Chromebooks have a lot going for them. But as convenient and user-friendly as they are, they don’t have immunity against slowing down over time. Despite heavily relying on the Internet and the cloud to function. Inevitably, sluggish performance is bound to hit your Chromebook — just like every other piece of tech out there. Of course, this decline in speed can be caused by many reasons, and while the causes for the dreaded slow down are less likely to occur in Chromebooks than Windows laptops. There’s still a chance slowdown will happen. Keep reading to learn more about why your Chromebook is running so slow.
Reasons Why Chromebooks Slow Down Over Time
As with most electronic devices, Chromebooks will slow down over time with general use. To learn why, here are a few things that can gunk up the system faster:
1. The web is becoming heavier — that’s to say, more complex. Not only is this particular reason totally out of our control. But there’s also no way to avoid it. The fact is, the Web is growing more powerful, so any operating system including Chrome OS has to work harder to keep up, period.
As such, activities as simple as rendering Web pages can be too much for your Chromebook’s processing capacity after some time. Also, the older your Chromebook gets, the more sluggish overall performance can be, especially because of the lower-end hardware.
2. Extensions — using too many extensions is one of the most common reasons why a Chromebook begins to run slow. You may love the added convenience that comes with new extensions. But you absolutely won’t enjoy the toll it’ll take on the system.
The more extensions you install on your Chromebook. The more items will be running in the background, so the more processing power the device will require.
3. Apps — using apps follows the same rule as extensions. The more apps you install on your Chromebook, the more they’ll take up from the system’s resources.
4. Downloads and Locally Stored Files — the storage capacity on Chromebooks is usually pretty limited. This means that the more items you download and store locally. The slower the system will operate as it closes in on its maximum capacity.
5. Issues with programs — some of the reasons why your Chromebook is working slowly might involve issues with the programs you use. For example, if you’re using outdated programs or programs that are installed from another operating system. Then a sluggish performance will be the natural result.
Such programs will force your Chromebook to use up a lot of its resources, requiring them to be reloaded. Consequently, the speed of Chrome OS will be hindered.
6. Poorly Configured Programs – you may also unknowingly be using programs that aren’t correctly configured. Such programs will cause the disk space to be shallow, which will result in slowing down the performance of the Chromebook system.
Additionally, some programs open too many times, which causes the system to take a longer time to process them.
How to Fix a Slow Chromebook
As you can see, your Chromebook is prone to the same general usage stumbling block as any other electronic device: the more you use it, the slower it can become due to the degradation of hardware. But there’s good news — you can keep your Chromebook running smoothly by following the tips below:
1. Use the Task Manager to Determine Potential Performance Issues
This is the first and simplest way you can try to boost the speed of your Chromebook. Similar to pretty much every single Windows computer. The Chrome OS features a built-in task manager that you can open to monitor what your system is doing, especially at a given moment.
As such, if you encounter any sudden system issues, the task manager is the best place to start looking for answers. Here’s how you can open up the Task Manager on your Chromebook to find the culprit:
- Click on the Chrome menu button.
- Scroll down to the ’More Tools’ menu.
- Hover above it with the cursor, then choose the ‘Task Manager’ option.
- Alternatively, you can simply press Search+Escape on your keyboard.
Once the Task Manager opens:
You’ll find it’s rather simple and straightforward to use:
- Start by sorting through the active processes. You can choose to sort by a task’s name, memory footprint, CPU usage, Process ID, or Network usage.
We recommend you go for memory usage as CPU usage can be dynamic. If your system seems to slow down when you’re trying to switch between tabs or apps. That’s a surefire indication that a program is using up a lot of RAM. If you see an active process you don’t need, close it to free up some system resources.
If you want, you can do the same for the CPU usage next. However, keep in mind the numbers are going to jump around a lot, so don’t expect a lot of insight.
- After that, check to note the process that seem to remain along the top of the list; it’ll be using an unusual amount of CPU power. You may consider shutting down such processes if you don’t absolutely need them.
To end a process, all you need to do is click on it and then hit the ‘End Process’ button at the bottom of the Task Manager window.
