chrome ram hogs pac-man imageGoogle’s Chrome browser these days can be the Pac-Man of apps—with an insatiable appetite for RAM. Talk all you want about e-books in browsers and other goodies. But what about the basics? My Chrome was crashing constantly, and even a Google support staffer hadn’t a complete solution for my HP Pavilion—overwhelmed despite 8GB of RAM.

I’d vaguely heard of the Great Suspender, a Chrome plug-in which tidies things up a bit by dumping tabs that you have not used in X amount of time (yes, you can adjust that value). And there is also OneTab to help you manage in a somewhat different way.

Now LifeHacker, source of the Pac-Man-style image, has served up a super-helpful explanation of the Chrome crash issue, along with advice to deal with Chrome RAM hogs.

Below are two tidbits from LH, and I’d urge my fellow crash victims to read the piece in full for more ideas, then move on to the reader comments.

–Use Chrome’s Task Manager (Shift + Esc within Chrome on a Windows machine, or Windows > Task Manager on a Mac) to find and perhaps slaughter the biggest Chrome-related memory hogs, whether they’re tabs or Chrome plug-ins begging to be uninstalled. Sounds basic. But have you tried it?

–Within Chrome, use Click-to-Play to stop Flash and many other plug-ins from pigging out big on RAM unless you want them to. Go to Settings > Content Settings (perhaps within the Privacy section) and try an option other than Run all plugin content. I chose Detect and Run Important plugin content. Remember, you can reach Settings by selecting that option after clicking on the three lines in the upper right of your screen.

So tell us about your own Chrome experiences, and share your opinions and coping tips via our comments form (now working).

If nothing else, I’m curious what you think Google should do about Chrome’s RAM hogs. Chrome once was rock solid for me. Can’t the geniuses in Mountain Valley come up with a solution so we don’t have to do so much Life Hacking? For example, couldn’t Settings include a one-to-five scale that would let you adjust the memory usage, with certain features enabled or disabled? But for now, at least we have LH’s coping advice. Happy crash-proofing!

Related: How-To-Geek’s explanation of Why It’s Good That Your Computer’s RAM is Full.


  1. Comments from Ronnie:

    I haven’t had toooo many memory issues. The main reason I had to stop using Chrome on my Windows machines (all of them) was because I use XMarks Bookmark manager. Chrome started (within the last couple versions) mutilating them. As soon as it synced, BAM, multiple duplicate folders, empty folders, bookmarks spread out among duplicate folders. I had to literally go to XMarks website and download older versions of my bookmarks to restore them. Then every time I synced it just compounded the problem, duplicating the duplicates. Just my bookmark toolbar went from 5 or 6 items to nearly 40 after a couple days use.

    I spent nearly a week getting them back to the way I had them. If I only use Firefox, XMarks works flawlessly, syncing to any machine with the same XMarks account. So I ended up only using Chrome for specific needs, and totally removing XMarks from all copies of Chrome so it can’t screw them up again.


    Thanks, Ronnie, for your useful observations! Comments are now working, and I hope that others will jump in with their own thoughts on Chrome—especially the memory issue! – David

  2. I didn’t know about the Chrome task manager. That’s handy. I’ve seen lots of people complaining about how often Chrome crashes, but I guess I’m living a charmed life. It’s been working fine for me. Occasionally a Silverlight process will crash, but Silverlight is being phased out of Chrome, so that won’t be a problem much longer.

  3. This has been driving me crazy! I’m one who usually has all of my tabs open all day. When Yahoo added their notification widget, Chrome started to hang terribly, especially my email. I’ve now taken to only have a couple most used tabs open at a time and only check email a couple of times, then close it. Very annoying for my workflow.

    I discovered Chrome’s task manager a couple of weeks ago when I noticed far more Chrome processes running than I had tabs open. Apparently, they spawn a new process for every add-in or widget, which is why the Yahoo notification slowed things considerably.

    I had moved off of Firefox a while back, except for testing (I’m a QA manager), because of memory issues with Flash. I may have to go back to it, at least for email, because of this. I may try Opera as well.

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