Why Chrome consumes so much memory when it’s running?


No matter how many other programs I am running, when I open task manager it always seems like Chrome is at 1000 or 2000+ MB of memory usage, whereas everything else barely hits 500MB

In: 32

Basically it uses lots of memory for stability and convenience. For example pre-loading a page it thinks you’ll go to and storing it in memory (convenience) or spinning up a new process for each tab so that if one crashes the others won’t (stability).

These are things the user tends to care about and memory is pretty cheap and abundant. Why economize on memory when it will cost performance on things the user cares about?

There are a few reasons why modern web browsers in general consume so much RAM. The biggest reason is because modern web pages are so robust and complicated. All the interactivity, colorful moving graphics, responsiveness, any add-ons or plug-ins, and everything else that makes a web page useful and engaging requires a lot of resources.

RAM is needed to hold all that information all at once so that you can have a smooth and responsive experience. Couple that with the fact that most people have multiple tabs or windows open means it takes up a lot of RAM.

I think a better way to think about it is that all of the web pages and extensions you have open are taking up a lot of RAM. It’s just that to your operating system, they’re all grouped together as “Chrome”.

Did you know Chrome has its own Task Manager? Find it in the Chrome menu, under “More Tools”. That will show you how much RAM each webpage you’re using has open.

For example, for me, Gmail is using up 285 MB of RAM. That might seem like a lot, but it’s a pretty complex app with lots of features, and it caches a lot of mail so that when you click on it, it loads instantly. That takes RAM.

Others have given great answers, I just wanted to add that Chrome will automatically scale back its RAM usage if other apps start to need it. So you shouldn’t have any negative issues caused by chrome taking up so much RAM!

Short answer is to keep things fast. Modern web pages are incredibly complicated, they are programs in their own right. You know how reference books will have an index at the end that lets you find the page some information you want is on without reading the entire book? Or in a library there’s the Dewey Decimal system that can tell you which shelf a book you want is on? A web page is a program that basically does this. A lot. As in thousands of times a second, particularly when a page first loads. Modern browsers will essentially take a 10mb web page and create an index that is several times the size of the web page to make the page load and do everything it needs to do.

A huge chunk of that memory footprint will be taken up by this index as well as the source code and other things to keep a web page responding to you quickly. Without that memory footprint, it would be like trying to load a modern web page on a 90’s or early 2000’s computer/browser/internet connection.

There are other considerations a well such as security sandboxing and more modern approaches such as single page apps, and they all have a memory cost. Ultimately the idea is that memory is cheap and it’s a waste to not use it if it’s there.