Chrome report reveals which extension could be slowing down your browser the most

Chrome extensions are a great way to enhance internet browsing, but some of them may be slowing down your browser. The development team behind DebugBear, a web page optimizing service, analyzed 5,000 extensions to see how they impacted Google Chrome. According to their findings, some can cause longer load times on websites although it depends how data is processed. Certain ones are better than others.

DebugBear states extensions that process data “before a page has rendered will have a much worse impact on user experience.” VPNs seem to be among the worst at this, with some causing a full second of delay. It makes sense why load times would be particularly bad with a VPN as they “route traffic through an intermediary server.” Other extensions that may cause long load times include Trancy AI Subtitles and Klarna Pay Later.

Extensions that run their code “after the page has loaded” can also impact Chrome, but to a seemingly lesser extent. Processing times can result in web page slowdown as the software strains the hardware, but not always. The Monica AI Assistant, for instance, was discovered to add “1.3 seconds of processing time;” however, it actually reduces page load speeds. This is because extensions like Monica run “as soon as the page starts loading.” 

Page interactions

Even if an extension doesn’t create slow load times, it may cause slow page interactions, meaning that clicking around on a website may not feel snappy. Avira Password Manager reportedly adds a “160 millisecond delay when clicking on… random content [headings]”. Granted, 160 milliseconds is less than half a second, but we can’t help but wonder if the delays add up.

Let’s say, for example, you have seven extensions, each individually adding a 160 millisecond delay. Now, imagine if all those delays turn into a big performance drop. That’s an entire second of delay added to a webpage. Is this possible? To be honest, we don’t know as DebugBear doesn’t state whether or not the delay of these tools can accumulate.

What is true is that most ad-blockers can improve your browsing experience. Websites with tons of ads directly cause a slowdown, and without an ad-blocker, DebugBear found the average CPU processing time on ad-heavy websites was 57 seconds. With uBlock Origin installed, the time drops “down to just under 4 seconds,” saving your computer precious power.

uBlock Origin appears to be one of the best ad-blockers you can add to Chrome alongside Malwarebytes and Privacy Badger. AdBlock Plus is one of the worst, as it takes up a lot of processing time – over 40 seconds.

What you can do

So, if you’re a frequent Chrome user experiencing a browser slowdown with extensions installed, there isn't much you can do to remedy the issue. Fixing extensions ultimately falls on the developers who made them. But there are a couple of things you can do to help.

First, the easiest thing you can do is uninstall the offending tool or restrict it to only enable on certain sites. DebugBear also recommends using their Chrome Extension Performance Lookup tool to help you find the best, lightweight extensions for the browser.

Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best ad blockers for 2024. uBlock Origin is the best one, but there are other great options out there.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Haven’t activated Windows 11? Then you might find yourself locked out of some Microsoft Edge browser settings

If you’re running an unactivated version of Windows 11 (or Windows 10), your access to Microsoft Edge’s settings might be restricted in the future. This is already the case when it comes to things like Personalization settings for Windows 11 in an unactivated installation, as well as constant reminders prompting you to activate the OS.

If you don’t mind those constraints and plentiful reminders, you can install and run Windows 11 and Windows 10 without activation for free.

However, it seems like Microsoft has added multiple flags in testing that allow for blocking certain browser capabilities in an Edge preview build – if you’re using Windows 11 (or Windows 10) and it’s unactivated. The three flags in question in Edge spotted by Windows Latest are:

  • msEdgeActivatedStateCheckAndUpdate
  • msEdgeNonActivatedOSTrigger
  • msEdgeLockSettingsInNonActivatedOS

Looking to see the effects of each of these flags being enabled, Windows Latest tried running the Edge Canary test build with one flag enabled at a time. Windows Latest turned on the ‘msEdgeLockSettingsInNonActivatedOS’ flag successfully, which resulted in some of Edge’s settings being locked. Then, when Edge’s settings page was opened, it displayed a banner that stated:

“We notice your Windows is not activated, some customization has been limited.”

Pushing further, Windows Latest explored other parts of Edge settings and also discovered that the ‘When Edge starts’ panel (which allows for configuration of what happens when the browser launches) was blocked due to Windows 11 not being activated.

An unwise move?

This is an interesting strategy that doesn’t entirely make sense to me, because as Windows Latest points out, the policy seemingly only targets Windows – Edge users on Mac devices and mobiles don’t see this kind of interference. That makes me think, well, Microsoft is mulling this move simply because it can, and if you want Windows enough to install it, then you want the OS enough to tolerate measures like this. 

Considering how clearly desperate Microsoft is for more people to use Edge, having instigated multiple instances of aggressively pushing users to make Edge their browser of choice, this strategy is even more puzzling since it could drive people away (having finally gotten what Microsoft wants, apparently!).

If you want to continue using Windows unactivated, you could just switch to Chrome, Firefox, or another of the best web browsers that doesn’t have these restrictions. It’s worth remembering that this development is still in the early testing stages, though, and hopefully won’t make it to the final version rollout – but I wouldn’t put it past Microsoft. 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Windows 11 on ARM gets a major browser – another hint of Microsoft’s big plans for AI PCs

Vivaldi has produced a native version of its popular browser for Arm-based PCs, those who run Windows 11 on Arm will doubtless be pleased to hear.

As is usual for a first step, the initial incarnation of Vivaldi for Arm silicon is in preview, and there are some caveats attached.

More so than usual, because while we can expect a fair bit of flakiness with any pre-release software, in this case, Vivaldi for Arm is an early test version. As Windows Central reports, the developer tells us: “These builds are not yet part of our automated test system and have only been lightly tested on one piece of hardware. Serious issues may exist and should be expected.”

In short, anyone running the Chromium-based browser on an Arm PC at this point is likely to have a wonky experience. But the point is Vivaldi is incoming for Windows on Arm, and shouldn’t be too far off.

That’s good news for its wider availability, bearing in mind that Vivaldi is ranked as one of our best web browsers. It was chosen due to its excellent customization options, being ideal for those who love tinkering with and personalizing their browser.


Analysis: Preparing the ground

It seems that Microsoft is very much preparing the ground for Windows on Arm, to become a real force in the near future. We’ve seen a great deal of hype being built around the incoming Snapdragon X Elite chip (and rumored Plus variants), and for good reason – it’s a CPU that can seemingly make Windows running on Arm a truly viable proposition.

To the point where we’ve already experienced Qualcomm’s reference laptops running Baldur’s Gate 3 at a stable 30 fps with reasonable graphics settings – and remember, this is a game running under emulation (it’s not coded for Arm CPUs).

Neither is the Vivaldi browser currently coded for Arm chips, but this is what the incoming new version of the browser is all about. It’s another hint that Microsoft is getting behind developers to nudge them (and maybe incentivize them somehow) to make native Arm clients, which will run faster than emulation (of course, as they remove the processing overhead involved in emulating an app).

With Vivaldi having deployed an early preview now, we can guess that the final version might be ready for the release of Snapdragon X Elite laptops in June – or certainly a working beta will be. This is when Microsoft’s Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 will be emerging – the consumer versions, that is, which may be ARM-only devices from what we’re hearing on the rumor mill (there may not be any alternatives with Intel CPUs, in other words).

Moreover, other leaks suggest that Windows 11’s big incoming feature, AI Explorer – which is going to be key for AI PCs – might be for Windows on Arm only, at least to begin with. All of this just shows how much Microsoft is getting behind the Arm spin on its desktop OS, so we may see more high-profile pieces of software getting ports going forward, too. Perhaps it's finally time for Windows on Arm to shine?

You might also like…

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

This new AI-powered iPhone browser trumps Safari by searching the web for you

Sick of struggling to find the answers to your search queries in Safari, Chrome, or any of the other best browsers on iOS? A new alternative has just emerged that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to do the searching for you, potentially helping you find accurate results much more quickly.

Called Arc Search, the app is made by The Browser Company of New York, an outfit that has also made the desktop Arc browser that captured headlines in 2023. With Arc Search, the developer has added a bunch of interesting features that could see it supplant your current favorite browser on your iPhone.

First among them is the app’s 'Browse for Me' feature. When you enter a search query, you can view a standard page of results in your search engine of choice, or you can instead tap the Browse for Me button. This uses AI to gather information from six different sources, then builds a custom web page that displays all the key information you need to answer your search query.

This can include useful photos and videos, bullet-pointed text, and more. It’s a clever way to pull in information from a variety of sources and ensure you stand a good chance of getting what you need at the first attempt, without having to endlessly scroll through useless information and unhelpful websites.

Privacy protections

The Arc Search web browser for iOS running on an iPhone, with various search results displayed.

(Image credit: Future)

Arc Search comes with other handy features besides Browse for Me. For instance, you can tell it to block ads, trackers and GDPR cookie banners on all websites. That’s a great way to protect your privacy by default, although it’s not clear if the app actually opts out of cookies on GDPR banners or simply hides them.

Arc Search will also automatically archive inactive tabs after one day, which might come in handy for people who struggle to control their tab overload (such as yours truly). And there’s a reader mode that strips out unnecessary visual elements to give you a more focused experience.

Some of features aren’t available in Browse for Me, though. For instance, you can’t share your custom pages or copy a link to them, nor can you view them in reader mode. Perhaps these tools will come later.

Regardless, Arc Search is an intriguing alternative to the usual suspects when it comes to iOS browsers, and could make its own claim to the best browser title if it continues to add interesting features. If you want to try it out, it’s free to download on the iOS App Store with no subscriptions or in-app purchases to worry about.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Microsoft finally caves and will let some users actually use their preferred browser in Windows 11

When you’re browsing on Windows 11 and click on a link in another part of your computer, say a different app or a news reader, regardless of your selected default browser your link will be opened in Microsoft Edge. That can be incredibly annoying when you’re trying to navigate your computer and have to keep manually copying and pasting links into your preferred browser, but that may be about to change. 

This this is good news for people tired of Microsoft’s pushy habit of trying to force users to use Edge over other preferred web browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox

If you set your default browser to anything aside from Microsoft Edge you should be able to discard Edge and move on, with your choices being respected. 

Bye bye Edge

There are some tools like EdgeDeflector and MSEdgeRedirect that allow users to bypass this and use their chosen browsers. The clear intention was to push Microsoft Edge despite users wanting to use a more popular web browser, but it seems like Microsoft has admitted defeat and has released a new build that will curb this.

According to Ghacks, Build 23531 was released to the Dev Channel recently and will change the forced opening of Microsoft Edge on Windows 11 when you click on website links within the Start menu or Search bar.  Ghacks notes that Microsoft added, “In the European Economic Area (EEA), Windows system components use the default browser to open links”.

Users not in the EEA will have to wait it out to see if Microsoft will extend this ‘courtesy’ to them as well. At the moment, however, it seems like Microsoft is only dropping its pushy behavior because of pressure from lawmakers, not because it's the right thing to do. 

You might also like …

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Bing AI gets some handy new features in Microsoft Edge browser

Microsoft has bolstered the capabilities of its Bing AI in the Edge browser’s side panel with a couple of welcome new features.

As flagged up by Leopeva64, a regular source of Edge leaks and developments on Twitter, there’s now an export button built into the Bing Chat pane in Microsoft’s browser.

See more

Click it and you get the choice of exporting whatever content you’re currently looking at in the chatbot to a Word document, PDF, or text file.

A second change for Edge spotted by Leopeva64 is that the Bing Chat side panel has a new section entitled ‘Mentioned’ which picks out highlights of things that are, well, mentioned by the chatbot.

See more

As you can see in the example provided in Leopeva64’s tweet, selected movies are shown as images (movie posters, in this case) that you can click on to learn more about the film (with the AI pulling info from Wikipedia in this case).


Analysis: Next up – the huge change for browsers

Clearly, it’s good to have the export feature in the Edge side panel. If you’ve found something particularly interesting, it’s great to have the ability to export it as some kind of document file with a couple of clicks.

Microsoft actually announced that this feature was inbound at the start of May (in one of those many Bing blog posts which are crafted on a weekly basis), so it has taken a little while for it to go live.

The new ‘Mentioned’ box has arrived more out of the blue, but again, it’s a useful addition to have and provides a jumping-off point for deeper exploration into related materials from any particular query.

Bing is steadily being built out in all kinds of directions, then, but in terms of the browser experience, the biggest change is going to be the introduction of the chatbot to browsers outside of Edge. That should be happening soon enough, going by chatter from sources at Microsoft, so you’ll be able to use the Bing AI in Chrome, for example, without having to resort to an unofficial (and clunky) extension.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Google Chrome’s new customization tools make the browser a lot more fun

If you've been finding Google Chrome a gray, uninspiring place to be lately, then the browser's new customization tools make it much easier to give it a much-needed lick of paint.

In the latest version of Chrome on desktop, Google has added a new side panel that lets you try out a bunch of new uplifting colors, themes and settings. While many of these options were previously available in Chrome, these new ones are easier to use and actually let you see the changes you're making in real-time.

