether clearing the cache can actually speed up your browser. After all, the cache is designed to load pages and elements more quickly, but like many other parts of your system it can become bloated and unwieldy over time, meaning Chrome has to do more work to dig out the cached files and cookies it’s actually after.
From the Chrome Settings tab, choose Show advanced settings and then Clear browsing data. From the dialog that appears, choose cookies and cached files, plus any other bits of data you want to blitz, from the beginning of time. Some sites may load more slowly the next time you visit but as a whole the cache should be much more streamlined than it was.