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Browser Slow? How to Make Google Chrome Fast Again

Have you noticed your usually speedy Google Chrome browser slowing down, or even crashing on you? Unnecessary plugins, extensions, and even browsing data can slow your browser down to a crawl, or make it crash. Here’s how to fix it.

In this article, we’ll show you how to disable plugins and extensions and clear browsing data to speed up Chrome and prevent it from crashing on you.

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Disable Plugins

By default, when you install Google Chrome, many unnecessary plugins are installed and enabled. Plugins help Chrome process special types of content, such as Flash, Java, Silverlight, or Windows Media files, but most of them aren’t even important to your daily browsing. Plugins can slow down the performance of Chrome, but you can disable plugins you are not using. To do this, type “about:plugins” (without the quotes) in the address bar of Chrome and press Enter.

NOTE: You can safely disable every single plugin, but you may want to keep Flash enabled, as a lot of sites use Flash to display menus, show videos, etc. Also, if you watch Netflix in Chrome, you need to keep the Silverlight plugin enabled. You can always enable a plugin again if you need to.

01_entering_about_plugins_in_address_bar

A list of installed plugins displays on the current tab. Scroll through the list and click the Disable link for each plugin you feel you don’t need.

NOTE: Plugins cannot be deleted or uninstalled, only disabled. An exception would be a plugin that was installed as part of an extension and you uninstall the extension. Then, the plugin is automatically removed.

02_disabling_a_plugin

Disabled plugins turn gray in the list, and the Disable link for each disabled plugin becomes an Enable link, allowing you to enable the plugin again, if desired.

03_enabling_a_plugin

Disable Extensions

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Extensions are small programs available in the Chrome Web Store that add extra features and functionality to Chrome. They can be very useful, but if you end up with a lot of extensions installed, the browser’s speed may be negatively affected. You can easily disable extensions without uninstalling them to gain some speed.

Some extensions install a button on Chrome’s address bar, and those can be quickly removed (Uninstalled) by right-clicking on them and choosing Uninstall from the menu.

04_extensions_on_toolbar

You can also install apps in Chrome, that are accessible on the New Tab page. These can also be disabled.

05_games_on_new_tab_page

To access your list of installed extensions and apps, click the wrench icon on the toolbar and select Tools -> Extensions from the drop-down menu. You can uninstall extensions with buttons without accessing this list, but you might be surprised that some extensions are in the list that don’t have a button.

06_opening_extensions_list

To disable an extension, click the Enabled check box to the right of the extension’s title in the list so there is no check mark in the box.

07_disabling_an_extension

The Enabled check box becomes an Enable check box, allowing you to re-enable the extension at any time.

NOTE: You can also easily remove any extensions or apps you don’t want anymore by clicking the trash can icon to the right of the Enabled check box.

08_remove_from_chrome_link

Notice that there are a lot less extensions on our toolbar now.

09_less_extensions_on_toolbar

Clear Browsing Data

As you browse the web, Chrome’s history database collects URLs and cached texts for websites you’ve visited, your download history, cookies, and other website and plugin data. While the point of the history and cache database are to speed up your computer by caching things locally instead of having to download every time, sometimes the history database can become very large and may slow down Chrome.

NOTE: You shouldn’t clear your history regularly for speed purposes, as that defeats the purpose of a local cache. You can certainly clear it for privacy reasons though, or if you are having an issue with a particular site.

There are several ways to clear your browsing history, including clearing your entire history and clearing the history for specific sites.

Clear Your Entire Browsing History

To clear your entire browsing history, click the wrench icon on the toolbar and select Tools -> Clear browsing data from the drop-down menu.

NOTE: Clearing your entire browsing history prevents matches from displaying when you start typing URLs in the address bar.

10_selecting_clear_browsing_data

In the Clear browsing data dialog, select the items you want to clear and select a time range from the drop-down list. Click Clear browsing data to clear the selected data.

11_clear_browsing_data_dialog

When the Clear browsing data dialog closes, the Settings tab opens. To close it, click the red X button on the tab.

12_closing_settings_dialog

Clear Specific Items from Your Browsing History

If you want to delete the history for only specific webpages, click the wrench icon on the toolbar and select History from the drop-down menu.

13_selecting_history

Move your mouse over a webpage you want to remove from the history list and select the check box that displays. Once you have selected all the webpages you want to remove, click Remove selected items.

14_removing_selected_items

A confirmation dialog box displays. Click OK if you are sure you want to remove the webpages from the history list.

15_delete_history_confirmation

To close the History tab, click the red X button on the tab.

16_closing_history_tab

Clear Your Browsing History from the New Tab Page

The New Tab page displays thumbnails for the websites you visit most (depending on the version of Chrome you are using). You can clear your browsing history by removing these thumbnails from the New Tab page.

