Preventing Browsers From Hogging Your Resources
A comment before you read this article is in order. When I first started this article, the focus was on Chrome. However, after researching, I found that while Chrome does indeed hog resources, it is not alone. Therefore, the changed title reflects the article below.
If you have ever felt your computer slowing down as you were using it, Chrome might just be one of the causes.
When you open Chrome on your computer it also opens several other processes at the same time. Things like Gmail, Google Docs, each open tab, etc. The problem is that unless instructed otherwise, Chrome will continue to leave those processes open even after you close Chrome.
Checking For Yourself
To see the number of processing running, you need to open Task Manager. You can right-click on your taskbar and select Task Manager, press the [Ctrl+Alt+Del] keys, or use Windows newest combination for one-hand operation [Ctrl+Shift+Esc].
Task Manager opens and displays the Process tab showing all currently running apps. If Chrome has an arrow in front of its name, click on it to see the rest of the processes running. Also, scroll down until you see Chrome.exe in the ”Background” processes. In the image below there are 27 open processes, 16 of which continued running after I closed the Chrome Browser. You may have fewer or more. In the right-hand column, you can see the memory being used by each of those processes, and in some cases that can be considerable.
To see the effect they might have on your system you can use Resource Monitor. While in Task Manager if you click on the Performance tab, it will give you the option of opening the Resource Monitor shown at the bottom of the screen in blue.
Opening the Resource Monitor will give access to five tabs: Overview, CPU, Memory, Desk, and Network
While in the Overview tab, you will see the four animated graphs indicating the usage by each component of the system on the far right of the window. In the white upper panel on the left, click on each instance of Chrome.exe, this will isolate the effect Chrome is having on your system. It will appear as an orange line.
You may have to wait for a while but as the graphs move from right to left, you will start seeing instances of Chrome’s usage. Most notable will be the Disk and Network graphs.
In some cases, Chrome can eat into your resources, and depending on your available resources like a slow bandwidth, or a small or slower hard drive, the impact can be substantial.
Stop Chrome From Running Processes
The fix is surprisingly simple. On the Taskbar, click on the up arrow to display your hidden icons. Click on the Chrome icon and remove the checkmark next to ”Let Google Chrome run in the background”. That is all there is to it. Now when you close Chrome all the background processes will close.
As I mentioned, Chrome is not the only browser that continues to run processes after closing the program. As a matter of fact, Chrome and Edge are easy to fix. Some browsers make it more difficult to modify the running processes and some like Firefox give you additional options. The ability to remove running processes for each browser is listed below with any additional comments that might pertain to background processes.
Edge may sometimes have as many processes open as Chrome but in my experience, they do not hog resources as much as Chrome. Perhaps it is because Edge is already part of the Windows experience but whatever the reason both Edge and Chrome make it very easy to stop the processes from running in the background.
With the browser open, click on the up arrow located to the right of the taskbar. This will show any hidden icons. Click on the Edge or Chrome icons and a small window will open. Remove the checkmark in front of ”Let Google Chrome or (Edge) run in the background”. That is all there is to it.
Brave does not show an icon on the taskbar. To perform essentially the same function, open Settings in Brave. Scroll down to ”Advanced”, click on the down arrow and scroll down to ”System”. Turn off ”Continue running background apps when Brave is closed”.
Firefox handles the number of open processes differently than other browsers. Click on the three dashes to open the menu and select ”Options” and then scroll down to Performance. If there is a checkmark on ”Use recommended performance setting”, uncheck it. This will allow you to see a section called ”Content process limit”. By default, Firefox allows eight processes to run.
Firefox runs all tabs separately as a process so if you have 20 open tabs, you will have at least 20 open processes. The user can change the limit from 1-8 content processes. In my experience, any of these settings have had a minimal effect but if you are running a system with limited resources it may cause a problem. As soon as you close Firefox, all processes close anyway. I recommend using the recommended option.
Opera is a browser of a different color. It opens several processes as soon as it is open and finding a way to stop them is not intuitive. While Opera is open press [Shift+Escape]. The Opera Task Manager will open showing you each process and provide you the ability to kill an open process.
It might seem nice that they give you the option to close a process but I am not a fan of it opening tabs that I did not ask it to. In my instance with no tabs open, it shows two websites open, neither of which I requested. Also, having it hidden with a key combination instead of a feature in settings is just one more step the user must perform.
Depending on your total resources, the effect on your system will vary. As I mentioned, Chrome is not alone in leaving open processes but it does stand out as the biggest abuser. I do not like processes running in the background that I did not request. Particularly those that continue to run after I close the program. Chrome and Edge make it easy to opt-out but neither makes you aware it is happening. The other browsers close all running processes when the browser is closed. I did not try all available browsers but if you do use a different browser, a quick look at Process Monitor will give you a heads up of that browser’s hogging ability. One downside to turning off background apps is that you will have to enter any extension passwords every time you open your browser. In most cases, this would only be a password manager you are running from your browser.