It's a slow place in Chrome for the holidays
December 11, 2017 2:24 PM   Subscribe

I typically work with 5-10 tabs open in Chrome. (Yes, I really do need them all.) Over the past couple weeks, new pages in tabs have become ridiculously slow to load. Often, pages won't load at all unless I'm on that tab, staring at the blank screen. The background color from the previous tab I looked at carries over to the new tab until the new page loads. Because of the nature of my work, I'm losing money from this. Help?

I work from home on Mechanical Turk, User Testing, and similar sites. If the pages in my tabs don't load quickly enough, someone else gets the job, and I miss out. As I'm sure you can imagine with this type of work, every penny counts.

I've run CCleaner, but it didn't help at all. I've restarted everything, but that didn't help either.

I'm running Chrome on a Windows 10 machine. Spotify streams just fine, as does the Netflix app. Anything in the browser is slow; Pandora stutters, and gives me 10-30 seconds at a time for the first 5 minutes or so of whatever I'm watching.

When I first open Chrome, it takes a good 5 minutes to load. I get to stare at a blank white screen until it gets its act together.

Any suggestions?
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
When was the last time you cleared your browser cache and history?

Click the 3 dot menu button on the right, go to history, click clear browsing data on the left. Then clear everything out from the beginning of time. Then totally fully close out the browser and restart.

I'm first line of defense for tech problems in my office and we all run Chrome. I see this a LOT. Sometimes Chrome just totally shits the bed and lags out, and completely flushing the browsing data brings it back every time.
posted by phunniemee at 2:30 PM on December 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

Also check your extensions/add-ons and a) make sure nothing rogue has showed up in there b) turn off anything not-mission-critical and see if that immediately helps, and if it does turn them on one at a time to see if the culprit is a specific one or a combo of them.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:18 PM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Do you use any extensions? Might be one of them that is behaving badly. I recently noticed Chrome using up a lot of resources and discovered an old extension mining bitcoin in the background(!). Hit the 3 dots > More Tools > Task Manager to see what processes are taking up resources. If you see any process names that look weird google them to see if they're legit.
posted by homesickness at 3:21 PM on December 11, 2017

The current version of Chrome's default behavior is to throttle background tabs. This causes issues for some clients of mine because it messes with the Live Chat dashboard when they're working on other tabs.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:23 PM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

my ccleaner doesn't clear out my chrome browser history so i have to do that separately.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:37 PM on December 11, 2017

This probably isn't a good answer for you, but I've moved over to the new Firefox, and it's blazingly fast.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:58 PM on December 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

The latest Firefox is supposed to be incredibly quick now (I don't use it). Not sure how easy a migration off chrome would be though. Might be worth a try though.
posted by derbs at 4:00 PM on December 11, 2017

Good timing!
posted by derbs at 4:01 PM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

i'll third the new firefox, the developers stress-test it by opening hundreds of tabs. it may also be the case that you've got garbage browser extensions, or malware, or extensions that were once legit but have been replaced by (as someone said) bitcoin miners.

you might also see a benefit just from moving over to a new browser because it will be a fresh install. but i'd give it a shot. it shouldn't be too unfamiliar.
posted by vogon_poet at 4:23 PM on December 11, 2017

Yeah, clean out the browser history *before* you run ccleaner... and check your settings in ccleaner to see if they're cleaning out microsoft edge's history too. I know you're not using it, but that doesn't mean it's not collecting information. Also, you might want to consider running Malwarebytes to see if you have any malware.

Oh, and I had this problem with Chrome too, and it had something to do with Facebook. I can't quite remember the specifics of it, but I cleared out something in Facebook... an advertisement that was looped. I found the solution on Google. Something about Chrome, Windows 10 and Facebook. Good luck.
posted by patheral at 4:26 PM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

My Chrome slowly eats up more and more memory until Task Manager reveals that an open YT page is using 1.4 GB of RAM or something. I just close Chrome and reopen it and that seems to solve things until it runs away again.
posted by xyzzy at 4:39 PM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another Firefox data point - although I was running Chrome on a Mac, so not the same as you - but the Activity Monitor showed it chewing up CPU, so I switched to the latest Firefox, it seems to be smoother. I have way more than 5-10 tabs open. Of course now that I have posted this it will probably barf and collapse.
posted by carter at 5:19 PM on December 11, 2017

My Chrome slowly eats up more and more memory

This happens to me too, most specifically on Twitter and GMail tabs, but that's a slowdown that gets gradually worse; the OP is finding Chrome slow right from the start.

But but: do close Chrome using the three-dot menu's Exit command if it's lagging. Just closing the window isn't necessarily enough, as Chrome allows some processed (extensions? web apps?) to continue to run windowless in the background. I think this may well be what phunniemee means above by "totally fully close out the browser".

(I too am considering switching back to FireFox.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:43 PM on December 11, 2017

When I first open Chrome, it takes a good 5 minutes to load.

