Google is testing memory reducing Tab Freeze functionality in Chrome
Google is testing a new memory reducing feature in the company's Chrome web browser currently that freezes background tabs to reduce memory consumption of the web browser.
Chrome is the most popular desktop browser currently; while it is doing really well in many fields, e.g. performance or web compatibility, it lacks when it comes to resource usage. Mileage may vary depending on use but generally speaking, it is not the lightest of browsers out there.
Google introduced numerous features and changes in Chrome designed to reduce the browser's memory usage. The company introduced a tab discarding option in 2015 that acts automatically when system memory runs low. Chrome users may run extensions like Tabs Limiter to reduce memory use, or enable the process-per-site feature which does so as well.
Mozilla wanted to implement a tab discarding feature on low memory in Firefox as well but postponed the launch of the feature because of implementation flaws.
Chrome's new Tab Freeze option sounds very similar to the tab discarding option that Google introduced in 2015.
Enables freezing eligible tabs when they have been backgrounded for 5 minutes.
In fact, Tab Freeze sounds like an improved version of Tab Discard, the feature that is built-into Chrome already. The core difference between both memory reducing methods is the trigger. Tab Discard is used when system memory runs low whereas Tab Freeze is used if a tab has been in the background for at least 5 minutes.
In other words: Tab Freeze will be run regardless of how many system memory is available and used.
Google is testing the feature currently in Chrome 79 (currently Canary channel). Users need to enable the option on the browser's experimental flags page to make use of it. Here is how that is done.
- Load chrome://flags in the browser's address bar.
- Search for Tab Freeze using the search bar at the top.
- Set the flag to one of the following values:
- Enabled Freeze -- No Unfreeze
- Enabled Freeze -- Unfreeze 10 seconds every 15 minutes.
To enable the feature, pick one of the available "Enabled" options. Chrome will freeze background tabs after 5 minutes of being in the background if you pick any of the enabled options. No Unfreeze keeps the tabs unloaded whereas the unfreeze option will recover them for 10 seconds every 15 minutes.
Chrome maintains a list of discarded tabs on the chrome://discards page. Just load it in the browser's address bar to get a list of tabs that are not loaded in the browser at the time of access.
Tab Freeze may be a useful option for users of Chrome who run the browser in low-memory environments. The feature discards tabs automatically to free up memory. One downside to this is that the content of the tab needs to be loaded again when it is selected in the browser. Still, Tab Freeze may make the browser more usable on devices with low memory.
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