With regards to my past experiences, I can surely say that almost nothing can worsen my day than a slow-moving browser, or even a corrupted one that freezes and shuts down when it pleases. Considering the fact that I daily need tens of tabs open to do my job, a nice, speedy companion is a must. As for those who are struggling with their experience, I must advise that most likely, there are too many extensions installed, or one of them has gone south. Today, we’re going to show you how to actually identify if an add-on is slowing down the browser and if so, which.

Our goal will be to set a smooth browsing experience, one that is enhanced by the technological advances made by these add-ons, at the best of your computer’s capability. As a quick reminder, all of these extensions consume hardware resources, such as RAM, CPU cycles and even network band. Be it Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, the late Internet Explorer or other browsers, they all feed from the main pipe.

browsing speed

Check which Add-on is slowing Chrome Browser

There are several ways to check what particular extension is causing troubles to your browser, and depending on the browser used the results will vary. For instance, in Google Chrome, the platform itself treats each extension as a separate process, and in a Windows-like manner all of these processes can be viewed with a Task Manager application, embedded in the browser itself. To access this, you simply have to press the main menu button (that three-lined icon located in the upper-right corner) then go to More Tools and finally, chose the Task Manager.

chrome-task-manager

Above, you have a simple screenshot of what a casual Task Manager window for Chrome looks like. In here, you can analyze for yourself which extension is actually feeding on more resources than others and, if decided, you can manually select it and then click the low-corner button to end it. Of course, if you see here something out of the ordinary, you could even go and uninstall that particular extension.

A simple test to actually see an improvement in Chrome’s reaction speed would be to take the biggest consumer from the list above and disable it. To do so, you could simply go back to that Menu icon and click on Settings. Now, in the left-hand column, you should go to Extensions, and then just untick the one in question. This will make it appear as grayed-out.

disable extensions

Another trick would be to start Google Chrome without any extensions enabled. There isn’t a user friendly way to do so, but bear with us as it won’t be so tricky. This sort of Safe Mode can be enabled by doing the following:

  1. Right-click the Chrome icon and go to Properties.
  2. Now select the Shortcut tab (if it’s not already selected) and in the Target field, simply add “–no-extensions” or “–disable-extensions” after the chrome.exe field (be sure to also leave a space before). It should look like this:
    chrome safe mode
  3. Now close all running Chrome processes and use the newly-edited shortcut to open the browser. If performance is significantly faster, than it’s surely a problem with an extension.

P.S: You could also use incognito mode for that, by right clicking the Chrome Icon in the Task Bar and choosing New Incognito Mode (or CTRL+SHIFT+N while the browser is opened).

What about Mozilla Firefox?

Well, we haven’t forgotten about you folks. While in Chrome, developers have implemented a simple way to see each process separately, in Firefox things are a bit more complicated. The best solution would be to actually install another add-on that will show how much resources the other ones are consuming (a bit awkward, I know). Now, after you install it, you have to open a new Tab in Firefox and simply write about:addons-memory as the address. This will open the interface of the newly added software, which looks like this:

addons-memory

Now, the first thing that you might observe is the actual memory usage declared by Firefox, in the first row of the screen. This may be well less that the amount reported by the browser into the classic task manager of the operating system, but please indulge this slight error of the plugin. What we are interested in here is the percentage used by Add-ons, from the total memory cached in by the browser. For instance, see that more than half of the memory is consumed by add-ons and after that, which add-on exactly is taking up more space than other.

Based on this analysis, we can manually disable or uninstall those that have jumped the gun. To do so, open a new tab by typing about:addons in the address bar, and here simply click on the Extensions menu, found in the left-hand column. Now find the extension in question and choose to Disable or Remove it, after your liking.

For those who do not trust the extension installed above, the most basic way to actually check if a Firefox add-on is slowing down the browser would be to actually disable all of them, restart the browser and see if performance improves. If so, manually activate the extensions, one-by-one, followed by a swift restart, until you can actually identify the one that’s causing problems. It’s not easy, I know, but in some cases it can still be the best option.

disable extensions

A simpler way to perform this ‘no add-on test run’ would be to restart Firefox without any add-ons enabled. To do so, tap on the menu button located in the upper-right corner, then open the Help Menu by clicking the question mark icon located in the bottom part. Here, chose to restart with ad-ons disabled, and confirm the choice, like above. If you notice that performance is still similar, than this may not be an extension problem, and you will have to continue troubleshooting through Safe Mode (keep pressing Shift and click the Firefox button to open Safe Mode, which disables add-ons,  hardware acceleration and other bits and bobs).

Internet Explorer

Just like the song, Internet Explorer may have 99 problems, and add-ons could be one. For those that still use Internet Explorer….get out of the cave (I’m kidding). Like Firefox, debugging is a bit harder, but users can actually take advantage of the Navigation time and Load time fields, displayed for each add-on. To put it briefly, IE actually measures how long each extension takes to load, and by analyzing this time you could anticipate which add-on is creating troubles. Also, the Navigation time shows how much of a delay each extension introduces, whenever you open a new tab.

internet explorer addon

To access these fields, you’ll have to click the gear menu in Internet Explorer and select Manage Add-ons. A menu like above will appear, where the Load Time or Navigation Time columns can be seen.

Another idea would be to launch Internet Explorer with all add-ons disabled. To do so, Windows 7 users would have to go to Start -> All Programs -> System Tools  and click on the Internet Explorer (No Add-ons) shortcut. On Windows 8 or 10, you’ll have to press the Windows Key and R simultaneously, and then type  iexplore.exe -extoff in the box.

Hope you found this guide useful. Do share your comments and tips if any in the comment section below.

PHOTO CREDITS: nyugat.hu

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Feature Writer

Alex holds an engineering degree in Telecommunications and has been covering technology as a writer since 2009. Customization is his middle name and he doesn’t like to own stock model gadgets. When he’s away from the keyboard, simpler things like hiking, mountain climbing and having a cold drink make his day.