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.

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Windows 11 23H2 reportedly has a nasty bug slowing down PC games – but there’s a fix

Windows 11 is having serious issues with PC games due to the latest 23H2 update, according to a cluster of recent reports.

Neowin flagged up the performance hitches purportedly caused by the annual upgrade for Windows 11, which seemingly affects PCs with AMD processors in the main.

Redditor BNSoul describes the issue in a post that has garnered some serious attention, and a lot of other users chiming in that they’re suffering similar gaming woes.

BNSoul writes: “Every CPU benchmark shows significantly reduced CPU performance after updating to Windows 11 23H2 from 22H2, even after a fresh/clean install.

“I could add an endless list of benchmark results here but just let’s say it’s always 23H2 5-8% slower in every single one be it single or multi-thread compared to 22H2.”

They add: “Games are also affected with random stuttering, all of this fixed by rolling back to 22H2.”

Another user on Microsoft’s Answers.com forum, Anant Acharya, makes a similar complaint backed up by others further in the thread: “After I had updated to the Windows 23H2 update. I have been noticing sudden stutters and drastic FPS drops in the above-mentioned games [Valorant, CS:GO, Grand Theft Auto 5, Forza Horizon 5].”

The stuttering encountered is pretty bad according to those experiencing the problem, so this is a nasty one. The good news is that Microsoft has supplied a solution to the Redditor who made the original post, which we’ll discuss next.


Analysis: Defendius Kedavra

That solution apparently provided by Microsoft customer support involves resetting Microsoft Defender, so the conclusion tentatively drawn is that the security app is involved in some way here.

At any rate, the downside is that the procedure outlined is not completely straightforward, sadly, and involves using PowerShell commands – that’s not the tricky bit, mind, but it’s the main meat of the solution.

So, to fire up PowerShell, just right-click the Start button (or press the Windows key + X) and click on ‘Windows PowerShell (admin).’ While it’s not clear that you need admin mode – you could just run the plain ‘Windows PowerShell’ option – it might not hurt to use it.

Once open, run the following two commands in PowerShell (type them in and press enter). Firstly:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted

And then:

Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.SecHealthUI -AllUsers | Reset-AppxPackage

That second command resets Defender, and you then reboot your PC.

The instructions then say when rebooting you should head to your BIOS and ensure that CPU Virtualization is enabled. Rummaging in the BIOS is the slightly trickier bit – as BIOSes are all differently laid out and have their own interfaces and quirks (consult relevant help resources from your motherboard vendor) – but many PCs may already have this turned on anyway, so you might not need to do it.

Finally, when back at the Windows 11 desktop, fire up Windows Security (type that in the search box, and open the app that pops up), select ‘Device Security’ in the left-hand panel, and in Core Isolation settings you should turn on Memory Integrity. Again, you’ll need to reboot your PC.

Then you’re done, and according to BNSoul and others, this process gives you the same level of gaming performance for 23H2 as seen with 22H2.

If the above procedure sounds like a hassle, or doesn’t work for you, then you can always revert to 22H2 and wait for Microsoft to investigate and hopefully fix this issue. Or if you haven’t upgraded yet and you’re concerned about these reports, you can always hold off on the 23H2 upgrade for the time being.

We’ve dropped a line to Microsoft to try and find out what’s going on here, and whether a fix is underway. We’ll update this story if we hear anything back.

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Windows 11 Pro users beware: Microsoft’s BitLocker encryption could be seriously slowing down your PC

Microsoft’s software encryption for SSDs, BitLocker, has been found to be slowing down SSD performance by up to 45% in Windows 11 Pro. BitLocker is enabled automatically when Windows 11 Pro is installed and set up, and is intended to increase the security of SSD-related processes. 

Eager to analyze the issue, TomsHardware tested the feature and found that SSD speeds could be seriously affected when running some applications. 

Apparently, this happens because the software-based BitLocker constantly prompts encryption and decryption processes with data on your SSD while your computer carries out read and write processes. So, as your computer extracts and puts away files and data from your SSD as you go about your business, each of these inward and outward actions from the SSD is coupled with an additional encryption or decryption process that kicks off automatically every time. 

A pcwelt.de article (translated by PCWorld) points the finger at Windows 11 developers including the encryption software as part of the installation process of Windows 11 Pro.  According to pcwelt.de, many modern SSDs have their own built-in hardware-based encryption processes, and that results in all decryption and encryption processes being handled by SSD itself. Regardless, Bitlocker is activated when Windows 11 Pro is set up without giving users the option to opt-out or disable it.

