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Browsers suck (memory, battery, etc.)

Posted by: Seth Posted date:

By Matt Heller | Read Time: 2 min

It’s essential to start off saying that we love browsers. We love the web. We love the vendors who make the browsers. However, browsers suck – they literally drain the life from machines, and that should matter to organizations if you are running laptops or desktops. The issue isn’t just limited to battery drain and how that impacts the workforce, but also the memory consumption and how that impacts productivity, system performance, user productivity, and quite importantly it consumes energy. Whether you care about saving money or saving the planet, we all want to reduce the energy footprint.

Every so often, the browser vendors produce results like these where they highlight advancements to make their products more efficient. These advancements are yet another reason to do everything possible to maintain an ‘evergreen’ browser deployment. Staying current to the latest browser can save the planet or save money. Either way, it’s savings.

Remember that browsers load the webpage, all the images, and videos, sound, and scripts, etc. Then they render it all and do so for every tab the user has open. Each one of those tabs consumes memory and pages keep running even when the user doesn’t have them in focus. Browsers have a long history of poor memory management; whether it’s memory leaks or bloat due to how the browser process works, they behave like they are trying to prove Parkinson’s Law for system memory. Staying current with browsers helps ensure your users – and their systems – are running the most efficient memory management available.

The good news is that there are a variety of ways to help get your organization in a place to the current browser release. Some tools, like performance views in the developer tools, are built into the browser so you can quickly get insight on memory consumption. While those tools aren’t designed to be enterprise-scale (they are single-user view only) they do provide a good point in time reference for benchmarking.

Other solutions require a more comprehensive approach but also give a complete enterprise view. You’ll want to focus on tools that can monitor application performance as well as memory utilization data from actual user endpoints. Many tools on the market use sample-based models or dedicated/specialized agent collection devices to gather these data points. While helpful for an overview, they fail to provide real world views of the experiences your end users encounter. Collection agents are specialized whereas the typical end-user system has multiple things running, other applications competing for resources and includes factors like memory leaks which impact end-users who haven’t logged out in days.

So the take away here should be pretty clear – stay current with browser releases, and you’ll avoid big pitfalls. Easier said than done, we know. That’s where our tools can help. Whether it’s having the ability to monitor application rendering performance, knowing which machines are running out of date tools, we’ve got the tools you need to drive forward.

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