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Chrome to skip low priority tasks until shutdown to reduce memory use

Google is working on a new memory reducing feature for the company’s Chrome web browser. The new function, called “Skip best effort tasks” landed in Chrome Canary just recently; it is designed to skip certain low priority tasks during runtime to improve memory use of the web browser. The skipped tasks will be executed during shutdown instead, according to the provided description.

Skip best effort tasks is not enabled by default in Chrome Canary. It is available as an experimental flag and a startup parameter; which of the two you use is up to you.

Here is how you enable the flag in Chrome:

  1. Make sure Chrome Canary is up to date.
  2. Load chrome://flags/#disable-best-effort-tasks in the browser’s address bar; doing so should open the right flag.
  3. Set the status of the flag to enabled.
  4. Restart the Chrome browser.

You may also start Chrome with the parameter –disable-best-effort-tasks for the same effect.

chrome skip best effort tasks

You can undo the change at any time by setting the experimental flag to default or disabled, or by removing the startup parameter if you used it.

Chrome informs you that you run an “unsupported command line flag and that stability and security “will suffer” because of that. I did not notice any issues while running Chrome with the flag enabled though; it is possible that the notification is a generic one.

The flag’s description reads:

With this flag on, tasks of the lowest priority will not be executed until shutdown. The queue of low priority tasks can increase memory usage.Also, while it should be possible to use Chrome almost normally with this flag, it is expected that some non-visible operations such as writing user data to disk, cleaning caches, reporting metrics or updating components won’t be performed until shutdown.

The description explains what is happening when you enable the experimental feature. Chrome maintains a queue of low priority tasks by default; the queue may grow over time and that may lead to increased memory usage.

Chrome with the experimental flag enabled won’t execute these low priority tasks during runtime to save memory. The tasks will be executed during shutdown instead; this may lead to a delayed shutdown.

Google mentions Telemetry, disk cache cleaning, writing user data to disk, or updating components as low priority tasks.

The new effort to reduce Chrome’s memory usage is not the only one that came to light recently. Google is working on a feature called Never Slow Mode that aims to limit resource requests by blocking those that exceed certain size restrictions.

Now You: What is the most memory friendly browser currently? (via Chromestory)

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