Person Working on Surface Laptop at Home

(Image credit: Microsoft)

What is the heart of the problem and does it affect you?

It’s speculated that Microsoft insists on doing this because if it doesn’t, then it must give up control of encryption to SSD manufacturers. This means that Microsoft would have to depend on these SSD manufacturers to manage such a vital feature for Windows 11 Pro users, and, in recent years, there have been vulnerability issues in the hardware encryption code created by the SSD manufacturers. 

These manufacturers have been attentive and patched these vulnerabilities, but perhaps understandably, Microsoft doesn’t want to have to rely on a third-party to guarantee users SSD security. 

It seems like Windows 11 Home isn’t affected by this specific issue because BitLocker encryption isn’t supported. 

To find out if your SSD is affected by this problem, you can do the following:

  1. Open the Windows 11 Pro Command line with administrator rights. 
  2. Enter the following command:  manage-bde -status

This should open up the BitLocker Drive Encryption: Configuration Tool which allows you to analyze all the drives in your computer. 

If you open Conversion Status, you’ll be able to figure out how your SSD data is encrypted. Next, if you look at Encryption Method, you should see what type of encryption is used on a particular drive: software encryption (“XTS-AES”) or hardware encryption (“Hardware Encryption”). “XTS-AES” means that BitLocker is enabled and is running software encryption, while “Fully decrypted” means BitLock is disabled and encryption processes take place in the SSD. 

When users use programs that greatly involve the SSD, because every in and out process of the SSD is compounded with an extra encryption or decryption process, the SSD has to handle more processes altogether and experiences greater strain. Microsoft may be working on a software patch to address this whole issue in Windows 11 Pro, but it’s unconfirmed if this is currently being developed. 

Developers

(Image credit: Startup Stock Photos / Pexels)

How to configure BitLocker in Windows 11 Pro

To speed up your device, you might consider disabling BitLocker, but you have to make an informed decision, as BitLocker and the extra security it provides is beneficial to those who use corporate and business devices, and those who find themselves travelling often, and find that they’re in situations where there’s heightened risk of the device being stolen in general. 

If you have BitLocker installed, because it’s integrated with your system on a software and operating system level, you can only access the computer’s data by entering the Windows account details tied to that specific Windows 11 Pro device. 

If corporate and business devices come with Windows 11 Pro, then it’s likely that they have default settings, and that these devices are experiencing this specific type of slowdown.

After careful consideration and understanding, if you need higher-level data protection and you still want to get rid of this SSD encryption protection, then you can deactivate BitLocker by taking the following steps. Make sure that you understand clearly what level of encryption you need before you do this! 

  1. Open the Windows 11 Pro Command line with administrator rights
  2. Enter the following command: manage-bde -off C:

C: here represents whatever drive you want to turn off BitLocker for, and if it’s not C: then you need to change it to the drive you want to remove BitLocker from. After that, you will need to restart your computer to complete the process of disabling BitLocker. 

There is a way to not totally disable SSD encryption altogether, but switch it from software encryption to hardware encryption and this process has also been detailed by pcwelt.de (translated by PCWorld).

I personally would only consider disabling BitLocker if you don’t use your computer in any work capacity, or if you don’t have any data or files on it that you consider particularly sensitive. However, this is still useful information in terms of understanding more about the inner workings of your computer and digital security. 

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Moment 4 update is reportedly slowing down Windows 11 and playing havoc with some AMD GPUs

Some Windows 11 users are reporting problems with the update that provided the Copilot AI when it arrived last week (among a good deal of other features).

That’s the KB5030310 update, which we should note is a preview update for those using Windows 11 22H2. (Folks can get the upgrade, and Copilot plus other goodies, by ensuring that they have chosen the option to ‘Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available’ in Windows Update).

As Windows Latest reports, some users who have installed KB5030310 (with the mentioned option to get the latest features activated) have run into some fairly nasty gremlins.

That includes reports of File Explorer – the central part of the Windows 11 interface that lets you work with folders and files on the desktop – becoming more prone to buggy behavior, and running noticeably slower in general. (Including sluggishness rendering the actual interface which sounds jarring indeed, as mentioned on Reddit).

Other folks are complaining about weirdness with the search box in the taskbar, with it failing to work, or the magnifying glass icon not rendering properly (in fact it’s shown as a letter ‘C’, oddly).