To remove a webpage from the New Tab page, move your mouse over the thumbnail for the site and click the X that displays in the upper, right corner of the thumbnail.

NOTE: You can reset the New Tab page to blank thumbnails by clearing your entire browsing history, as mentioned earlier.

17_removing_site_from_new_tab_page

You can also remove a thumbnail from the New Tab page, by dragging it to the Remove from Chrome trash can, which only displays once you start dragging a thumbnail.

18_dragging_site_to_remove_from_chrome

Run the Google Software Removal Tool

Google just launched a new tool that will help you clean up your Chrome browser from anything that is interfering with normal operation. This can include malware and spyware that infects your Chrome installation and makes things much slower than it should.

All you need to do is navigate to www.google.com/chrome/srt/ and click the Download now button.

When it restarts it’ll ask you to reset your browser, which can be really helpful in preventing crashes and other problems.

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Scan for Malware and Spyware

Unlike your antivirus software, which will usually happily allow spyware to take over your computer, an anti-malware solution will actually find, remove, and block spyware that invades your browser.

How does this apply to a Chrome speed problem? Because a lot of the spyware causes instability in your browser, which then causes other problems.

We recommend scanning with Malwarebytes and using that to remove all of the problems. It’s completely free to use, although they do have a paid version with more features like real-time blocking of spyware.

Using it couldn’t be more easy — download, install, scan, and then click the Apply Actions button to remove all of the malware. Just like vacuuming inside of your couch cushions, you’ll be shocked at how much nonsense you’ll find.

Image by cindy47452

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 01/10/15
  • Michael Tunnell

    You can also disable Google Chrome. Chrome is not slow because of something the user did or from just normal collection of temp files. Chrome is slow because it is a bloated piece of garbage.

    Firefox is the most resource friendly while also being the most feature-full.

    Open 15 tabs in Firefox then open the same 15 tabs in Chrome . . . Chrome will be using at minimum twice as much resources to accomplish the same freaking thing.

    If you don't have a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, just don't use Chrome.

  • Lowell Heddings

    Your hatred of Chrome aside, it does get slow when people load it up with garbage extensions and plugins.

  • Michael Tunnell

    I am not saying that you are wrong about that, I am saying that those are not fundamental problems. Chrome is fundamentally broken because of how much resources it uses. I have benchmarked most browsers and Chrome is the worst. In fact, Chrome users more resources than Adobe Photoshop and even Adobe Premiere . . . that is so absurd that it should sound like an exaggeration, but it is not one.

    I admit I am not a fan of Chrome, for many reasons but none of them are reflected in my comment about the resource usage, that is just fact of the browser not opinion based preference.

  • Lowell Heddings

    Chrome uses a lot more RAM if you have it, but that doesn't mean it is slower.

    Most benchmarks consistently put Chrome ahead of Firefox, if only by a little bit. http://www.pcworld.com/article/2605933/browser-comparison-how-the-five-leaders-stack-up-in-speed-ease-of-use-and-more.html

    Also, it isn't a bad thing that your RAM is in use.

    I could be wrong, but it seems to me that your hatred of Chrome has a lot more to do with your passionate Linux open source fandom than anything else. If Chrome was the browser backed by Mozilla instead of Google, I bet you would be defending it.

    Edit: I am talking about Chrome on the desktop. On mobile, Chrome is awful. I only use Mobile Safari.

  • Lowell Heddings

    Another thing worth noting is that AdBlock on Chrome dramatically increases the resource and CPU usage since it has to load for every single tab, and it is a bloated extension to begin with.

    Personally I don't use AdBlock and I just disable all plugins including Flash.

  • Michael Tunnell

    There are many instances where Chrome will take more resources than it should and thus slowing down the rest of the computer. This is a very big problem.

    Chrome does load pages slightly faster than Firefox does, I don't deny that. However once you try to do multiple things with a average or below average computer Chrome takes up so much resources that you can barely do anything else.

    I never said it was...I am saying Chrome shouldn't be dominating the usage. I shouldn't have to close Chrome in order to use other programs. If Chrome gave me an option of how much RAM it should use then I would have less to complain about. I don't mean everyone should see the option, just putting it in the Advanced Settings would be plenty.

    No, my hatred of Chrome is exactly what I stated. It is incredibly bloated while at the same time people consistently claim it is lightweight based purely on the minimal design of the UI. I am not saying this site has done such a thing but it is very common to happen.

    Chrome is bloated and it uses a ton more resources than it needs. If it was twice as much resources than Firefox then sure fine not that big of a deal but I have tested it on various different machines and when it sees that it can use 12GB of RAM it will . . . that is freaking insane for a browser to use that much, regardless of it being available or not. If you have two programs that act the way Chrome does then your resources will be gone in minutes.

