Chrome 45 curbs the browser's voracious memory appetite, puts Flash on a leash

Chrome 45 is a good step forward for Chrome users who are driven nuts by the amount of memory the browser takes up.

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Longtime Chrome users are well aware of the stupid amount of system memory the browser can use up, especially when you’ve got numerous tabs open. Now, Google says it’s cleaning up Chrome’s act to make it a little more memory friendly, as well as introducing a long-touted feature to save on battery life.

Chrome has added two new features that work behind the scenes to ensure the browser isn’t gobbling up memory whole-hog. The first is how Chrome restores tabs after a reboot of the browser. This is especially important if you have the browser set to open your most recently used webpages or to open a specific set of pages every time.

The recently released Chrome 45 will now restore your most recently viewed tabs first. The browser uses this as a signal to figure out which tabs are most important to you and are likely to be needed first.

Chrome will also detect if all this tab restoration is taking up too many resources. If it is, tabs ranked of lower importance will cease to load, but you can still restore them manually with a click.

Why this matters: In our recent look at the top browsers of 2015, Chrome came out the clear winner. However, there’s no question it takes up a lot of system resources to deliver the best browsing experience possible. Chrome wasn’t the worst of the bunch (that was Edge), but Chrome was still a memory monster. Any improvement in that situation will be a welcome addition for most users.

Take out the trash

Chrome also has a new process to detect when a webpage is no longer busy loading data. Once that happens, Chrome uses the downtime to clean out unused memory—a process known as garbage collection. Google says this can reduce memory usage for a single website by up to 10 percent. Complex web apps like Gmail can see a 25 percent reduction compared to previous versions of Chrome.

As for battery life, Google says its previously announced auto-pause feature for non-essential Flash videos is rolling out to Chrome users now. If you don’t see the new feature yet it should arrive in your browser over the next few weeks.

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