Regular readers will know that I have been campaigning for a few years now to try to improve Google Chrome.
I changed settings, streamlined the install, installed extensions, removed extensions, and even paid for a service to try to make it more usable.
The results have been mixed, to say the least.
What I needed was something that allowed me to use Google Chrome the way I was already using it – piling a bunch of tabs on it and adding more and more until I decided to declare tabs bankruptcy – without eating the system Resources.
It was like chasing a unicorn.
Then I installed a browser extension called Auto Tab Discard and started testing it. It’s a great plugin because it suspends tabs you’re not using to free up system resources, then resuscitates them when you return to them.
And things got better.
But I was still using Google Chrome quite timidly. I refrained from using it thoroughly.
So for the past four months I’ve gone back to Google Chrome as my daily driver and used it as hard as I can.
This seems to be the only way to know if I made Google Chrome much better or much worse.
Well, with that time under my belt, it’s time for a debrief.
How does Auto Tab Discard work when you really push the browser?
Right now I’m running a few instances of Google Chrome, both with several dozen tabs open. I can see from the modified icon that Auto Tab Discard adds to the tabs that most of them sleep and as such consume the bare minimum of resources.
Despite several dozen open tabs, the system gives the impression that I only have a few open.
But what about the disadvantages?
If you regularly switch to suspended tabs, there is a bit of a lag as they get reanimated. The faster your internet connection, the smoother this resuscitation.
With the tabs I use regularly, one way around this (which avoids having to add extension-specific rules is to pin that specific tab (right-click on the tab and select Pin) so that it is not automatically suspended by the extension.
It is a trade-off between speed and system resources. This extension clearly shows how aggressively Google Chrome is tuned for speed and performance and the amount of system resources needed to accomplish this trick.
When it comes to browser reliability and startup times, I don’t feel Auto Tab Discard had any negative effects. Google Chrome’s startup times and reliability are just as good as without the extension.
So, yes, Auto Tab Discard makes a huge difference in how Google Chrome feels, even under crazy heavy loads. This doesn’t negatively impact startup reliability and performance, but it can create small bottlenecks if you continually switch between suspended tabs (but you can easily work around this).
So, I strongly recommend all Google Chrome users – power users or not – to give it a try. It’s free, easy to install and uninstall, and from my testing, it’s almost every advantage, with only a few slight disadvantages.
To download Automatic removal of tabs for free on the Chrome Web Store for Google Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers.