Feeling slow? These extensions may be bogging Chrome down, says report

A photo of the Google Chrome app tile appearing in the dock of a MacBook Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Google Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world. As of April 2024, it had over 65% of the global market share, per Statcounter. That also means that there are many extensions built on top of Chrome to ease the user experience. However, some of those extensions may be slowing the browser down.

A recent report from the development team at DebugBear analyzed 5,000 extensions to see how they affected the Chrome browser. Based on the findings, a number of extensions are power hogs and may be slowing down websites. It all depends on how the extension processes data and what kind of websites are being visited. 

As an example, the Honey Automatic Coupons and Capital One Shopping apps don't do much on news sites. However, when visiting something like Ikea, those extensions start running. It makes sense, but it does cause a slowdown. Honey added 1.5 seconds of processing time when on the Ikea homepage. Airline rewards programs like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines shopping tended to have performance impacts as well. 

It may not be surprising, but with the rise of AI tools, AI extensions popped up in the top 15 processor-heavy extensions in many of the tests. 

Individually, all of these extensions might not slow a website's responsiveness, but what happens if multiple intensive extensions run at the same time? DebugBear’s tests don’t seem to explore what happens when multiple extensions slow things down at once.

Interestingly, some of the slowdown can be explained by when an extension runs its code. For comparison, the Merlin AI extension doesn’t start running code until after a web page has been displayed. So, it doesn’t delay the website's load time. Since it is processor-heavy, it might cause delays when clicking on things within the page, but the initial load isn’t affected.

The Monica AI extension, on the other hand, starts running code as soon as the page starts loading, adding “1.3 seconds of processing time,” which reduces page load speeds.

For the end-user, you can’t fix the extension; that’s up to developers. Beyond uninstalling offending extensions, you can restrict them to only run on certain websites or to only run when you click on the extension icon, though.

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Scott Younker
West Coast Reporter

Scott Younker is the West Coast Reporter at Tom’s Guide. He covers all the lastest tech news. He’s been involved in tech since 2011 at various outlets and is on an ongoing hunt to build the easiest to use home media system. When not writing about the latest devices, you are more than welcome to discuss board games or disc golf with him.