If you pick up tech journal, or read one online, chances are you are going to come across an article about Google Chrome, Google’s much-hyped Internet browser. Actually, most of these articles would be more accurately described as love letters. In them, you will read how fast Chrome uploads, how customizable it is, how it’s built upon a “multi-processing platform,” and how great Chrome is if you are a web designer or search engine optimization (SEO) guru. With increasing frequency, you may even come across articles from respected trade journals criticizing other, competing web browsers, such as the popular Firefox browser. An example of such a critique can be seen in a video from TR Dojo at Tech Republic here.
In fact, if you take a moment to research what is being written in the tech world about Internet browsers, you will find almost nothing negative about Google Chrome unless you take the time to read the comments at the end of some of these articles. Read them, and you will discover a great many consumers complaining about Chrome’s recent tendency to crash – often – and the fact that, well, it just isn’t as fast at is once was.
Unfortunately, most of these voices are drowned out by the cacophony of Google Chrome lovers. So, for this article, I thought I would tell you about my own personal experience with Google Chrome over the past several months and why I decided to dump Google Chrome this week.
When I first started using Google Chrome in its 2008 beta version, I must admit that I was not all that impressed. Sure, it was fast in comparison to both Firefox and Internet Explorer, but it had virtually no customization. Eventually, however, Google introduced its own “extensions” for Chrome. Most of these are, in effect, the same as Firefox’s “extensions.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with Firefox, Firefox allows for extensive, feature-rich customization by downloading additional features and capabilities that the browser refers to as “add ons” or “extensions.” Firefox also allows for the addition of “plug-ins,” such as flash or java, as well as the addition of “themes” which alter the appearance of the browser according to the user’s choice.
“Extensions” have been Firefox’s double-edged sword. On the one hand, a persistent criticism of Firefox is that these “extensions” – when downloaded in quantity – tended to slow the browser down — often quite considerably. On the other hand, Firefox’s “extensions” allow you to create your own, individualized Internet browsing experience.
Not surprisingly, once Google Chrome introduced Firefox-like extensions, the browser, in my opinion, began to lose its speedy edge. Moreover, it now suffers from some of the same problems these extensions created for Firefox. For me, the troubles seemed to begin with Chrome’s “Cool Iris” extension. Again, for those of you unfamiliar with the application, Cool Iris is an image viewing platform that allows you to view your photographs, Flickr photographs, videos, TV shows, movie clips, and the like in a beautiful, gallery-like setting as shown here.
This extension has always performed perfectly in Firefox. Unfortunately, whenever I used the extension in Google Chrome, it crashed. More importantly, however, when Cool Iris crashed, the entire Chrome browser crashed. Because of Chrome’s “multi-processing” platform, such wholesale crashing was not supposed to happen. As a matter of fact, (and without getting into too much technical jargon) one feature that Google touted about Chrome was that it was built on a platform where what happens in one tab doesn’t affect what happens in another.
In other words, say you have one application running in one tab of Google Chrome and another application running in a second tab. If the first application crashed on you, then only that application would close. You would still be able to continue working with the second application, and the Chrome browser would remain open. Admittedly, this feature was a significant improvement over Firefox. Unlike Chrome, if the first application crashed in Firefox, the entire browser had a tendency to crash.
There is only one problem, from my experience — Google Chrome’s feature does not work, at least not all the time. I consider myself a power user of any browser that I am using, and up until this week, I can honestly say that Google Chrome crashed on me at least 3 times each week. It crashed on different machines and different operating systems (e.g., Windows XP v. Windows Vista). And, what seemed to trip this crashing tendency was no longer limited to Cool Iris, which, incidentally, I continued to run without any problems on Firefox.
As I said at the outset of this article, I finally got to the point this week where enough was enough, and I dumped Google Chrome. For me, an average of 3 crashes per week, coupled with slower operating speeds, is unacceptably high from a browser that touts its stability and speed.
Perhaps, my experience is an anomaly. Nevertheless, I thought I would share it with you because the information on the Internet about Google Chrome is, in my opinion, erroneously one-sided. I am not suggesting that you dump it as I did. However, in an upcoming article, I will feature a list of other Internet browsers that you may want to consider if you are not happy with Google Chrome or, for that matter, Firefox. In the meantime, I welcome your comments, thoughts, or suggestions about Google Chrome. In particular, if you had the same experience with Google Chrome as I did but then learned that something else caused the problem, please let me know and I will re-examine the situation for a future writing.