    No, it has nothing to do with it. I am not Anti-Google by any stretch. I am Anti-Chrome. I defend Firefox yes but I am also a user of Google's Android, Google Apps for Business, and more. Google is not Apple. I have nothing nice to say about Apple but I have plenty of nice things to say about Google.

    I too was talking about on the Desktop. I use Firefox on Mobile as well but at times I also use Dolphin. Chrome on mobile is a joke, a very bad and dark disturbing joke.

    I agree.

    I also do not use any adblockers and I also disable plugins I don't need. However, I do it more often as a way to know which sites are ran by "d-bags". Ads everywhere and popups in my face, that sort of thing. I refuse to go to sites that have those types of things.

    I come here because you don't do that kind of thing. Ads are just fine and even useful at times when done in moderation.

  • Lowell Heddings

    Fair enough. Always appreciate the in depth discussion smile

  • ReadandShare

    Good article! Makes sense to me that the more extensions, plug in's, toolbars, etc. -- the more resources and thus the more time required to do things.

    But as a long-time, avid user of Adblock, my experience is just the opposite of what I read above. Blocking out ads, I find webpages load noticeably faster. I would give up almost any other extension before I give up Adblock. Adblock Plus is good too.

  • Lowell Heddings

    I am just saying, if you uninstall AdBlock and do a browser resource test compared to having it enabled, the RAM and CPU required for Chrome are dramatically different.

    Maybe there is an article idea here. Although as an ad supported website I guess readers would have to take it with a grain of salt. smile

  • Michael Tunnell

    I find webpages load noticeably faster.

    We are not talking about how fast or slow a website loads, we are actually talking about resource usage as in the amount of RAM utilized by a program.

    Always appreciate the in depth discussion

    I'm sure you do. smile

    Actually I just realized something about my hatred for Chrome. I will hate Chrome a lot less when they finish removing all of the WebKit dependent garbage from Blink. Even with the bloated browser I will be much happier as a Web Designer not having to deal with that WebKit awfulness. wink

  • Jim

    When I was using Chrome I switched over to uBlock from Adblock and Adblock Plus.

  • Jim

    The article may want to mention to gain access to any installed Apps in Chrome, at least in the x64 version on Windows 7, I had to click on the APPs toolbar icon over on the far left of the bookmark toolbar. The new tab page simply showed the most visited pages and there was no link at the bottom of the new tab page to switch to Apps.

  • Lowell Heddings

    Do you see better resource usage out of uBlock than Adblock?

  • Michael Tunnell

    Also @pcguy have you ever used AdBlock Edge? If so same question as above.

  • Lowell Heddings

    I have long wished for a mythical product called "Ethical Adblock", which blocks only the really obnoxious ads (popups, those double-line link popovers, interstitials, auto-playing video, etc), and leaves the rest of everything alone.

    Google Adsense really isn't very intrusive, and honestly Adsense loads faster than 99% of websites do.

    That way it would be fair to the publishers, like myself, that need to pay the salaries of the writers that create the articles that people are reading.

    I know that Adblock and Adblock Plus both have some sort of program where publishers can pay to have their ads not be blocked, or something like that, but it's basically a mafia-like "protection" tactic that I refuse to be a part of.

  • Jim

    I did for the time I was using uBlock. I switched back to Firefox 2 months after using Chrome for 2 years. Chrome was being sluggish and using 1GB more memory. I had already followed most of the steps in this article regarding pairing down extensions and plugins. Google Chrome also imposes lack of customization of the interface that is offered by Firefox. I especially missed the customization and versatility offered by TabMix Plus extension in Firefox.

    I always want to open the tabs I last had in the last session. In the past I used Chrome's "Continue Where You Left off" option to reopen the previously used tabs. However Google decided probably over a year ago that when you used this option then Chrome would no longer delete session only cookies in Chrome (i.e. where u specifically told Gmail or Yahoo email not to keep you logged in) when a session ended.

    This means that if I used the "Continue Where You Left Off" option to allow easy restoration of the previous session tabs that I would automatically be logged into Gmail and Yahoo mail even though I had specially told those sites not to keep me logged in. Google refused to have a subopton in this setting to prevent the saving of session only cookies. There was a hidden option that was able to work around that until Google also did away with that.

    I finally just got fed up with Google's we know best what our end users want attitude and went back to Firefox on all our computers here in the office.

  • Michael Tunnell

    I agree with that as well. I still wouldn't use it solely because it would not allow me to know who the evil people are but in general it would be fantastic for those who have issues with those types of ads.

