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Monday, April 30, 2012

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion]

We all love our browsers, and we all love the extensions that you can install with them. Firefox‘s and Google Chrome‘s extension collections are quite massive, while Opera‘s is quickly growing in size.

We love browser extensions because they allow us to do what we want our browser to do that it couldn’t do before. And there are so many different things that can be added or solved by the use of extensions that it’s downright mind-blowing. But, as you install more and more extensions that you find useful, you’ll soon start to encounter some consequences of doing so.

Slow Performance Through Higher Resource Usage

While smaller systems like netbooks can be noticeably affected with just 2 or 3 extensions, even bigger systems will start feeling the pressure with 10 or more extensions. Affected? How? Well, your browser takes up system resources. Although the programmers try to make it use as few resources as possible, there are no limits to how much resources they can ultimately use.

Although the browser itself may run just fine, extensions add on to that, taking up more memory and CPU cycles. Your system will then start becoming sluggish, and all the benefits of your new extensions will be cancelled out by the slowness of your system. Sadly, there isn’t an extension which can fix that.

Higher Risk of Possible Instability & Security Holes

I’m sure that you’ve heard the idea that the less parts something has, the less likely it is to fail. This is also true with browsers and their extensions, as those extensions could possibly crash the browser or compromise it from a security standpoint. Browser developers try to filter out bad extensions, but in the case of Google, there is absolutely no guarantee you’re safe.

If malware applications can appear in the Play Store for Android, what says that Google has a better control on what extensions reach the Chrome Web Store?

How Do You Manage So Many Extensions?

Finally, if you’re the person that has 10, 15, 0r even more extensions installed on your browser because they’re all “extremely useful and cool and whatnot,” you’re bound to find two extensions that either contradict themselves or have two different approaches of solving the same problem.

A good example is session/tab management. There are plenty of those available for Chrome, and you might feel the need to install more than one of them. Will the two extensions play nice with each other? There’s no guarantee on that either, and it could just mess up or confuse your overall browsing experience, which is supposed to be relatively simple.

Speaking of confusing, even if you don’t have contradicting extensions installed, how the heck do you quickly manage 15+ extensions? I certainly wouldn’t want to have to take time to manage the extensions themselves, the very things that are supposed to make the browser you use better.


In the end, I’m not discouraging people from installing extensions. Heck, I love extensions. The few I use make my life a lot easier. But there’s the key: the few. If you’re able to cut down all your extensions to the ones you absolutely know that you use every day and are very helpful, then you’ll have a speedier browser and less worry about managing your pile of extensions. As for myself, I currently only use FastestChrome and LastPass, and I’m perfectly happy with the way the browser behaves with just those two extensions installed. I’m sure you’ll find your own zen place after you cut back a bit.

How many extensions are you using? Do you wish to share any relevant secrets? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}, Wease, Lemon Seltzer

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