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Does Opening Multiple Tabs Affect My Network Speed?

Question: I’m an IT web manager where I work. We now have a new guy that opens 50 plus tabs in Google Chrome. Since he’s shown up, things on our network have slowed down considerably. Logic would dictate cause and effect.

Now, I know from seeing other posts on your site about people asking about having lots of tabs open and it doesn’t affect the network as much as the individual computer. But when somebody has 50 tabs open, say half of them are running JavaScript, different codecs, codes, heck some flash, some JAVA,  that’s all gotta slow things down, right? I’m not talking 20, I’m talking 50 open all the time. Now I know you can disable updating if you know how in Chrome; I’m a Firefox guy, myself. Less data mining the better. What do you think? I’d love your input.

The best answer that I can offer is… maybe.

I’ve talked about having lots of tabs open in the past. Without a doubt, it can definitely impact the speed of your PC. The network, on the other hand, is possible, but a little less clear.

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PC-impacting technologies vs data across the network

Running JavaScript, Java, codecs, or any of those things are actually PC-impacting technologies. They’re not necessarily going to affect networking, but they will impact performance of your computer. They’re going to use the CPU, use RAM, and do other things that will affect the PC.

The real question is what are those web pages doing on the network.

As an extreme example, let’s say that those 50 tabs were all in the process of downloading YouTube videos. That’s the equivalent of having 50 PCs all watching YouTube at the same time. That’s a lot of data across your network and it could certainly have an impact.

At the other end of the spectrum, displaying a simple web page – perhaps even like this one – should have little to no network activity after it’s completed loading. Ten, 50 or even 1000 such pages open at once – should your PC even be able to do that – should have no impact on your network.

ChromeThe reality

The real issue is probably somewhere in between. With lots of web pages open, depending on what sites are being viewed some of those tabs may, in fact, be engaging servers on the net. Even simple sites, like Gmail, are constantly checking their web servers for new mail, for new ads to display, to see if you’re available for chat, to see who’s logged in and logged out, and other tasks. If you have 50 open tabs doing internet-related stuff, then it could add up.

I can’t really say for certain that this is what’s happening.

If you opened 50 static web pages that aren’t doing anything on the internet, then that’s not going to impact your network speed. On the other hand, if you’ve got a mix of things that are doing internet activity and you’ve got 50 of them, it could add up. I just can’t prove it.

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10 comments on “Does Opening Multiple Tabs Affect My Network Speed?”

  1. I went from IE to FF because IE would begin to “choke” and slow down after 10 or so tabs were open. However, now the last FF versions from 18 to 22 have the same problem. During an evening, I have to close/reopen FF a couple of times over time as the browser chokes with 15 or so open tabs.

    • Fifteen tabs are quite a few to have opened. But do note that Leo says it’s not the browser that is having problems, but the computer itself. Lots of tabs open in a browser can be using up memory, CPU and the like. So you might want to check in that direction.

      • So the 347 tabs I have open right now ought to be a problem?

        All kidding aside, I used to have problems around 275 tabs with 3 browsers open, but with my new computer that has 8 GB RAM, I’m able to have a lot more open.

        The issue in this article is the connection. Awhile back, I had problems with my computer crashing the network when I restored my Firefox tabs, but with a nice, new gigabit router, that’s a thing of the past.

        If our humble home network can take restoring my 347 tabs without a hitch, I would be a little surprised to hear that a network in a workplace was bothered with a mere 50 tabs.

  2. Shouldn’t the question be: What are people doing with all those tabs?

    Really, I’d like to know. I might open 10 or 15 articles that I’m interested in reading from, but once I read the article, I close the tab. So I don’t have 50 tabs open all the time.

    Then there’s Cathy with her 347 tabs? What are you doing? Why do you need so many tabs?

    I’m curious.

    • Yeah, James, I was also curious.
      I’m just listening to this answer today and it made me laugh how Leo read it–“I’m talking 50 open all the time!”
      Given my personality type, I know this would bother me :). It also bugs me to see people’s desktops filled to the max with files–ORGANIZE people! :) I know everyone has their own style, but I can see being in this situation at work and wishing I could say something, but feeling like I had no good reason to. It just doesn’t seem efficient! :)

  3. Meh, mostly it’s things that I intend to come back to, things I frequently go to and don’t want to bother searching bookmarks for, and in this case, a whole bunch of tabs with search results for some things I needed to attend to in the next couple days. For instance, rather than bookmark this page and hope I remembered to come back in a couple days to see if there were replies, I just left the tab open. I don’t seem to have any problems doing it, so why not?

    I ordinarily wouldn’t keep quite this many tabs open, and before I shut down Firefox I’d have gone through and closed the ones that were no longer relevant, but Firefox had crashed so I had more stuff open than usual when I reopened the crashed session. I’d had Ff running for 2 or 3 weeks without closing it, so a few things had built up!

    Oops, just checked and I have 372 tabs open. I guess it’s time to go check through things and see what I can live without. *grin and wink*


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