I often hear people complain that their browser is slow and unstable. It’s easy to blame browser developers for using sloppy coding practices and not managing memory correctly, but in my experience there’s a more common element: people who insist on having dozens of browser tabs open at once. While the browser is taking longer to display the pages, most pages that you’ve loaded are not slowing down your Internet speed. Some pages automatically update themselves periodically, but generally this is not an issue on a broadband connection. It is more of an issue of what is on the tab than if the tab is open. That’s an unproductive and pointless practice and everyone should stop it immediately.

Open enough browser tabs and it doesn’t matter whether you’re running Chrome or Firefox or IE or Safari or Opera: your system is going to slow down and eventually your browser will crash altogether, quite possibly bringing your entire environment down with it. Quite aside from that performance drama, there are at least some obvious reasons why having multiple tabs open is pointless.

One and Done
Most web pages on the Internet don’t communicate back and forth with the server. When they finish downloading, they’re done. Web pages without any dynamically updating content will be stored in the computer’s memory and displayed when brought up on the screen. A static page will not slow down your Internet speed after it has finished downloading. Any slowdown you experience when switching between static page tabs, or loading another web page in a different tab when you have several static web pages in tabs, is caused by something other than your Internet speed.

You Can’t See What’s In Them Anyway
I want to be able to refer to that later” is the underlying argument of many chronic new tab openers. But when you have so many tabs open that you can’t see anything but the favicons, you’ll waste lots of time hunting down that one elusive page. With nine open, you can see the page titles easily.

Updating Pages
Some web pages feature automatic refreshing, buffer a large amount of data or download a large web application. The refresh could be the entire page or just a section of the page. Pages that use automatic updating usually just pull in small amounts of incidental data that won’t be a problem for a high speed connection to handle. Any slowdown will be sporadic and likely unnoticeable. These page updates are typically handled through an asynchronous programming language like AJAX. It is possible to program a page that abuses automatic refreshing that will compromise a user’s bandwidth. However, buffering a video stream or downloading a sizable in-browser app on an inactive tab can siphon bandwidth from other web-related tasks and slow down your Internet speed.

Your Browser History Is a Better Solution
You run into an interesting article and figure you’ll check it out later. You don’t need to keep it open—your browser is tracking your history. As long as you can remember one or two keywords, you can easily hunt it down when you want it. Your computer is more efficient at searching than you are. Let it do the work.

Virtual Memory
Chances are that any slowdown you’re experiencing from having multiple page tabs open is caused by dipping in to your computer’s virtual memory. Virtual memory is an extension of the system’s main memory, the RAM, with hard drive space. It is used to expand the maximum amount of information the computer can process at any given time. Typically, inactive programs are cached to the virtual memory and reloaded when they’re brought back up. The screeching-halt slowdown when jumping from tab-to-tab may be caused by the computer pulling the shelved page back into the system’s RAM. If you are loading new pages at the same time, this can affect the computer’s ability to assemble and display a newly downloaded page; however, it is not affecting your Internet speed.

You Can’t Process That Much Information Simultaneously
Dozens of open tabs signifies either procrastination on a truly epic scale or a chronic inability to focus on an immediate task at hand. Either way, it’s not the sign of someone working efficiently. For instance for a content writer, to get information from multiple sources is a big part of the job. At the same time it does not mean that he/she must open multiple browsers at once. Absorb the data from one place, then move on.

Active Scripts
Some web pages feature complex scripts that have your browser perform constant, complex calculations. An active script can run in a background tab and use up a sizable amount of memory and CPU cycles, which can affect the computer’s ability to process and display a downloaded web page in another tab. The slowdown occurs on the machine and not the Internet connection itself.

It Wastes Good Keyboard Shortcuts
Those reasons easily justify not having multiple tabs open, but why pick more tabs as the upper limit? Simple: every modern browser supports using Ctrl-1 to go to the first open tab, Ctrl-2 to the second, and so on. If you have windows that are constantly open (your mail client, social networking, content management systems), you can keep them in the same location and switch to them instantly using the keyboard. Granted, this still works even if you have 40 open, but it makes sense to match the available shortcuts with your screen real estate.

Most Web Pages and Bandwidth

Does playing video games and opening multiple browsers affect bandwidth?

Bandwidth is all about data transfer. Your internet connection can only transmit data at a certain rate, so if you’re doing something, like playing a game, which requires continuous data transfer, other things which are also transferring data at the same time might impact it.

For the most part, once a web page has been shown in your browser, there’s no more downloading going on. There are no file transfers, no ongoing internet activity – the page is just sitting there in your browser looking pretty, waiting for you to do something with it. The act of browsing to a page and causing it to be displayed causes internet activity, but once it’s displayed, that’s over.

So, no, those multiple tabs of web pages aren’t likely to be impacting anyone’s gaming experience.