If you don't have automatic updates turned on, you can update to the latest version by going to the three dots in the top right-hand corner of the toolbar then going to Help > About Google Chrome.

Once you're updated, how do you find Chrome's customization tools? Open a new tab and you'll see a 'Customize Chrome' icon in the bottom right-hand corner. Click that and it'll open up the new sidebar. The main section to fiddle with is the 'Appearance' section at the top.

A video showing where to find the Google Chrome customization settings

(Image credit: Google)

This lets you change two big things – the overall color scheme of your Chrome browser and the background image, which you can set to change everyday. Click on 'Change theme' and you'll see a range of default background options from a selection of artists, or some more subtle ones like 'geometric shapes' if those are too distracting.

If you can't decide on one, then just toggle the 'refresh daily' option within each collection and Chrome will cycle through them. Alongside these themes, you can also pick a background color for your toolbar and tabs, thanks to the grid further down. 

There are 15 default colors to choose from, though you can go super-granular with the eyedropper tool, which lets you enter your own RGB values (just in case you were wondering, the TechRadar logo is R:47, G:110, B:145).

Bigger changes under the hood

Chrome's revamped customization tools are a nice little quality-of-life upgrade for regular users – even if it isn't quite as dramatic as the new AI-powered Opera One browser, which has a built-in chatbot called Aria.

Google has so far been reticent to take that step, preferring to keep its Google Bard chatbot as a separate “experiment” that you open in a browser window. But Bard will soon start appearing more prominently in Google's products, including Chrome and Pixel phones (where the chatbot is rumored to be getting its own widget). 

A video showing how to change the color of your Chrome browser

(Image credit: Google)

Google is also separately making some big changes underneath Chrome's hood, with its plans to turn off third-party cookies moving forwards at a glacial pace. So while Microsoft Edge is now arguably a better browser than Chrome, Google is slowly reinventing its browser under the hood.

If you're looking to customize and tweak Google Chrome even more to go with your new themes, remember that the best Chrome extensions are also a fine way to add new features like tabs that automatically close when they've inactive – as long as you watch out for malicious extensions that can steal your Gmail messages and more.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Opera launch Crypto Browser Project on iOS

After releasing its Crypto Browser Project on Windows, Mac and Android back in January, Opera has now launched a version of its cryptocurrency-focused browser on iOS.

For those unfamiliar, the company’s new browser is based around cryptocurrency and will provide users with an easier way to browse decentralized apps (dApps), games and metaverse platforms for a more seamless cross-platform experience. 

Share your thoughts on Cybersecurity and get a free copy of the Hacker’s Manual 2022. Help us find how businesses are preparing for the post-Covid world and the implications of these activities on their cybersecurity plans. Enter your email at the end of this survey to get the bookazine, worth $ 10.99/£10.99.

Opera’s Crypto Browser Project also features a news and data aggregator named “Crypto Corner”, a bespoke start page with live crypto information and updates, crypto asset prices and gas fees as well as crypto events, airdrops and even podcasts.

While Web3 is gaining momentum on the developer side with 34k developers joining the space in 2021 alone, the Web3-experience for users is still far from intuitive and is not optimized for iPhone users.

For these reasons, Opera has decided to add support for iOS to its Crypto Browser which is a dedicated Web3 browser with a built-in non-custodial crypto wallet.

Opera Crypto Browser on iOS 

In addition to giving users access to Web3 and dApps, Opera’s Crypto Browser on iOS also includes cryptocurrency mining protection that can block any ‘cryptojacking’ scripts that could compromise a user’s iPhone and decrease its performance.

The browser on iOS even features the ability to restore any Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatible  crypto wallet with the native Opera Wallet so that users can integrate their existing assets and balances into their Crypto Browser setup.

At the same time, Opera’s Crypto Browser is designed to address crypto’s growing pains with support for more efficient and environmentally-friendly PoS and Layer 2 chains which enable cheaper transactions and consume far less energy than Proof-of-Work (PoW) Blockchains. As such, the company has partnered with Polygon and will be integrating more PoS chains in its browser going forward.

EVP of mobile at Opera, Joregne Arnesen provided further insight in a press release on how the company’s Crypto Browser makes Web3 more accessible for users, saying:

“The interest in Web3 is continuing to grow. The Opera Crypto Browser Project was built to simplify the Web3 user experience that has often been bewildering for mainstream users. Opera believes Web3 has to be easy to use in order to reach its full potential and a mass adoption.”

iOS users interested in cryptocurrency or checking out Web3 and dApps for themselves can now download Opera’s Crypto Browser from Apple’s App Store.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Opera launch Crypto Browser Project on iOS

After releasing its Crypto Browser Project on Windows, Mac and Android back in January, Opera has now launched a version of its cryptocurrency-focused browser on iOS.

