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Browser habits of an I.T. Manager February 23, 2007

Posted by Matsu in Apple, Information Technology, Software, Web.

Mac CPU HistoryThis afternoon I was trying to show Chris Davis some web pages that I wanted him to change and I realized my computer was quickly approaching my browser’s maximum limit for open web pages. It was running slow and becoming unresponsive. I use Apple’s Safari on a Mac laptop. I told Chris that we would just have to wait for my computer to catch up. He laughed and suggested I blog about my browser habits. So, Chris, here’s the post!

No, there isn’t a real limit to the maximum number of pages or tabs in Safari, but based on a lot of experience, I have come to learn that I must reboot my Mac at least once every three (3) months and I can’t run Safari with more than 20 browser windows open (each with at least 5 tabs) without it running slower and slower. Eventually, if I don’t restart the Safari browser, it will come to a grinding halt. If I am patient, I am able to still use it, but it takes about two or three minutes for it to respond to each mouse click. Not a very practical way to use a computer, though it has taught me a great deal of patience.

Now, I think this is a bug in the software. Or, if it’s not a bug, then it’s a lack of functionality. Others would argue that I should never have more than 2 or 3 browser windows open at the same time. I often get the response of bewilderment and people seem to whisper the question, “Why?” whey they first see my laptop with all of the browser windows. I actually use three browsers just so I can have more windows open at once. Again, I think this is helpful to me while those around me just shake their head and consider it a bad habit. I guess I think and work differently than most people.

By the way, Firefox on the Mac can handle more windows and more tabs at once than Safari. But, it tends to really slow down all of the other software when it gets overwhelmed. Safari tends to mostly affect itself and other applications run at normal speed.

UPDATE: It seems I am not totally alone in my behavior. There is an interesting post and discussion on the Web Worker Daily blog about browser habits and leaving multiple tabs open.



1. danteregis - February 24, 2007

you are certainly not alone! If I could, I would let all websites opened for ever! Sometimes, at work, the same tab keeps open for a long time. There are one or two that weren’t closed for like 4-5 months.

Unfortunately, I can’t do this at home, it’s a shared computer with same username for everybody, so it wouldn’t work.


2. generalmole - February 26, 2007

For the sanity of your computer, PLEASE RESTART IT, at least once a month! If not once ever week or two. Your computer will love you forever for doing this.

3. dante regis - February 26, 2007

well, actually I do it once every 3-4 weeks, but the house maid is always willing to help with a broom and a few not so tight power cords, making this time no longer than a week!

4. Becker - February 26, 2007

As a suggestion have you tried half the windows with twice the tabs ?? I mean it is only logical that opening a browser window would consume more resources than opening a tab. I typically have FF open with 8-10 tabs but should I want more I open another and keep going!

5. Matsu - February 26, 2007

Generalmole – I’ll try to reboot my computer more often, but it’s not easy! Maybe a twelve-step program would help.

Becker – Interesting suggestion! I have not experimented with either fewer tabs and more windows or more tabs using fewer windows. I wonder if it will make a difference. I would rather try that theory than restart the computer.

Thank you, everyone, for your advice.

6. Phil - February 27, 2007

After reading your post, I came across this article: http://macenstein.com/default/archives/540

Someone tested Safari vs Firefox and found that Safari really does slow a computer down. Maybe you just need to use a different browser.

7. Phil - February 27, 2007

Quick Update – the link above is now unavailable try this one: http://duggmirror.com/software/Using_Safari_can_slow_your_system_down_as_much_as_76_vs_Firefox

8. Matsu - March 3, 2007

Phil – I found the macenstein.com article very informative and helpful. But, based on the comments posted, it appears that both Safari and Firefox on the Mac have problems if left running for very long (as in hours or days). My work habits are not very compatible with browsers that don’t run well for weeks or months at a time. At least with Firefox my sessions get saved and I can pick up where I left off if I need to restart the application (or it locks up).

Thanks again for the link.

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