Google Chrome is a fast browser. In fact, according to the computer benchmark experts at Futuremark, Google Chrome has been the speed king since September 19th 2011. Chrome automatically does lots of tricks to speed up your browser such as using DNS prefetching and the SPDY (“speedy”) protocol instead of HTTP.
DNS prefetching tries to resolve a domain name before you follow a link. In other words, Chrome looks up the IP address in advance so when you click a link you don’t have to wait for the name to resolve. SPDY is an open networking protocol designed with one purpose in life: reduce web page load time. It does this by compressing the request and response overhead messages that besiege HTTP. In addition, it multiplexes requests and responses into a single connection which dramatically reduces wait times.
That being said, Google Chrome still can get slow and when it does, man oh man is it annoying.
There are few things that can make me cranky faster than a stupid web browser that takes ages to load a simple webpage like digg.com or Slashdot.org. Here’s a few things you can do that are guaranteed to boost your browser performance.
1. Turn on GPU compositing
Google has experimental options that can break the browser if you don’t know what you’re doing; however, turning on the GPU compositing experimental option forces the nerve center of your graphics card, known as the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), to accelerate compositing on all web pages, not just those that need it like graphic heavy sites. This will boost your load times by 1 to two 2 seconds.
Open Chrome and enter this in the address bar:
Read the big red warning. Take a deep breath then Scroll down to the GPU compositing on all pages option and change the Default option to Enabled.
2. Disable Plugins
Undoubtedly your copy of Chrome is running plugins that it doesn’t need.
Think of browser plugins like little applications that run in your web browser to enhance your web experience. Common plugins are Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, QuickTime Player, and Silverlight. Each of these application consume memory and because they consume memory there’s less of it to go around for other tasks like watching that 1080p HD Youtube movie your brother sent you.
Open the address bar again and enter:
Since a lot of sites use Flash, you should keep Flash enabled but you can safely disable each of these plug-ins without killing your browser. ‘In the graphic below, you can see I’ve got a lot of plugins enabled that shouldn’t be. For example, do I really need the Windows Live Photo Gallery plugin or the Google Earth Plugin enabled?
As I said earlier, you can disable all your plugins without hurting the browser; however, if you want more information about a plugin before you disable it then you should click the details “plus” icon in the upper right corner of the browser window. It’s right under the star icon in the far right of the location bar.
Viewing details will show you the full description of the plugin and the exact path to plugin file on your hard drive. If you’re still not sure about it, copy and paste the name in Google and you’re bound to find a myriad of results.
3. Disable Extensions
Plugins and Extensions are similar in that they both extend the usability of the browser; the difference between the two is nuanced.
Plugins usually refer to third-party software that span multiple browsers. For example, Adobe Flash is a plugin for Firefox, Chrome, IE, and Opera. Conversely, Extensions are browser specific. They are bits of code that modify the behavior of a specific browser in a specific way. For example, I talked about AdBlock in an earlier post. It bonds with Chrome to block annoying popups. It fundamentally changes the DNA of the browser so that it no longer permits annoying ads to inundate your screen. The difference between plugins is subtle but the point is that you probably have extensions enabled that you should disable.
Open the address bar again and enter:
Then uncheck the extensions you think are slowing down your system. If you decide that you don’t even need it just click the trash icon to get rid of it for good.
4. Clear Cache
Chrome accrues a history of all the web sites you’ve visited. It also saves page elements and all sorts of goodies so that subsequent visits to those pages load faster. Instead of having to request the same stuff twice, Chrome just loads the content from your local system so your browser can whiz the page on the screen faster.
These autosaving features usually work well but as you continue to use Chrome the database can get large, sometimes so large that it slows Chrome to a crawl.
Fortunately this is super easy to fix.
Press Ctrl Shift + Del to open the clear browsing data screen. By default it will attempt to flush your browsing and download history. As well as all cookies, cached plugin data, saved passwords, form fills and App data. It also tries to deauthorize content licenses which means that it will stop Adobe Flash from playing any previously viewed protected content such as purchased movies. You should really only check this if you plan on selling your computer.
Clearing Browsing history purges all the web address you’ve visited, saved text from those pages, snapshots that appear on a new tab and pre-fetched IP addresses.
Wiping the download history just clears download file list not the actual files that reside on your computer. Killing cookies deletes the small text files on your computer that include your preferences and profile information. All the rest are pretty self explanatory. The form fills are the autofill entries and text records in web form fields. For example, if you always sign into the Twitter with username example then Chrome might automatically display that text when you click in the sign-in field. Clearing form fills removes these saved entries.
5. Be incognito
I’ve found that the fastest browsing experiences can often happen in Chrome’s private mode known as Incognito.
Going stealth means that none of your web pages are tracked, downloaded files are forgotten and cookies die when you close the incognito tab; bookmarks remain. Here’s how to load it Press
Ctrl Shift + N
When in doubt just go undercover with Incognito. You can’t go wrong here.
The Bottom Line
Although Google Chrome currently has the crown as the worlds fastest web browser it still gets slow over time. I mean, you can have a 2014 Nissan GTR but if you don’t maintain it then the performance can start to suffer. The goal of my post today was to show you the most effective ways to improve the performance of Google Chrome. As long as you turn on GPU compositing, disable plugins, disable extensions, clear the cache and browse incognito you’ll be fine. I’d be very very surprised if our browser is still slow after doing these things; in fact, I’m so confident that the above tips will fix your slow browser that I dare you to send me a comment to the contrary. This stuff really works; I’ve done it on my version of Chrome and have seen dramatic speed improvements. If you really want to see how fast your browser is run the free Peacekeeper benchmark test.
If your prefer Internet Explorer over Chrome, you can also speed IE9 up too.
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