At this time, we’d like to introduce you to an app that we find handy called, Cog. It happens to be an excellent piece of software for monitoring the Chrome system. You can find Cog in the Chrome Web Store. Use it to get a good overview of what your system is doing.
We recommend using both the Task Manager and Cog as a one-two-punch to better pinpoint performance issues on your Chromebook.
2. Clean up your extensions
The next thing you should try is clean up your extensions. This means disabling and/or uninstalling unused, old, or suspicious extensions.
A lot of people tend to overlook or ignore this aspect. But too many active extensions is one of the most common reasons your Chromebook may be working slowly. They can eat up your system’s resources and drag down its performance.
Follow the steps below to manage your extensions:
- To view the extensions that are currently installed on your device, open a new tab and type in “chrome:extensions.” Alternatively, you can click the Menu button, then navigate to ‘More Tools’ and click the ‘Extensions’ option.
- Either way will open up the ‘Extensions’ page, where you can review each extension and consider whether or not you really need it.
- If you find anything you know you don’t use, outdated, or suspicious, get rid of it by clicking the Remove button on that extension’s card. If you’re not sure about the status of an extension, you can temporarily disable it via the blue toggle switch and re-enable or remove it at a later time once you’ve made up your mind.
Extensions that can help you save resources:
While we’re on the topic of extensions, you should know that some extensions can actually help save system resources. Here are a few good ones to get you started:
- The Great Suspender — it’s no secret that the Chrome OS functions heavily when you’re on the Web, which typically results from opening numerous tabs as we explained above. The more tabs you have open and running, the more system resources you’re giving up.
Enter The Great Suspender. This extension frees up bandwidth by automatically putting tabs to sleep after a set amount of time of being idle, thereby removing them from memory. To reload the tab, you just click anywhere on the suspended page.
- Data Saver — this extension filters everything you view online through a server that compresses it before it’s sent to your device. This corresponds to fewer bits and bytes.
- OneTab — The Great Suspender will put tabs that have been idle for a while to sleep. But what if you need a collection of tabs to be grouped together for later reference?
That’s where OneTab comes in. This extension can easily group all your tabs together and convert them into a list under a single tab.
Then, when you need to open the tabs again. You can either restore them individually or all at once. This is a nice tool to have as tabs that are similar start to build up.
- Save to Pocket — if you’re a Pocket user, then you already know how handy this service can be. This extension allows you to quickly save anything you want to view later to your Pocket account, including articles, videos, and more. You can then close the tab and access your saved content later.
- AdBlock — ads eat up a lot of system resources and they can really slow down any computer system, especially ones with lower-end hardware like Chromebooks. Blocking ads can help keep the system from bogging down. But don’t go nuts and block ads on all sites. Some sites are “innocent until proven guilty” as to how problematic they can be. So, give them a chance and block only the ones that present the worst issues.
3. Uninstall unwanted applications
After dealing with the extension situation, the next step is to go through your installed apps and get rid of the ones you don’t use. If you’re the type of user who likes installing apps to try them out. But then you forget to uninstall them after the test drive, you’ll want to pay attention to this section.
Just like any system, the more apps you have installed on the Chrome OS, the more resources they’ll eat up. While these apps won’t take up any of the local resources when they’re not running. They’re still installed on your device and causing it to slow down.
Reviewing those apps and uninstalling the unnecessary ones will help optimize your Chromebook and boost its run speed.
One convenient way to do this is through the app manager. You can go there now to see all the apps installed on your Chromebook and easily uninstall them from the same location.
4. Move files stored locally to the Cloud
Typically, Chromebooks have pretty limited local storage. Just like any other computer, the closer a Chromebook comes to reaching its maximum storage capacity, the slower it becomes and the more lag you’ll notice.
This is why it’s so important to take inventory of what’s getting downloaded onto your Chromebook. Consider deleting anything you don’t need. If you find that you’re storing many files locally. Set a reminder to go through them every once in a while, moving the ones you feel are important to an online storage platform such as Google Drive. Then delete them from your device.
5. Minimize the number of tabs you have open at the same time
As we mentioned earlier, having too many tabs open and too many apps running simultaneously is a common cause of sluggish performance. Try to limit the number of open tabs keeping just the necessary ones.
