Which browser is best to use if I tend to open a lot of tabs?
This question was answered on May 31, 2017. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
Tabbed browsing changed the way we used the Internet and has become both a blessing and a curse.
If you spend time gathering information from multiple sources while researching anything online, this feature has been a game changer.
Being able to open additional tabs eliminated the need to hit the ‘back’ and ‘forward’ buttons in order to jump from one page to another, but the downside to this convenience is the memory usage.
Every tab you open consumes working memory (aka RAM) which can eventually lead to significant performance issues so keeping the number of open tabs to a minimum is always in your best interest.
There are many variables involved in determining actual memory usage, so the various testing sites that proclaim one browser over another may not be applicable to you unless you use your browser the exact same way they tested them.
If I had to make a general recommendation, Firefox for Windows users and Safari for Mac users seem to have the lowest memory usage based on a compilation of various tests.
Changing Your Behavior
If you can change the way you manage open tabs, you won’t have to consider changing browsers. As convenient as it may be to have a tab open all day with Facebook running in the background, if you can do without it, you can save memory.
Bookmarking your commonly used sites for easy access and remembering that you can quickly reopen recently closed tabs in most browsers by hitting Ctrl-Shft-T should help you feel better about closing idle tabs.
Sniffing Out Memory Hogs
Different web resources will use different amounts of memory, so you if you want to see how much memory a specific site is taking up, most browsers offer a way to do that.
In Chrome, hitting Shift-Esc will open Google’s Task Manager, which lists all of your open tabs along with various details. If you click on the ‘Memory’ heading, it will re-sort your open tabs in order of the largest memory usage.
Internet Explorer provides the information as a pop-up that you have to open on each page by hitting Control-Shift-U (hitting it again will close the pop-up).
Firefox users can install an add-on called Tab Memory Usage (https://goo.gl/DXtBuK) which will display the memory usage of each page in the upper right section of the browser window.
By identifying the memory hogs in your regular rotation, you’ll know which ones to close first if things start to slow down.
If there’s no possibility for you to change your tabbing behavior, then adding more RAM or installing add-ons may be a better solution to allow for lots of tabs.
Chrome users can try The Great Suspender (https://goo.gl/DCj4Gt) which will automatically suspend unused tabs to free up memory.
Both Firefox and Opera users can try Tab Suspender (https://goo.gl/9sDEcs) to accomplish the same thing.
Add-Ons also contribute to memory usage, so avoid installing them if you don’t really need them and disable or get rid of the ones you may have already installed that you don’t use.
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on May 31, 2017