Q: For the last couple of weeks, my Windows 10 PC has typed very slowly in Microsoft Word, Gmail, Google Docs and Google Sheets. There is sometimes a lag of 30 to 40 seconds before what I’m typing “catches up” and appears on the screen. I mostly use Google’s Chrome browser.

I’ve attached the Windows Task Manager list of “processes” running on the PC. What’s wrong?

Bob Laedtke, Minneapolis

 

A: Your Chrome browser is using more RAM (computer chip) memory than it should be, and that can slow down browser-based online programs such as Gmail, Google Docs and Google Sheets. The more important question is: Why is Chrome doing this?

Chrome uses more memory than other browsers. It was designed that way to insulate simultaneous browser activities, such as Gmail, Google Docs and web browsing, from each other. As a result, a crash in one activity shouldn’t cause you to lose data in another.

But on your PC, Chrome has gone beyond its normal healthy appetite for RAM memory to exhibit suspicious behavior.

Your Task Manager list shows 11 different copies of the Google Chrome browser running (there should be only one copy of the program running; a sub menu should show that the one copy is using half a dozen simultaneous processes to display a single open web page.)

These multiple copies of Chrome are collectively using nearly 700 megabytes of RAM memory.

That’s more than double the amount of RAM that a single copy of Chrome normally uses to display one website. And it’s nearly five times more RAM than is being used by any other single program running on your PC.

This could be caused by several things:

How you use Chrome: If you open a new copy of Chrome every time you want to view a new web page, it could produce the situation you now have: Multiple Chrome programs using a lot of memory and competing for internet access. That’s likely to slow the response time of browser-based software. The better way to view additional web pages is to open them in new tabs in the same copy of Chrome (simultaneously press the Ctrl and “t” keys to open a new tab.)

Too many extensions: Running many individual copies of Chrome is even more harmful if each one uses too many extensions, which are browser add-on programs that produce new features, such as advertisement blocking. You can reduce RAM use by manually turning off or deleting some extensions (see tinyurl.com/yando4ol).

Malicious software: Google recently removed 89 Chrome browser extensions from its online library after discovering they did things such as spy on web browsing and record user keystrokes in an effort to steal credit card numbers and other personal information (see tinyurl.com/y8rb2f8g). If you have downloaded any of those extensions, they could be using a lot of RAM memory.

Google said it that it has disabled the malicious extensions for the 420,000 people who had downloaded them. But if your browser was missed, try deleting the bad extensions with the free security programs Malwarebytes (see tinyurl.com/jsdacdk) or Chrome Cleanup Tool (see tinyurl.com/p4tx5pp).

E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com. Include name, city and telephone number.