More worryingly, Windows Latest brings our attention to system crashes post-update, and black screens (the latter aren’t complete lock-ups, at least in some reported cases, and can be escaped from by bringing up the Task Manager).

Another bigger glitch here affects those who are using AMD graphics cards, and running the latest driver – apparently, KB5030310 doesn’t play nice with the Adrenalin driver 23.9.3. Every time the PC is restarted, those AMD GPU owners are telling us that their settings are being reset, which is going to get pretty old, pretty fast.


Analysis: The perils of previews

That’s a fair old raft of problems, then, some of which are going to be unpleasant to be visited on your PC. However, this is a preview update, and Microsoft is still working on the functionality therein – so it’s hardly unexpected to see flaws popping up. In fact, it’s very much expected, and of course, we get glitches on finished updates for Windows 11, not just those still officially in testing.

Unfortunately, if you want to get the latest features like Copilot straight away – as per the aforementioned toggle – via a preview release, then you have to be aware that you’re running some level of additional risk for encountering bugs.

What’s a bit more baffling is despite the reports coming in via Reddit and Microsoft’s Feedback Hub that Windows Latest has highlighted here, Microsoft still doesn’t see anything wrong.

In the support document for KB5030310, the company states: “Microsoft is not currently aware of any issues with this update.”

There may, however, be investigations underway regarding the reports of the various glitches covered above, so we might hear soon enough from Microsoft as to what’s going on with these apparent issues (and how widespread they might be, perhaps).

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Windows 11 update is reportedly slowing down PCs and breaking internet connections

Windows 11 just received a new cumulative update (Moment 3) a couple of days back, and don’t look now – well, actually do look, or you’ll struggle to read this article – but there are complaints filtering through about a number of issues.

The main bones of contention with patch KB5028185 for Windows 11 22H2 are instances of performance slowdown – with severe cases going by some reports – and problems with flaky internet connections.

Let’s tackle the performance bugbears first, and it might be worth noting to kick off that the sluggish SSD issue still isn’t resolved with this update, as we recently predicted (that’s been an ongoing barrel of woes).

Aside from that, on the Reddit thread announcing the update we see multiple complaints of PCs running more slowly, and/or booting more sluggishly.

For example, one Redditor notes: “KB5028185 is trash. Thanks to this update, my restart and startup times are both far longer, sitting at the Welcome Screen for 17 seconds where it used to be about 4½ seconds. The shutdown time is longer too but I didn’t time it.”

That problem went away after uninstalling the update.

Another user observes: “Why after [updating], all my games and apps became very laggy?”

And another person replies to that: “Same happened to me. Can’t believe how abysmal the performance is. I uninstalled the update and it’s back to normal. I hate how Microsoft forces such broken updates all the time in Windows 10/11. Never had this problem with Windows 7/8.”

A further complaint reads: “Has anyone else been dealing with your PC chugging super hard after the update? Worked perfectly fine last night, got the updates this morning, took 4 hours for the updates to download/install, another 45 minutes to properly install after 2 restarts, and now, 4 hours later after the restarts completed, everything is STILL super slow.”

A person looking very surprised at a laptop

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Roman Samborskyi)

Okay, onto the second major issue that’s being reported, namely the internet connection going down the proverbial tubes. There are reports of both Wi-Fi and Ethernet (wired) connections being hit.

Again, here are some posts from affected Redditors. One person writes: “My pc won’t get on the internet now. No wifi or ethernet. And my firewall won’t start. Was fine before this ‘update.’”

Here’s another: “My Ethernet does not work as well since yesterday’s update… Edit: After removing updates KB5028851, KB5028185 via settings menu, my Internet connection is working again! Took 10 minutes.”

And another: “KB5028185 broke my internet also, no connection via Ethernet or WiFi/hotspot, they both said ‘connected, but no internet available.’ The troubleshooters were useless in resolving the issue so I decided to uninstall the update and everything works fine.”

Elsewhere we see complaints about Wi-Fi network stability in general.

A third annoyance here is the Windows Security icon in the system tray (far right of the taskbar) is broken in some cases, meaning nothing happens when you click on it (but virus scans are still working okay). Again, there are multiple confirmations of this glitch.


Analysis: What to do? Well, there are workarounds, but with catches

It seems that KB5028185 is problematic on a number of fronts, sadly. If you’ve installed the July cumulative update and have run into one of these problems – or random crashes, which we’ve also seen reported – then a temporary workaround is to uninstall KB5028185.

