Skip to main content

Speed up Chrome and save bandwidth with Google’s new Data Saver extension

best google chrome extensions version 1409878829 header
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Next time you’re saddled with a data cap or have to suffer through poor Wi-Fi, connecting to the Internet might not be as much of a chore if you browse with Chrome and the proper add-on. Earlier this week, Google quietly released Data Saver (Beta), an extension that routes traffic through the cloud to improve connectivity.

As on Android, Data Saver for Chrome reduces bandwidth usage by compressing the pages you visit. Google servers act as traffic intermediaries, intercepting and optimizing websites before they reach your browser. Similar services are found in many popular mobile browsers, which makes sense; cellular connectivity is hardly consistent, and many smartphone users are stuck on restrictive data plans. Use cases for laptops and PCs are harder to envision, but users with poor connection speeds stand to benefit slightly.

Data Saver won’t help in all instances, though. To pacify security concerns, compression automatically disables on pages delivered with SSL (HTTPS) encryption. Incognito traffic is exempted, too.

For everyday browsing, though, Data Saver will work. It’s an easy install from the Chrome Web Store, and toggling requires no more than the click of the squiggly icon in Chrome’s taskbar. Clicking that icon will also reveal the amount of bandwidth you’ve saved with Data Saver enabled, with a more detailed view accessible by typing chrome:net-internals#bandwidth into Chrome’s address bar and hitting Enter.

In my limited tests, Data Saver didn’t seem to make a huge difference in page loading times. To be fair, I’m usually connected to pretty solid Wi-Fi, but your mileage will definitely vary. Data Saver requires Chrome version 41 and up.

Chrome isn’t the first to bring bandwidth-saving cloud processing to computer browsers. Opera introduced Turbo in 2009, promising at the time bandwidth savings up up to 80 percent through text and image size reduction.

Kyle Wiggers
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kyle Wiggers is a writer, Web designer, and podcaster with an acute interest in all things tech. When not reviewing gadgets…
This Google Chrome feature may save you from malware
Google Chrome app on s8 screen.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of Google Chrome extensions out there, and with so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know whether the plugin you want to install is hiding malware nasties.

That could become a thing of the past, though, as Google is testing a feature that will warn you if an extension you installed has been removed from its Chrome Web Store.

Read more
These 2 new Edge features are making Chrome look outdated
Copilot in Windows being used in the side panel.

Microsoft has announced a host of updates that will soon be available for its Edge browser, including the Microsoft 365 Copilot feature and Sidebar app support for developers.

The company is showcasing the new features during its annual Build developer conference, which is currently taking place from May 23 through May 25.

Read more
Google Chrome’s latest update solves the browser’s biggest problem
Google Chrome icon in mac dock.

Google Chrome is one of the best browsers around, but it's always had a big problem with memory usage. It's finally addressing the issue in a new Chrome 110 update that promises to reduce RAM usage by up to 30% and make the browser for efficient.

Chrome has a reputation for its speed, security, and feature drops, as well as a penchant for hanging on to your precious RAM like an episode of Hoarders. Granted, Google has made strides in improving Chrome's memory efficiency by hibernating tabs in the background, but it still struggles with it compared to Microsoft Edge or Mozilla Firefox.

Read more