    Understandable, welcome back to the good team. smile

  • Tom Wilson

    Wouldn't that be nice? The only reason I started using Adblock was because I don't like all the semi-pornographic dating services ads showing up in Facebook... I have a little girl, and I don't want her thinking daddy is sitting there, looking at pictures of women's butts. I also had to start using it at work, because some web sites were display ads served from Facebook's servers, and so I'd trigger the content protection filters serveral times a day. The security admin finally came over to ask what I was doing, and my answer was "I'm just reading tech blogs!"

  • Experiences sure do vary. I routinely have 40 tabs open on my 2GB Chromebook and then key-combo over to Ubuntu running Chrome browser (via genius of Crouton). I have the Steam client installed on the Ubuntu side.

    Anyway, I key-combo back to the Chrome OS side and pick up right where I left off. Whiz-bang slick in my experience.

  • Acer C720 with a 128GB SSD. My next Chromebook will have 4GB for sure but this one with its Haswell processor and 2GB RAM is perfectly adequate for running LibreOffice, GIMP, Steam, etc on the Ubuntu side.

  • Truthfully, I've not tried that yet. I'm typing this from a Linux Mint machine and don't have access to my Chromebook right now.

  • JohnD Lord

    Press Ctrl+Shift+Delete which opens a menu in the browser.

    Obliterate the information in any or all of the following items :>

    Browsing history

    Download history

    Cookies and other site and plug-in data

    Cached images and files

    Passwords

    Autofill form data

    Hosted app data

  • JohnD Lord

    Why is Malwarebytes the flavor of the year on many tech sites when it did not remove Ask, Conduit and other toolbars when I, and thousands of people used it, plus no reply was forthcoming when their support dept. did not reply to anyone who complained about the problem.Since then I continue to use Emsisoft, a far better and more honorable product than MWB, and I am seeing more tech sites recommending Emsisoft, add that the response from their support techs are extremely helpful and promt.

  • Tom Wilson

    Because the Ask toolbar is technically not malware. It (usually) goes away when you use the uninstaller...

  • Lowell Heddings

    "technically".

    Realistically it is bundled with all sorts of stuff in ways that don't give the user adequate notice, which makes it non-malware distributed in a similar way to malware.

  • Tom Wilson

    Don't get me wrong... I kill the Ask toolbar with fire when I find it. However, I can see the reason an anti-malware vendor would choose not to forcibly remove it.

    This does raise an interesting question: what is malware, specifically? To me, malware is software that harms you or your computer. While the Ask toolbar may generally be as unwanted as your parents chaperoning your high school prom, it doesn't normally cause any harm. It requires permission to install, it doesn't really do much when not in use, and it can be removed without any special effort. I'm thinking that anti-malware vendors do have a responsibility to legit software vendors, to not flag them unfairly.

    While I'm not saying that this is necessary the correct choice, I do see their reasoning, and I can see why some anti-malware vendors would not include this class of software.

  • Daniel Yang

    Except cached images and files. Deleting those could actually make webpages load slower.

  • Tom Wilson

    Yeah... anyone who says to delete your cache to improve performance doesn't understand what a cache is for.

  • Tom Wilson

    It shouldn't... in fact, clearing the cache does the opposite of helping. It forces your browser to re-download images and static content for sites you visit regularly.

    The whole point of a browser cache is that it saves local copies of web sites you visit, especially things like pictures, which can take anywhere from a few KB to a few megabytes on a page. When your browser loads a web page, the first thing it does is look for local versions of the content on the page, and the browser only grabs new versions if the server version has changed.

    So basically, clearing the cache, forces your browser to start all over and download pictures again from web sites, just like the first time you visit. While it's not a big deal for those of us on 20Mb+ connections, it's a much bigger issue for people on DSL, wireless broadband, or even (ugh) dialup.

  • Chariblaze

    Maybe on an older version of Chrome, but doesn't Netflix use HTML5 now for streaming in Chrome? Unless you meant Firefox?

    You could probably keep Silverlight safely disabled in that case, though Amazon Instant Video does have a pretty nice Silverlight player (they'll default you to a not-as-good Flash player otherwise, so even then, it's not the end of the world).

    Also, about disabling extensions: I have a ton of extensions installed, but the majority are always disabled for performance reasons. Instead of having to navigate to the chrome://extensions page every time I want to use one, I use an extension manager that sits in my toolbar, drops down a list of my extensions when clicked, and then lets me enable/disable extensions with one click. I've been using Extensity, which is pretty nice, though it doesn't let you disable apps. There's also Extensions Manager, which is a bit too complicated for me, and SimpleExtManager, which I've just switched to. It has app disabling/enabling, and puts all of your enabled extensions at the top of the list for easy disabling.

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