The downside is that you’ll be left without all the latest security fixes on your Windows 11 PC, which isn’t great. And also, the update will automatically install itself eventually (you can only put it off for so long with Windows 11 Home edition).

Meantime, all we can do is hope that Microsoft is investigating the aforementioned bugs, and will be producing some cures for the PCs hit by these problems.

The only other suggestion floated on Reddit is turning off Core Isolation (Memory Integrity), as some folks have claimed that this is causing most of the problems around system lag and crashes. Turning it off – just search for ‘Core Isolation’, go to the panel, and click the slider to disable Memory Integrity (then reboot) – may remedy your performance issues (or indeed internet dropouts), we’re told.

However, there’s a big caveat here, namely that this is a security feature you really should have running to defend yourself against potential exploits.

So, you’re taking a chance either way – running without the update, or without an important security feature – but if the problems with KB5028185 are bugging you that much, it may be a chance you want to take (at your own risk, as ever).

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The love for open source software is showing no signs of slowing down

The love for open source software is spread across the whole technology spectrum, a new report looking at the state of developing software and the tools needed to do so has claimed.

The 2022 State of Open Source Report, conducted by OpenLogic, surveyed 2,660 professionals and their organisations that use open source tools. 

If you are a software developer or work in an adjacent industry then this is probably no surprise: open source tools are the glue that holds so many things together, a community of selfless individuals working towards a bigger goal. 

Open source love

The report asked respondents a series of questions to gauge their interest (and love) for open source, covering a wide variety of roles and companies (see below for more on the specific methodologies).

Most respondents use an open source programming language or framework, closely followed by databases, OSes, Git repos, frameworks for AI/ML/DL, and the cloud. 

2022 open source report

(Image credit: OpenLogic)

When it comes to reservations, respondents highlighted a lack of skills. But, perhaps most interestingly, a full 27% said they had no reservations at all.

2022 open source report

(Image credit: OpenLogic)

When it came to reasons for using open source, the answers were clear: access to innovations and latest technologies; no license cost, meaning an overall cost reduction; modernising their technology stack; many options for similar technologies; and constant releases and patches.

2022 open source report

(Image credit: OpenLogic)

Methodology 

Most (38%) are technology companies, but lots of other sectors are represented: consulting, banking and finance, transport, telecoms, education, healthcare, public sector, and so on. 39% of companies were between 100 and 1,000 employees, 32% were under 100 employees, and 28% were over 1,000 employees.

In terms of the regions, North America dominated, representing 52.6% of respondents, followed by Asia Pacific (12.4%), UK and Europe (10.9%), Asia (7.7%), Middle East (6.6%), Latin America (5.2%), Africa (4.2%), and Oceania (0.32%). 

Full Stack Developers were the highest respondents, representing 21.8%, followed by Back End (18.5%), Front End (16%), Engineering (15.7%), Project Management (14.4%), Architect (14.4%), DevOps (12.6%), and so on. 

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Apple to pay up to $500 million for deliberately slowing older iPhones

Towards the end of 2017, Apple fessed up, admitting that it had been deliberately and secretly slowing older models of iPhone in order to eke out extra life from their aging batteries. Understandably, the company’s customers weren’t happy and the stealthy throttling led to several lawsuits.

Now, the Cupertino firm has filed a settlement in a California court, agreeing to pay up to $ 500 million (with a minimum of $ 310 million) in the form of payments to affected US customers.

This includes $ 25 to anyone who owned one of the affected iPhones (listed below) and sums of either $ 1,500 or $ 3,500 to members of the class action lawsuit. 

These amounts will vary depending on how many people claim, as individual payouts will decrease if they exceed the maximum total of $ 500 million. However, if fewer people claim, the $ 310 million will go further for each individual (after $ 93 million is taken off for legal fees, of course).

Affected smartphones are considered any of the following, so long as they were running iOS 10.2.1 or later or, in the case of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, it could have been running iOS 11.2 or later so long as it was doing so before December 21, 2017.

The case against Apple claimed that, due to the processor speeds slowing, consumers were being led to believe their current smartphone was nearing its end of life earlier than it actually was.

This prompted them to upgrade to a newer model, at considerable cost, when they could have simply replaced the battery had they known that was the cause of the issue.

The settlement allows Apple to deny that it did anything wrong in the legal sense, and the individual compensation has been described as “fair, reasonable, and adequate” by lawyers representing the consumers, according to Reuters.

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