Do you use Google’s Chrome browser? Well, you definitely are not alone. The browser’s global market share just keeps on growing and it’s not even close.
During the first half of 2018, it has bumped its market share to over 62 percent of the browser market, beating Safari, Firefox, Microsoft’s Edge and Internet Explorer, and Opera by a wide margin.
People mostly like Chrome because of its speed, multi-platform integration, user-friendliness, third-party extensions, incognito mode and its clean and simplified design. It also has ample privacy and security tools you can employ to protect yourself while browsing the web.
Despite this lead, Google is not resting on its laurels. The company is constantly working on new ways of improving Chrome’s security and usability.
But the question is this – how far are you willing to trade your browser’s performance for security?
Read on and I’ll tell you about this new Chrome security tweak that is something that you might not like.
This feature will slow Chrome down
I’m sure you still remember the massive chip flaws that were revealed earlier this year.
The security issues, known as Meltdown and Spectre, affect virtually every smartphone, tablet, and computer out there. They are considered as the worst bugs found in processors ever and they have fundamentally changed how chips are designed moving forward.
To help protect Chrome users from these attacks, Google has a security feature called Site Isolation.
Introduced in Chrome version 63, this option loads websites with their own separate rendering processes. With this split, data from one website will be completely isolated from another, making it much more difficult for a malicious website to steal your data from other open pages.
Turning on this under-the-hood tweak was meant for more savvy users though since it required digging in through Chrome’s advanced settings.
However, with the upcoming update, Chrome 67, Site Isolation will be on by default for almost everyone (around 99% of users).
This is obviously great for Chrome’s security but unfortunately, it comes with a performance side effect.
According to Google, Site Isolation does create more rendering processes and this can increase Chrome’s memory usage.
Security vs. performance
According to Chrome engineer Charles Reis, “Site Isolation does cause Chrome to create more renderer processes, which comes with performance tradeoffs: on the plus side, each renderer process is smaller, shorter-lived, and has less contention internally, but there is about a 10-13 percent total memory overhead in real workloads due to the larger number of processes.”
Although this change won’t cause apparent changes, this could be bad news for people who are using older computers and operating systems that are stuck with 4GB of RAM or less.
Since Chrome will eat more of your system’s precious memory this time around, there will be inevitable performance hits across the board. It’s one small price Chrome users will have to pay for better security.
The good news is that Google is constantly working to optimize and enhance this feature. Hopefully, with future Chrome updates, the performance effects of Site Isolation will be drastically reduced.
Tip : How to manage memory usage on Chrome
If your Chrome browser is slowing your system down, there are various ways you can check what’s bogging it down. In most cases, open tabs are the culprit. To quickly check which tabs and processes are consuming the most resources, use Chrome’s built-in Task Manager.
Chrome Task Manager
To open Chrome’s Task Manager, click the three vertical buttons in the upper right corner. Then hover your cursor over More Tools.
You’ll see a box open on your computer that shows running processes. Click on CPU found on the menu bar. This will show you processes in order of memory usage. Processes using the most memory will be on top and the list will descend to the lowest.
Image: Chrome’s Task Manager.
If you have an open tab that is using an excessive amount of memory, close that tab. You might have multiple tabs open eating up tons of RAM. The more you close, the faster your computer will operate.
To close a tab or end a process from the Task Manager, simply click on the item. Then click the End process button. This will close that tab and end the process.
Turning on Site Isolation on Android
Android Chrome users will get the same Site Isolation changes in Chrome 68.
While on Chrome 67, Android users can turn on the feature by pasting this into the Chrome address bar: chrome://flags#enable-site-per-process, then click Enable on “Strict Site Isolation.”
For more information about Chrome’s Site Isolation’s memory usage, click here.