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I've recently had problems with Firefox running very slowly when I have many tabs open; say 20 tabs. My whole system would slow down.

I decided to give Google Chrome a try, and it started out fine. But lately I am finding that it too, slows down my whole system. Looking at Task Manager, chrome.exe is using about 250MB of memory in about 6 different entries in task manager. However, when I shut Chrome down, memory usage is reduced by about 600MB. How can this be?

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(shows drop in memory usage after ending Chrome.)

When my system locks up with Chrome having many tabs open, it takes 10 seconds to load the Start Menu, 10 seconds to expand All Programs, and each folder and subfolder, and 30 seconds for the program to be highlighted under my mouse. It also takes 10 seconds to switch to Notepad.

Why is Chrome appearing to use so much more memory than Task Manager indicates? Why is my pagefile being used when I have around 1.1GB of memory? Can I set Chrome to run in RAM and not in the pagefile? How can 20 tabs use 600MB? That's 30MB per tab.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Thats not a real representation of the amount of memory chrome is using. Most of that is actually shared memory between the processes. In reality chrome takes up considerably less RAM that Task Manager is showing you.

Look at the following article for more information http://blog.chromium.org/2008/09/google-chrome-memory-usage-good-and-bad.html

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Thanks for the link. Interesting read. –  LudoMC Dec 26 '10 at 19:06

Why is Chrome appearing to use so much more memory than Task Manager indicates? Why is my pagefile being used when I have around 1.1GB of memory? Can I set Chrome to run in RAM and not in the pagefile? How can 20 tabs use 600MB? That's 30MB per tab.

Your experience is normal. I have 72 tabs open right now (several projects going at once) and Chrome is taking 2.7 GB of virtual memory (2 GB RAM + 700MB pagefile). That is about 37MB per tab (my worst tab takes 170MB). And I have even disabled the Flash plugin -- otherwise it would be a lot higher.

You should look at Chrome's own task manager, by clicking on the "wrench" icon, Tools->Task Manager. This will be a lot more helpful for you than Windows Task Manager since it will clarify which tabs use the most memory.

By the developers' own admission, Chrome uses more memory than single-process browsers when you have multiple tabs open, because certain program data has to be duplicated for each tab. This is because Chrome starts a new process for each new tab (except when you open a link in a new tab, then it seems to share a process with the tab containing the original link).

This has clear benefits for reliability (since one bad tab won't crash your whole browser), security (less likely that one malicious site can compromise other tabs' data), and performance (your current tab gains priority and can perform faster). In exchange you have to give it extra memory.

Multi-process architecture does have a memory advantage over long sessions: it does a better job freeing memory when you close tabs.

This is the future of web browsing. Since most computing takes place on the web now, web browsers need the same multi-process architecture that provides reliability to traditional operating systems like Windows/Mac/Linux. (IE8 added this feature and I expect other browsers will do so. Firefox puts plugins in their own process, and I think different processes for different tabs is in their roadmap.)

Your system doesn't have a lot of RAM. You only have 1GB but modern systems sold today all have at least 2GB, and most have at least 4GB. It would probably be cheap for you to upgrade to 4GB.

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For Chrome, you have in the menu Tools a "Task Manager". It will show how the memory is used. You have a base amount used by the browser, then another amount for each tab and also for each extension.

At the office, also using Chrome, I uninstalled all fancy but unneeded extensions and try to have a low amount of tabs opened at the same time. Chrome has a separate process for each tab to protect them for bad behavior/crashes of the others, but it comes with an overhead of memory usage. 30MB per tab is also what I experience (with sometimes much more for heavy pages)

As you only have 1GB or RAM, you could perhaps consider extending it if you need to have browsing sessions with a lot of opened tabs at the same time. We unfortunately have nothing for nothing...

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I can browse in Chrome with 40 tabs open on 512 MB + 3 extensions. No more RAM is needed. And the multi-process overhead is mostly shared memory, not separate. –  TheLQ Dec 26 '10 at 15:32
    
Strange as my laptop at the office is using around 800Mo for a few tabs and just one or two extensions. Each tab is taking from 60 to 100MB and this is not for heavy pages. For exemple, this page at this moment is taking 70MB right now. –  LudoMC Dec 26 '10 at 19:03

I'm not a Chrome user, but I can discuss memory usage under Windows XP. You machine has 1 GB of memory (Total physical memory). This is too low IMHO. When you load Windows XP, it usually consumes about 500 MB with no other applications loaded.

Once you load Firefox (or Chrome), it starts requesting memory from Windows. You have relatively little free memory left, so Windows starts swapping stuff out to the page file so that it won't run out of memory.

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As I told someone else, I can browse in Chrome with 40 tabs open on 512 MB RAM + a few extensions. RAM isn't the issue here –  TheLQ Dec 26 '10 at 15:33
    
@TheLQ: What is the issue here? –  Steve Aug 12 '11 at 3:02

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