Google is working on a new "Tab Freeze" feature for Chrome that will pause (freeze) tabs that you do not use. That means lower CPU usage, a faster browser and a longer battery life on a laptop or convertible.
The problem: too many tabs
If you always had only one tab open, Chrome should only render one webpage at a time. But you probably have more. Even if you are not using them, every tab that you have opened in Chrome contains an open web page. That webpage uses system memory. All scripts and other active content on it also remain active, which means that the webpage can use CPU resources in the background.
In some respects this is good: even if you switch tabs, a tab can continue to play audio or update itself in the background. When you switch back to it, you don't have to wait for the webpage to be reloaded ̵
But it can be bad. If you have a large number of open tabs – or even just a small number of tabs with heavy web pages – they can use a lot of system resources, fill up your memory, take CPU cycles, make Chrome less responsive and your battery. That is why the engineers from Chrome have made Tab Discarding and now Tab Freezing. They are related functions, but do different things in different situations.
How removing tabs saves your RAM
Tab removal was added back in 2015. This is a "memory-saving" feature, as Google puts it. In short, if your computer has low memory, Chrome will automatically update the contents of & # 39; uninteresting & # 39; remove tabs & # 39; & # 39 ;. Chrome will not automatically discard a tab if you interact with it, but that background tab that you have not interacted with for hours is a main goal.
When the contents of a tab are discarded, it is deleted from your system's memory, and the status is saved to disk. Nothing changes in Chrome's interface – the tab appears on your tab bar and looks normal. But if you click on it and switch to it, you'll see Chrome take a moment to reload the page quickly and take you back to where you were.
This slight delay is the reason why Chrome only throws the tab away if your system's memory is "Almost empty." It is good to use your RAM for caching. But automatically deleting a tab and quickly reopening it is better than forcing the Chrome user to manually highlight and close tabs.
When a tab is thrown away, the process actually disappears from Chrome & # 39; s built-in Task Manager, and you won't see the memory used by Chrome anymore. When you click it to reload it, it is restarted.
How freezing tabs will save your CPU (and battery)
Freezing tabs differs from discarding. When a tab is frozen, its content remains in your system's memory. However, the contents of the tab will be frozen & # 39; & # 39 ;. The web page on the tab cannot use a CPU or perform actions in the background. Suppose you have opened a heavy webpage somewhere on a tab and that scripts are constantly running. After a while, Chrome will automatically "freeze" it and stop performing actions until you communicate with it again. Those are the basic principles and Google will probably soon explain in more detail how it works.
Freezing tab is an experimental function. It is built into the current stable versions of Chrome 77, but can only be started manually. In Chrome Canary versions of the upcoming Chrome 79, Chrome tabs can freeze automatically, just as they can automatically discard them.
In Chrome Canary, several options are available for freezing tabs if you go to
: // flags and search for & # 39; Tab Freeze & # 39 ;. With this option enabled, Chrome automatically freezes the & # 39; eligible & # 39; tabs after remaining in the background for five minutes. Depending on the option you choose, Chrome can leave them frozen or freeze them every ten minutes for ten seconds – just enough time to sync with a server or do a little work if they need it. Google clearly tests which option is the best.
Although freezing tabs is an experimental function, it will almost certainly come to stable versions of Chrome – in one form or another, at least. The options in Chrome Canary were spotted by TechDows.
How to play with tab freeze (and throw away) Today
With the current stable version of Chrome you can play with both functions if you want to know how they work. Just type
chrome: // discards in the Omnibox of Chrome and press Enter.
You see a diagnostic page with a list of your open tabs and whether they can be frozen or discarded. On the right side of the page you will see action links to "Freeze" and "Delete" each tab.
You can test it to see the difference yourself. For example, if you start YouTube and start playing a video, video playback is paused, but the contents of the YouTube tab are not removed from memory in Task Manager when you press & # 39; Freeze & # 39; click for that tab. If you click on & # 39; Delete & # 39; clicks, video playback will be interrupted and the contents of the tab will be deleted from memory. You will see it disappear when you open the Task Manager from Chrome. If you click on "Load", the contents of the tab are reloaded into memory.
Why removing and freezing are so useful
In other words, if your system's memory becomes full, Chrome removes the tabs that you do not use to free up space. It quietly reloads them when you click on the tab, but you will notice that the page loads for a fraction of a second. It is not necessary for Chrome to throw away tabs while you have enough memory. Chrome uses that memory as a cache instead of leaving it blank. This speeds things up.
But even if you have a lot of memory, Chrome will soon look at still tabs that you have no interaction with to save CPU time and battery power, potentially making Chrome and the other applications on your system more responsive. It still keeps them in memory – that way, when you reactivate a frozen tab by switching to it, the web page on the tab is ready for use as quickly as possible.
If Chrome needs to free up memory, a frozen tab can be discarded. But you cannot freeze a discarded tab: it has already been removed from memory and is not really open, so it cannot perform background actions.
Now that the upcoming version of Microsoft Edge is based on Chromium, Google's work on Chrome will also improve the standard web browser of Windows 10. Expect future versions of Edge to also automatically start freezing tabs.