For those unfamiliar, the company’s new browser is based around cryptocurrency and will provide users with an easier way to browse decentralized apps (dApps), games and metaverse platforms for a more seamless cross-platform experience. 

Share your thoughts on Cybersecurity and get a free copy of the Hacker’s Manual 2022. Help us find how businesses are preparing for the post-Covid world and the implications of these activities on their cybersecurity plans. Enter your email at the end of this survey to get the bookazine, worth $ 10.99/£10.99.

Opera’s Crypto Browser Project also features a news and data aggregator named “Crypto Corner”, a bespoke start page with live crypto information and updates, crypto asset prices and gas fees as well as crypto events, airdrops and even podcasts.

While Web3 is gaining momentum on the developer side with 34k developers joining the space in 2021 alone, the Web3-experience for users is still far from intuitive and is not optimized for iPhone users.

For these reasons, Opera has decided to add support for iOS to its Crypto Browser which is a dedicated Web3 browser with a built-in non-custodial crypto wallet.

Opera Crypto Browser on iOS 

In addition to giving users access to Web3 and dApps, Opera’s Crypto Browser on iOS also includes cryptocurrency mining protection that can block any ‘cryptojacking’ scripts that could compromise a user’s iPhone and decrease its performance.

The browser on iOS even features the ability to restore any Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatible  crypto wallet with the native Opera Wallet so that users can integrate their existing assets and balances into their Crypto Browser setup.

At the same time, Opera’s Crypto Browser is designed to address crypto’s growing pains with support for more efficient and environmentally-friendly PoS and Layer 2 chains which enable cheaper transactions and consume far less energy than Proof-of-Work (PoW) Blockchains. As such, the company has partnered with Polygon and will be integrating more PoS chains in its browser going forward.

EVP of mobile at Opera, Joregne Arnesen provided further insight in a press release on how the company’s Crypto Browser makes Web3 more accessible for users, saying:

“The interest in Web3 is continuing to grow. The Opera Crypto Browser Project was built to simplify the Web3 user experience that has often been bewildering for mainstream users. Opera believes Web3 has to be easy to use in order to reach its full potential and a mass adoption.”

iOS users interested in cryptocurrency or checking out Web3 and dApps for themselves can now download Opera’s Crypto Browser from Apple’s App Store.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

A clever new browser extension eliminates one of the worst problems with the web

A team of academics has developed a new web browser extension that rejects cookie consent pop-ups automatically.

Developed by researchers from Google and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the CookieEnforcer extension navigates through the labyrinth of menus that conceal the option to reject non-essential cookies on the user’s behalf.

As explained in a paper published earlier this month, the extension analyzes the rendering pattern of HTML elements to identify cookie notices, before mapping out the necessary sequence of clicks. An evaluation of its accuracy found the extension to be effective in 91% of cases.

The implementation of third-party cookies, which are used to track people across the web to inform targeted advertising efforts, has long been the subject of fierce debate.

On one side, there are companies like Google, which argue that tracking technologies prop up business models that guarantee universal access to web services and content. But on the other side are those that believe our privacy is too great a price to pay, and that there are ways to replumb the economic engine of the web.

In an effort to increase the level of transparency around data collection practices, regulations like GDPR were implemented across the world, requiring websites to request explicit consent from the user. But whether these rules resulted in a net gain from a privacy perspective is unclear.

“Cookie notices inform users about the type of cookies the website maintains, their purpose and, in many cases, the options to control them. However, in their current forms, cookie notices suffer from usability issues,” the researchers explain.

“Prior work has shown that these notices use dark patterns to manipulate users into making website-friendly choices which put users’ privacy at risk.”

Earlier this year, both Facebook and Google were slapped with multi-million-euro fines by the French data protection regulator over precisely this practice, which makes the latter’s participation in the development of CookieEnforcer deliciously ironic.

In lieu of new regulation that shields against manipulative behavior of this sort, or bans the use of cookies outright, CookieEnforcer eliminates the friction associated with locating the option to reject third-party cookies.

Unfortunately, the extension is not yet publicly available. The research team says it is preparing a general release, but has not yet offered a specific timeline.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More