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InfoQ Homepage News Chrome Browser Extensions Study Reveals Performance Impact of Popular Extensions

Chrome Browser Extensions Study Reveals Performance Impact of Popular Extensions

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DebugBear recently published the results of a study reviewing the impact of the 1000 most popular Chrome extensions on browser performance and end-user experience. Some extensions may delay the page loading time by up to 4 seconds. Others shorten battery life by causing more than 20 seconds of CPU activity on page load.

Web performance monitoring company DebugBear analyzed the browsing performance implications of using the 1000 most popular Chrome extensions. The impact on browser performance is scored across four criteria: website CPU consumption, background CPU usage, page rendering times, and memory consumption. The performance impact of extensions is measured on a sample of five web pages representative of different content categories: a simple test page; apple.com; toyota.com; and news articles by The Independent and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

DebugBear summarized the finding of its report as follows:

Key findings of the 2021 report:

  • Popular extensions like Honey, Evernote Web Clipper, and Avira Browser Safety can have a significant negative impact on website speed
  • On ad-heavy websites, ad blockers and privacy tools can greatly improve performance

Developers can review interactively online the performance of their favorite extensions:

Chrome Extension Performance Lookup

The full report and its extended results can be read online. DebugBear’s study is limited to the Chrome browser (data collected using Google’s Lighthouse). According to DebugBear’s methodology, results show unthrottled observed metrics rather than simulation results. Simulation results, while useful, are based on hypotheses applied in a controlled environment. Actual performance data, as observed by actual users, often provides a more accurate view of the user experience.

Extensions impact browsing performance as they run extra code to realize their purpose. Some code may run together with the page when the page opens, or at a later time in a background thread. The extra code additionally increases battery and browser memory consumption. While the browser extension performance impact will vary widely with the loaded page, users who installed several extensions may suffer from noticeably degraded performance due to the compounded impact of the extensions.

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