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Google Chrome Extensions Causing Significant Slowdowns in Browsing Speed

Image Source: BigTunaOnline / Shutterstock

Extensions are add-ons that provide extra functionalities to web browsers, but they can sometimes impact the performance negatively. A recent study focusing on the top 5000 Chrome extensions has revealed that these additional features can considerably slow down the browsing speed, with the exception of content blockers.

Researchers at Debugbear conducted a study to measure the effects of Chrome extensions on performance indicators such as CPU processing and website loading times. Here are some key findings from their research:

  • Some extensions were found to increase processing time by 500ms or more even on basic websites.
  • 86% of the tested extensions showed minimal impact on simple websites.
  • About 1.7% of the extensions caused a processing time increase of 500ms or more on basic websites.
  • Processing time could spike up to 2000ms on complex websites.
  • The slowdown could be exacerbated when multiple extensions are active simultaneously.

Notable extensions that caused significant delays include Honey Automatic Coupons, Klarna Pay Later, Monica – Your AI Copilot, among others. However, content blockers like uBlock Origin, ScriptSafe, and Privacy Badger were exceptions as they actually reduced processing time on websites.

Impact on Website Loading Time

Chrome extensions could also prolong website loading times, especially if they kick in during the page load process instead of after the content is displayed. The study found that:

  • Extensions could increase the loading time of simple websites by up to 1000ms.
  • Extensions might cause delays in user interactions after the page has loaded, with most extensions only adding delays of less than 50ms.

These delays could result in noticeable lag times as users have to wait longer for the website content to show up.

Content Blockers Enhance User Experience

Content blockers significantly improve CPU processing and website loading speed, particularly on websites filled with ads. They tend to:

  • Decrease processing time from over 50 seconds to just a few seconds.
  • Reduce page sizes from over 40MB to less than 5MB.
  • Lower memory consumption.

While blockers like uBlock Origin and ScriptSafe performed well, others like AdBlock Plus struggled due to features such as acceptable ads that could be disabled to boost performance.

Additional Discoveries

The study also delved into storage usage and impacts on browser functionality, revealing that 86.6% of Chrome extensions utilized less than 10MB of storage. However, some extensions like LastPass Password Manager and Avast Online Security, which consumed more than 50MB, disrupted the back/forward cache functionality.

Image Source: BigTunaOnline / Shutterstock

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