When Google’s Chrome web browser first hit the streets, it quickly earned a reputation as one of the speediest browsers around. But as it continued to gain market share over the years, it also earned a well-deserved reputation as a memory hog and a resource-intensive application that would shorten your laptop’s battery life.
Now Google says it’s taking aim at both issues. The company says the latest version of Chrome for desktop operating systems includes optional features that will reduce the browser’s impact on memory usage and battery life.
That’s not to say that Chrome will use fewer resources moving forward by default. You’ll need to enable the optional new features.
Google says its new Memory Saver mode can free up RAM by dropping data from background browser tabs from active memory. This allows the websites you’re actually looking at to run smoothly while reducing memory usage by up to 30 percent.
That could free up memory that could be used by other apps on your computer. And when you go back to the browser tabs that had been inactive, they’ll reload when you need them.
I can think of a few reasons you might not want to use this feature. First, it might not take a few seconds for inactive browser tabs to load when they become active. And second, if you have unsaved data in one of those tabs (like a blog post, or items added to a shopping card for an online store you are not logged into), I’d be worried that you might lose some data when the tab reloads.
But if you regularly notice Chrome’s memory usage causing problems on your computer, it’s nice to have an option to reduce the memory footprint. And Chrome does allow you to designate certain websites that won’t be affected by Memory Saver. So if you know which sites are likely to cause problems if they reload unexpectedly, you can put those on a block list.
Memory Saver can be enabled or disabled from Chrome’s settings.
Chrome’s new Energy Saver mode kicks in automatically when you’re using a battery-powered computer (like a laptop or tablet) and the battery level drops to 20 percent.
At that point, Chrome will “save battery by limiting background activity and visual effects for websites with animations and videos.”
But if you’d rather get the full web experience until your battery dies, you can disable Energy Saver from your browser settings.