Multiple Processes of Chrome.exe

Late November prior to mothballing the office and going to Australia, one of the desktops here at design dpi was progressively getting slower and slower, crashing several times a week... even the infamous blue screen of death (BSOD) on rare occasion. It was becoming increasingly painful to work on, next to impossible at times.

When you're working on a number of web design projects simultaneously while also tweaking an A4 2pp 300dpi print design, you need all the computing power at your disposal. Certainly not a machine that freezes for three minutes when switching programmes, or one that leaves mouse trails when opening a new window.

How to diagnose the problem though? When it comes to desktop security here at design dpi we usually run a pretty tight ship. First of all, the machine was completely backed up to an external hard drive, daily work backed up to Google Drive. Anyone whose read the First Blog post already knows about the healthy obsession with keeping backups.

Next task, running a simple virus scan with Kaspersky Anti-Virus. Other than flagging a couple of false positives... nothing? OK, so we try looking for spyware with Malwarebytes, again nothing to raise any concern?

It was becoming maddening, quite obviously there was a problem with the machine but not always, as after a reboot it usually performed like brand new, just never for long. Deciding to see if HijackThis could diagnose anything we painfully go through it's logs but again nothing really jumps out of the entries. Let's try a different virus / spyware scanner, you never know. This time AdAware... same result nothing?

A fresh reboot and without opening any programmes we decide to see what processes are running, Googling those which aren't immediately recognisable... nothing is particularly hogging resources, so we're at a loss!

Losing all hope in finding a solution, it wasn't until finally getting back into the office in the New Year when once again the machine within minutes became painfully unresponsive, just frozen for what seemed an age. Yes, if you were lucky you could use it, we're used to working around these idiosyncrasies now, so give it a moment and you never know we might be able to crack on with the design eventually, or do we finally bite the bullet and buy a new box?

Time to 'try' and open Task Manager again even though still frozen, Ctrl, Alt, Del... we're seriously tired of seeing (Not Responding) messages! Just wanting to take another peek at running processes Task Manager finally springs to life, immediately something doesn't seem right as there were multiple instances of chrome.exe taking up as you may have guessed quite a considerable amount of memory between them. There were twenty three instances of chrome.exe in total, so why so many?

Well after Googling the issue it transpires this machine was not the only one experiencing a similar fate with Google Chrome. Apparently Chrome treats every plug-in, every extension, every open tab as a separate running process! Finally, and unbelievably a solution to what had become a very frustrating problem.

As yet, there is no fix for this issue and by all accounts newer versions of Internet Explorer use this multiple process model also, not that we're worried about that here as the only time IE gets to see the light of day is for testing clients websites for cross browser compatibility, and you don't want an IE compatibility rant from us, that can have it's very own unique blog post! Firefox on the other hand simply bundles all the plug-ins, extensions and tabs into one big process.

So rather than buying a brand new box, or upgrading the memory on the existing one there is a straightforward solution. Google Chrome has it's own built-in task manager. Simply right click the Chrome title bar and there it is. Open the task manager and end the running processes that aren't needed for that session.

Voilà, all removed with the exception of Adblock Plus. Even though we do banner ad design we simply do not do banner ad's in our office.

Here's a screen of Chromes Task Manager, bear in mind this is with just one blank tab and a Google Search tab open... imagine the drain on resources having a half a dozen tabs open!

Multiple Processes of Chrome.exe

Just glad we got to the bottom of the problem, hopefully this blog post can help someone else in a similar situation?.

David Ellicott's squiggle