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Chrome's memory usage and some ways to check it.
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Jeffrey Crist's profile photoPasi Ääpälä's profile photo
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I've been a Windows 7 Tech User for many years now running IE, Firefox, and now Chrome the last couple of years.  Starting about 8-10 months ago, I started noticing I was getting more more frequent low memory warnings.  I had 4GB physical RAM.  So I upgraded to 6GB.  Being a "Power User" I have done all the tips and tweaks to maximize Win 7 performance and minimize memory usage including disabling unnecessary "Bloat"  Startup Programs and Services.  
The additional 2GB of memory helped somewhat but now that four months have gone by, the low memory usage warnings seemed to have increased again.  So I decided to do some research.  One thing I found out is that there are many more processes running attributed to Chrome than there are tabs open.  This is for all the extensions and plug-ins, which I believe I have an average amount.

The other thing is that Chrome is a multi-process browser, different than other browsers.  You can read all about it here:

http://dev.chromium.org/memory-usage-backgrounder

While each person's PC config and usage patterns are different, I believe I am seeing a pattern that is indicative of a larger spread issue.  Considering 4GB is probably about average for your average (non Power) user, I think that there may be many Chrome users out there that are or are about to start experiencing issues with memory usage.  This is evident from these many articles and posts just from the past 10 months:

Chrome uses way more memory than Firefox, Opera or Internet ...
http://www.ghacks.net/2012/06/21/chrome-uses-way-more-memory-than-firefox-opera-or-internet-explorer/

Google Chrome's Ridiculous Memory Usage
https://productforums.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/chrome/5xKEJs9M98g

Chrome memory hog
https://productforums.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/chrome/9A8IprS2aKU

Google Chrome Running Too Many Processes
http://www.online-tech-tips.com/google-softwaretips/google-chrome-running-too-many-processes/

Chrome uses way more memory than Firefox
http://newsblog.wti.com/index.php/2012/06/chrome-uses-way-more-memory-than-firefox-opera-or-internet-explorer/

Chrome memory usage is horrible
http://www.overclock.net/t/1258931/chromes-memory-usage

Major Chrome Memory Leak
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2001870

Google Chrome Memory Leak Discovered
http://thepileof.blogspot.com/2012/01/google-chrome-memory-leak-discovered.html

Keeping en eye on Chrome's Memory Usage
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/australia/keeping-an-eye-on-chromes-memory-usage/1467

I won't go into SUPER detailed memory dumps and analysis, but will say in general, the biggest culprit relative to the other Chrome related processes is the tabs.  It appears websites using a lot of javascript and/or FLASH (especially lots of ads typically) can easily consume 200+ MB of memory per tab.  If you have 5 of those websites open, that can be 1GB in tabs alone, and many people have more than 5 tabs open.  I typically have 8-12 tabs opens.  My extensions are: Google Global, Last.fm Scrobbler, LastPass, Mozbar, SearchPreview, and Xmarks.  Probably more than your average users, probably average for a "Power User."  

It is not uncommon for me to see Chrome taking up a total of 2GB and at times 3GB.  A recent session where Chrome was using 1.7GB broke down something like this:

13 extensions - 130MB.
GPU Process - 92MB
Flash Plugin - 115MB
LastPass Plugin - 92MB
Browser - 212MB
10 tabs - 640MB (this is lower than want I usually see for 10 tabs)

So I, like many others out there, are wondering what is REALLY going on here?  I think there are several possibilities or a combination thereof:

a) The information written in the memory backgrounder article under "Helping The Operating System" is referring to functionality that never really worked well, or, in some recent versions of Chrome has become broken.  A lot of times, half my tabs aren't used all day yet I see no memory usage decrease.

b) More and more websites are becoming FLASH and javascript heavy (especially with more ads) causing the memory usage for each tab on average to have gone up over the past 12-18 months.

c) There's a bug in Chrome of some kind causing memory leaks.

We can all guess at the reason, but without some very detailed, careful testing, we may not know unless Google can confirm one way or the other.

For now, it seems the only solution is to a) keeps tabs open to a minimum, b) switch browsers, or c) buy more memory
 
+Jeffrey Crist Excellent comment!

I've disabled flash/java by default and haven't got issues with memory consumption. I have to admit though that when I have to use some flash-based tools, there are increase in memory usage. I've been linux user for all that time when I've used chrome, so I don't have experience with Windows and it.

Other thing I've noticed is that flash-based applications, tools and sites have increased during past few years. More and more I have to use some kind of crappy plug-in based on flash/java.
 
+Jeffrey Crist And by the way, you should post that comment as individual post, so others might also read it!
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