Google Chrome, Windows Task Manager, and Your Hard Drive
written by: Brian Nelson•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 8/14/2009
Google Chrome seems to have the habit of chattering away at your hard drive whether you are doing anything or not. I think they might be seeing each other on the side. Let's find out with Windows Task Manager.
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Chrome Loves Hard Drives
In an issue that is increasingly being discussed on websites and forums around the web, Google's new browsers, Chrome, seems to be very chatty with many system's hard drives.
When I installed Google Chrome, I took it for a spin. Like many other users, I liked it, but I wasn't ready to undertake the task of moving all my resources over from Firefox 3.1 just yet. I also use Internet Explorer for many specific tasks that won't be any easier to use under Chrome. So, for the most part, I continue to use Firefox as my default browser. However, I do like Google Chrome, and so every once and a while, I take it out for a spin. I especially like to go Incognito and use it to search for Internet deals. If you are wondering, my wife thinks I spend too much time finding bargains and would be better off just buying something than spending an hour to find it $5 cheaper somewhere else. Yeah, right. That's just what The Man wants me to do. :)
So, the other day, I fire up Google Chrome. I go to my website Undefeated Daddy (tips for real guys who want to be good dads) to check out how it looks and feels, then, I get back to work. Just so you know, it is a Wordpress site with nothing fancy going on.
I didn't close Chrome, I just selected another Window and started doing my thing. At this point, it may be important to know something about my computer. My dad works for a big computer company and he gets things from time to time and passes some of them on to me. My computer therefore, is a hodge podge of components, some of which are very high end, all of which are not mounted with any damping screws or padding. One of those components is my hard drive. What this means is that when my hard drive gets hammered, and I mean really gets into some read/writing, I can hear it spin up to full speed. I can hear it for as long as it stays at full speed. Under normal operation, I can't hear it because it doesn't spin up to full speed unless it reads or writes a lot of data. This includes paging which almost never happens because one of the things I get most often is the latest RAM, so I have a ton.
As I'm working, I hear the hard drive fire up. No big deal. But, when it doesn't stop after a few seconds I get nervous. I check my anti-virus and no scans are running. At this point, I'm blaming Windows. Windows XP comes with tons of services and applications that seem to pop up and run unexpectedly. But, blaming is no good, so it is time to do a little XP system resources detective work.
Now, Microsoft Windows has come with a tool called Task Manager for many years, and Windows XP is no exception. Hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE and it will pop up right on top. In the window is a list of all your currently running programs. Of course, this only helps a little. But, if you click the Processes tab, you can see the individual processes that are running on your Windows PC. You'll get a big list and a lot of them aren't labeled very well. However, if you click on CPU then Task Manager sorts the list of processes based on their CPU usage. Since this is a live page, the processes will jump around, but the ones that are using the processor should be bouncing around the top. When you find one you want to zero in on, click Image Name to sort by name and then you can examine it.
The CPU usage looked fine, so then try the same thing with Mem Usage. Again, no problems here.
Since this isn't getting us anywhere, it is time to break out more advanced tools. Process Explorer is utility that gives you a more detailed and easier to read look at what is running on your PC. If we can see what the deal is, we can see it in Process Explorer. There is Chrome, but it isn't taking much memory, less than 40MB. Firefox has way more, almost 200MB. I don't see anything else out of order.
So, I close Firefox, just to be sure. Nope, the hard drive keeps going. When everything else is closed, and I know for sure no services or processes are running, I close Google Chrome. My hard drive stops spinning two seconds later.
I've been around the web looking for an answer and so far, only the question is out there. Chrome wasn't updating and neither was anything else. Does Google Chrome have some sort of memory leak? Probably not. The memory used numbers were not going up.
Is it Google Desktop? I don't have Google Desktop installed. I don't really need it. Does Google Chrome find the need to read and index my hard drive for search anyway, or is it something else? Is it bad code, or is Google really ignoring user privacy that badly? Is there a flaw with the way Windows is playing with this new application?
So, my new quest is an even more detailed monitoring utility. Watch for an upcoming look at Glary Utilities and any others I find.
So far, questions without answers. I won't be running Chrome until the next patch or release comes out. Instead, I'll be downloading Internet Explorer 8 beta. It comes with a privacy mode too :)
Email me with your concerns or your answers. Also let me know if you have any killer utilities that can help me run this down.