Slow browser? Here’s how to speed up Google Chrome

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In a way, your web browser has become as important as your PC’s operating system (if not more important). Almost everything you do, from email to social media, even editing documents, happens in your browser. You can even stream games directly from a browser window. So if Chrome feels a little sluggish, it can hamper the whole experience. Here are a few things you can do to speed it up.


Check your internet speed

(Picture: Speedtest.com)

Before blaming Chrome for your slowdowns, make sure your internet connection is up to snuff. Run a speed test using Speedtest.net or PCMag’s own checker to see how your connection measures up. If a website is not loading, check Downdetector to see if there is a problem with your connection or if the website is down.

It’s entirely possible that you’re having a problem in your area or you’re on some shitty public network. (Or maybe you just need to pay for faster internet.)


Update to the latest version of Chrome

update chrome

Each new version of Chrome contains new features, security fixes, and often performance improvements. So there is a chance that updating to the latest version can help you fix your speed issues. Even if you don’t, it will protect you from online threats.

Chrome updates automatically, so chances are you’re already using the latest version, provided you’ve recently closed the browser. If you’re behind, Chrome will show a green, yellow, or red update button in the top-right corner of the browser.

This means that an update is waiting for you, so all you have to do is click the Update button or close the browser window and reopen it. It probably won’t make a difference in speed day or night, but it’s a good place to start nonetheless.


Run a malware scan

malwarebytes

Image: Malwarebytes

Before digging into Chrome’s settings, you might want to make sure there’s no malware on your system. Run a scan with the anti-malware tool of your choice and make sure there is nothing suspicious running in the background.

You want to look for anything that inserts additional advertisements into the pages you visit or tracks your online behavior. Malware that does this requires additional resources, which can slow down your browser and computer.


chrome cleaning tool

Once upon a time, Google developed a program called the Chrome Cleanup Tool, which would detect potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), like toolbars and other automatically installed extensions that your antivirus might not be designed to detect.

Google has since integrated it directly into Chrome, and you can run it by going to Settings > Advanced > Reset and clean up > Clean up computer. Run the tool and it will check your computer for any software that might be slowing down your browser.


Uninstall extensions you don’t need

chrome extensions

If you thought this was going to be easy, I have bad news for you: sacrifices have to be made. While the tips above may help some, the best thing you can do to speed up Chrome is to throttle it down. Extensions and tabs are the biggest drain on resources, and the fewer of them you have, the snappier Chrome will feel.

Let’s start with the extensions: you can see which ones consume the most CPU and RAM by pressing Shift + Esc on your keyboard, which will bring up the Chrome Task Manager. Find out which ones hog the most resources and which ones aren’t crucial to your workflow.

Uninstall extensions by right-clicking their icon in the toolbar and selecting Remove from chrome. Or go to chrome://extensions and remove them from there. The more you remove, the more speed boost you’ll get (not to mention improved security, since extensions can be hacked or sold to adware companies).


Close (or unload) tabs you don’t use

chrome tabs

If you’re the type of person who opens 45 tabs and leaves them running for later, odds are your slowdown is because so many sites are open in the background. Chrome can delete tabs if it’s running out of memory, but in my experience it’s not very aggressive about it.

Close any tabs you don’t need (again, Shift + Esc is your friend), and bookmark them for later. You can also grab an extension like Auto Tab Discard, which lets you automate the “unloading” of certain tabs based on different criteria and keep them in your tab bar, which you can then reload as needed.

Yes, I realize the irony of installing an extension when we just told you to uninstall as many as you can, but depending on how many tabs you tend to keep open, the result may still be a net increase in positive velocity for this particular case.


Wipe clean slate

reset chrome settings

If you still can’t get Chrome to cooperate, it might be time to reset the browser to its original defaults – no extensions, custom search engines or other saved settings. To perform a reset, go to Settings > Advanced > Reset and Clean > Restore Factory Defaults > Reset Settings.

This can be a pain, but if you find that Chrome is getting fast again after the reset, you might be able to keep it cleaner and prevent it from building up (or at least figure out which extension or settings slowed things down later ).

Of course, that might not be Chrome’s fault at all — your computer might be a bit long in the tooth. Check out our guide to speeding up your Windows PC to see if any of these tips help. If they don’t, maybe it’s time to bite the bullet and get a new PC.

Disclosure: Speedtest.net and Downdetector are owned by Ookla, which is owned by PCMag publisher Ziff Davis.

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