Let me give you some good advice today: don’t install too many Chrome extensions, they’re eating up your memory!
I’m a Mac user, proud owner of a Macbook Pro, early 2011 (vintage), running Yosemite (I might upgrade to the newest OS).
Very often, after one or two hours using my computer, my device’s fans start running like crazy and my computer slows down, up to a point when sometimes I have to wait 10 seconds before I can keep on working. It’s driving me mad!
A friend told me that I must have too many applications open. So I closed a few (incl. Photoshop, which is using quite a lot of memory). But the fans kept running, faster and faster.
So I checked the Activity Monitor to see which processes were using that much memory. And I saw multiple instances of “Google Chrome Helper”.
I found a few articles mentioning the issue caused by those “helpers”. Like this one, which advises you to install an extension to put unused tabs to sleep, which is smart. Or that one (2014) offering to change the settings of Chrome plugins (that section of the settings has since then been modified).
It didn’t really help, those “Google Chrome Helper” processes kept on running in the background.
So I decided to (force) quit them from the Activity Monitor. And then Chrome started telling me that extensions were crashing, one by one.
I’ve been using for almost 2 years the Alexa and Similarweb extensions to get some basic traffic statistics in a glance. I had also installed Wappalyzer to see which technologies are used by the websites I’m visiting (mostly to see whether they’re using WordPress). But those extensions were the main reasons of those cryptic “Google Chrome Helper” instances in the Activity Monitor.
So I removed all the extensions (except Evernote and the Google Tag Assistant, which I need to check whether Google tags are properly installed, when I create a new website or add a tracking Pixel to a page).
It fixed my problem.
Why are those extensions eating up so much memory? Well, besides giving you the info you need when you need it (websites statistics), Alexa and Similarweb are collecting data each time you visit a page on the internet, which feeds their database and improves the statistics they share (& sell) to all the users.
So basically each user installing the free extension extends the mesh of Alexa / Similarweb data sources.
Here is an excerpt from Similarweb’s data methodology PDF:
So now you know what to do to reduce the load on your Macbook’s memory: don’t install too many Chrome extensions!