How to prevent resource-draining ads from affecting your Chromebook

If you've ever experienced an ad that consumes your Chromebook resources, you know how frustrating that can be. It's now possible to block those ads. Jack Wallen shows you how.

How to prevent resource-draining ads from affecting your Chromebook

How many times have you been working with your Chromebook, when all of a sudden some website ad takes control of your CPU or network? When this happens, everything can slow to a crawl. You might not notice this until you see your battery has been drained of precious power or your network connection seems to have ceased functioning. 

It happens, and you never know which site will cause it. Most of the time, these ads aren't malicious as they can be simply resource-intensive or even poorly integrated into the site. In fact, only about 0.3% of ads land in this category. However, that 0.3% accounts for about 28% of CPU usage and 27% of network data. Even though it's a very small portion of ads, should you get hit by one, it can put a serious hurt to your work while on your Chromebook.

So how do you avoid these types of ads?

Fortunately, the ChromeOS developers have a new feature coming out that will block "heavy ads" from affecting your Chromebook. For this issue, Google has come up with a fairly elegant solution: Chrome limits the resources an ad can consume before the user interacts, such as by clicking or closing. That threshold is 4 MB of network data or 15 seconds of CPU usage in any given 30- or 60-second period of total CPU usage. Once the limit is reached, the ad frame will automatically display an error.

Fortunately, you don't have to wait until the official launch of this new feature to enable it. In fact, you don't even have to be using either the ChromeOS beta or developer channels. 

Let me show you how to enable this new feature.

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What you'll need

The only thing you'll need to make this work is a Chromebook with an up-to-date version of ChromeOS. Make sure you apply any available updates to ChromeOS before you try this.

Note: This feature is also available for the Chrome browser on all platforms.

How to enable the heavy ad blocking feature

Log in to your Chromebook and open Chrome. Once the browser is ready, type the following into the address bar:

chrome://flags/#enable-heavy-ad-intervention

In the resulting window, you should see the Heavy Ad Intervention entry (Figure A).

Figure A

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The Heavy Ad Intervention entry in the ChromeOS configuration page.

Click the Default drop-down and select Enabled. Once you do that, click Restart at the bottom-right corner of the page (Figure B).

Figure B

heavyadb.jpg

Enabling the Heavy Ad Intervention feature in ChromeOS.

Once Chrome has restarted, the Heavy Ad Intervention feature is enabled. Your Chromebook should no longer be at risk, should you have the misfortune of landing on a site with a resource-consuming ad. 

Not all ads are created equal

Remember: Not all ads are bad. In fact, many of them help websites to keep the lights on. However, there are some ads that go out of their way to be malicious, while others are simply poorly crafted or deployed. When ads are innocent, they pose no harm to your machine. However, when an ad is not so innocent, the danger it poses can be significant.

With just the slightest bit of caution, you can prevent those malicious ads from wreaking havoc on your Chromebook.

Also see 

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Image: Jack Wallen

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....