After what felt like a golden age of Windows stability (ahh those glorious Windows 7 years!) we are back to Windows computers needing to be rebooted on a regular basis just to keep running smoothly. We can chalk that up to the frequent updates and patches that Microsoft is pumping out to try to keep us safe and running effectively. The unfortunate knock-on effect of this is everything else on your computer is also on this forced march of patches and updates, which means there’s at least one more indicator you have to watch. And if you are like most of us, it’s easy to miss that warning light!
What this means for you
Mozilla recently had to issue an out-of-band (meaning an unscheduled) patch this week for its Firefox browser to plug some security holes it said were already being exploited in the wild. To apply the update, you merely need to close and relaunch Firefox. The same goes for the other browsers – apply updates by closing and relaunching the app. If you are like 99% of web surfers, it’s highly likely your browser has been open and running since you booted up your computer, which also might also be long overdue for a reboot. Some of you are just focused on your work, and some of you have been burned often enough by long updates to carefully ration out the reboots to when you can afford to step away from the PC for what might be an extended bit of down time. Also, all the major browsers are fairly unobtrusive in alerting you about the waiting updates – it’s usually a small flag or dot in the upper right corner of your browser window, and let’s face it, you ain’t looking over there all that often, right?
Do yourself a favor and check to make sure your browser isn’t due for an update. If you are experiencing odd issues with web pages, or the computer is just running poorly, restarting your browser even when there isn’t an update waiting may free up some resources that will smooth out your computing experience. While it has gotten better over time, Google Chrome (and Gmail’s web interface) are notorious RAM hogs that will slowly soak up all available RAM the longer it runs. Microsoft’s Edge uses the same engine as Chrome, and while it seems to be a better steward of resources, it can still consume large quantities of RAM if you have many tabs open. And we all know you have many, many tabs open.