Things I have seen do this on Windows boxes, from most frequently encountered to least:

1. Corrupt Chrome profile.

Symptoms: Chrome alone misbehaves in assorted mysterious ways. Other applications are completely unaffected. In particular, Windows boot time is normal.

Cure: quit Chrome, use Windows Explorer to rename C:\Users\goddess\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome to Chrome-renamed, and restart Chrome. If that made no difference and Chrome is still slow, you can restore your old profile by renaming C:\Users\goddess\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome to Chrome-unused, and C:\Users\goddess\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome-renamed back to Chrome.

2. Panda Antivirus losing its mind after a failed automatic upgrade.

Symptoms: everything is grindingly slow and unresponsive. Windows can take up to 10 minutes to go from cold start to desktop; Start menu can take ten seconds or more to open when clicked; application load times blow out to at least a minute each.

Cure: boot in Safe Mode, uninstall Panda Antivirus, reboot. If on Windows 8 or later, enable Windows Defender; on 7, install Microsoft Security Essentials.

3. Bad block(s) on hard disk.

Symptoms: certain operations become grindingly slow. When PC is doing something at a slower rate than usual, pressing an ear to the casing will let you hear the hard drive going tick... tick... tick... until it finally manages to read the bad block in question.

Positive diagnosis: install PassMark DiskCheckup, get the SMART info for the system drive, and look at the Raw value for Current Pending Sectors. If it's nonzero, the drive has at least that many bad (i.e. slow to read or unreadable) blocks.

Cure: Boot the PC into Knoppix and use GNU ddrescue to clone the failing hard drive to a new replacement of at least equivalent size, then replace the failing drive with the clone.
posted by flabdablet at 5:56 PM on December 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

On non-preview: in my instructions above, "quit Chrome" means quit it the way We had a deal, Kyle says, so that all its background processes stop as well.
posted by flabdablet at 5:58 PM on December 11, 2017

I can't quite remember the specifics of it, but I cleared out something in Facebook... an advertisement that was looped.

If you're using a browser to be productive without running a competent advertising blocker extension in it, you're doing it wrong.
posted by flabdablet at 6:02 PM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

The new version of Chrome is even more memory intensive than ever, so if you have limited system RAM, the whole computer will slow down. That would explain some of the slowness but unless you only have 2GB or something think that, it still sounds pretty excessive and you might want to reinstall and recreate your profile.

You can also load the Chrome task manager and see if any one of your sites is especially consuming a lot of resources.
posted by Candleman at 6:47 PM on December 11, 2017

After you've found whatever the primary problem is, and have followed flabdablet's advice to install uBlock Origin, there's an additional product by the same guy called uMatrix which, beyond just blocking advertisements, allows you to tightly control what's allowed to run on a site-by-site basis.

For example, on most sites I shut off javascript, images, CSS—basically everything, so that all the site displays is minimally-formatted text. Hence, even though I'm using a decade-old cheap laptop I can have dozens of tabs open as they each consume very little resources. But I want all the bells and whistles to run on MetaFilter, and I've gotta have my "Dark Mode" theme, so I've got the following configuration set:
* * * block 1st-party cookie allow 1st-party css allow 1st-party image allow 1st-party script allow 1st-party xhr allow css allow image allow script allow css allow cookie allow css allow image allow script allow
But conversely, on Wikipedia I just care about seeing the images in articles: image allow image allow image allow
There's a nice little spreadsheet interface that allows you to pretty much write these rules automatically by clicking buttons. And it's designed to work seamlessly with the ad blocking uBlock Origin does, so they don't interfere with each other.

If at the moment, the browser is taking a long time merely to start up, you've probably got an issue one of these other suggestions will address the bulk of, but once that's done you may be able to squeeze more speed out by fine-tuning exactly what each site you use is allowed to do.
posted by XMLicious at 7:35 PM on December 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I can't help you (not really), but I can jump on your bandwagon. I have had a similar experience with Chrome. It seemed to come on the heels of a major Windows 10 upgrade, and my suspicions lie there. At its worst, I had 10 tabs active, all on different sites, all with that idiotic blue arrow-wheel turning uselessly while nothing loaded. Then, after at least a minute and for no apparent reason, all 10 tabs loaded within seconds of each other. This was becoming a familiar result, and a great enough nuisance that I have since made Firefox my default browser. I uninstalled Chrome completely.

This was about a month ago. Winningly, Windows decided another major upgrade was needed (by "major", I mean it took a long time and many of my defaults were reset). Given that the cage had been well rattled, I decided last week to reinstall Chrome and try again. Sadly, no change. I want Chrome to be my default, as it has been for years, but I am accepting Firefox. You may find it useful to do the same. Still, I blame those devious bastards at Microsoft who continue to think Edge is an option.
posted by cooper green at 8:08 PM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

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