January 17, 2021
Google announced it’ll fix one of the worst things about running the Chrome browser on...

  • Google announced it’ll fix one of the worst things about running the Chrome browser on Windows 10, the resource drain.
  • Chrome can consume plenty of memory on Windows PCs, impacting the overall performance and leading to crashes.
  • Google confirmed it found a way to allow users to completely shut down Chrome processes and free up memory when the browser slows everything down.

Google Chrome is the world’s most popular browser, and that’s hardly a surprise. It’s fast, features many useful tricks, and supports plenty of useful extensions that can improve the internet surface experience. Chrome is also terribly annoying, to the point where I’ve been looking to ditch it for years. It’s a resource hog and can significantly impact battery life on laptops. As I’m typing these words, my MacBook’s fans have gone into action, a sign that Chrome is consuming way too many resources. These are problems that Google vowed to fix over and over, with the latest such promises coming in just earlier this year. While Chrome can be annoying across operating systems, Google just confirmed that it would fix one of the worst things about running Chrome on Windows 10 computers.

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Chrome can be quite the memory hog in Windows 10 machines, and that can ruin the entire experience, especially on older machines that don’t have that much RAM to spare. The more tabs you open, the more resources Chrome will use, which could slow other apps running on the PC. The Chrome issues could lead to crashes, and that’s also an annoying side-effect that can result in some data loss.

Google explained on its Chromium site (via Tom’s Guide) how it’ll fix the problem. Google will use a Windows 10 feature called TerminateProcess to allow users to recover memory that Chrome used a lot faster and cleaner than before:

Exiting a process cleanly is difficult and expensive. Avoiding race conditions becomes almost impossible with complex software and a clean exit can be quite slow. Waiting on all threads, paging in code and data, and race conditions make it not worthwhile.

We have been gradually moving towards using TerminateProcess for more process types. Although the majority of the shutdown processes tracked by this bug are in utility processes this change uses TerminateProcess for all process types. We should not need to let destructors run so it should be safe to never use exit() (or to make it opt-in).

Closing tabs or the entire browser when the system bogs down might not free up RAM immediately right now. But the Chrome fix that Google announced might prevent that kind of behavior and reduce the number of crashes. TerminateProcess is a Windows feature that tells a program to terminate all processes and threads and immediately free up those resources.

It’s unclear when the fix will be rolled out, however. Google has not offered a timeline, but it’ll hopefully be sooner rather than later. Once implemented, the fix should improve the overall Windows 10 performance by allowing users to manage resources better. Until that happens, it’s a good idea to limit the number of open tabs and restart the PC when it bogs down. A RAM upgrade is also something that could fix Chrome crashes.

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