As for the other open tabs that you’d like to revisit later. But are afraid will get forgotten once you close them, consider adding them as a bookmark. Or like we do, make a separate list of them on a program that doesn’t take up too many resources, like Notepad.
6. Install available updates
As is true for other software and operating systems, updates contain new features, security patches, and performance improvements. Your Chromebook should prompt you when it needs to update. But if you’d like to manually check if updates are available: open Settings > About ChromeOS and click “Check for Updates.”
7. Delete unused files and/or add an SD card for additional storage
Chromebooks often have limited storage, sometimes even as little as 16GB. As such, they can fill up really quickly. Upon closing in on its capacity limit, the storage partition will start to bog down the system.
Deleting files you’re not using can be an easy and effective way to boost your Chromebook’s speed. Here’s how you can get started with this system cleanup:
- Open your Downloads folder — this is the default folder designated by Chrome OS to keep all your saved files.
- Go through the files and delete the items you don’t need. It’s as simple as that.
If you want to keep a lot of files locally but your device is running low on storage. You should consider adding an SD card to provide extra storage space. Most Chromebooks allow users to add microSD cards. You can buy a 64GB or 128GB SD card and create extra space.
Not to mention, you can even make the SD card your default download location to take the load off your local storage all together!
If your Chromebook doesn’t support SD cards (for example, the Pixelbook). Then your second-best option is a USB flash drive. Of course, this means you’ll need to give up one of the USB ports on your Chromebook to use it; you’ll have to decide if giving it up is worth it to you.
8. Deactivate automatic sync
Automatic syncing is a very helpful tool for people who often require access to their documents but can’t always establish a reliable Internet connection.
That being said, this feature has its downsides. Particularly for heavy users of Google Drive as syncing can eat up large amounts of the Chromebook’s bandwidth and processing power. If this sounds like it could be your problem. Then consider deactivating automatic syncing by following the steps below:
- Open Google Drive, and click the ‘Settings’ cog icon on the upper right side.
- Under ‘General’ settings, uncheck the box that reads ‘Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline.’
9. Powerwash your Chromebook
Power-washing your Chromebook is an excellent way to get a fresh start with your device. A bit drastic? Perhaps. But it beats having to spend money on a new Chromebook.
Doing this can help bring your Chromebook back up to speed. But before you powerwash the device, make sure you create a backup of all your data by moving them to an external disk drive. Or upload them to your Google Drive cloud storage.
You can do both backups if you have some important documents that you want to ensure will survive the purge. Once you’re certain your stuff is safely tucked away, follow the steps below to perform a factory reset on your Chromebook:
- Sign into your Chromebook.
- At the bottom right corner, select the time.
- Choose ‘Settings.’
- At the bottom of the page, hit ‘Advanced.’
- In the ‘Powerwash’ section, choose ‘Powerwash Restart.’
- In the box that appears, hit ‘Powerwash Continue.’
- Follow the instructions as they appear and sign in with your Google Account. Note that the account you use to sign in after you reset your Chromebook will be the primary owner account.
- Once you’ve reset your Chromebook and the device has restarted. Follow the onscreen steps to set up your Chromebook then check whether the issue is fixed.
10. Replace Your Chromebook
If all fails, this could be a sign that you need to start looking for a new Chromebook. Especially if you’ve been working with an older model for years. This device is limited in the hardware department, which is why performance becomes sluggish easily.
If this is the case, it’s best to just walk away from doing anything further with your old Chromebook and invest in a new one. And as you shop, consider the aspects you like about your current Chromebook against the things you want improved about the experience.
When you first get any new computing device, performance is snappy and responsive. Over time, however, the system becomes frustratingly sluggish. This doesn’t always mean you need to run out and get a replacement: this would be an over-reaction. Instead, a more cost-effective solution is to find ways to get more pep back into your current machine. Something as simple as poor Internet connection can rob your Chromebook of precious power. In the world of portable computers, Chromebooks are astonishingly low maintenance. But just like a car, even a general tune-up does wonders for overall performance and health of your laptop computer.