'The Great Suspender' extension is now flagged as malware, but Microsoft Edge has a built-in replacement

Microsoft Edge logo on card
Microsoft Edge logo on card (Image credit: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

Updated February 4, 2021: Google Chrome now also flags The Great Suspender for malware and the extension has been removed from the Chrome Web Store.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Edge now warns that "The Great Suspender" extension contains malware.
  • The Great Suspender was recently sold to a new owner.
  • Microsoft Edge has a similar feature that can be enabled through edge://flags.

I've used "The Great Suspender" extension on Microsoft Edge for quite some time. The extension puts tabs to sleep after a specified amount of time to free up RAM and system resources. But this morning, when catching up on the news from over the weekend, I saw a strange warning sign. Now, Microsoft Edge suspends The Great Suspender and warns that the extension contains malware.

The Great Suspender has been a trusty companion to my browsing for some time and never caused any issues, so I was confused by the warning. It turns out that the extension was sold to an unnamed third party earlier this year and has since been accused of containing malware.

Great Suspender Malware Flag

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The previous owner of The Great Suspender announced the sale on June 19, 2020. The comments on that thread accuse the extension of containing malware and new code that tracks people's activity. There are also extensive Reddit posts breaking down similar accusations.

I'm not a coding expert, so I can't verify any of these claims. What is known is that Microsoft Edge states that the extension contains malware and suspends it. Luckily for those that enjoy the functionality but are uncomfortable with the recent accusations surrounding The Great Suspender, Microsoft Edge has a built-in feature that's very similar.

If you navigate to "edge://flags" you can enable the experimental "Sleeping Tabs" feature on Microsoft Edge. The feature rolled out to Microsoft Edge Canary in September but is now available on the generally released version of the browser as "experimental". You must enable the feature through edge://flags, but you don't have to be an Insider or download a different version of Edge to use Sleeping Tabs.

Here's how to enable Sleeping Tabs in Microsoft Edge:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge.
  2. Go to edge://flags through the address bar.
  3. Search "Sleeping" through the search bar.

Edge Sleeping Tabs

Edge Sleeping Tabs (Image credit: Windows Central)
  1. Select Enable next to "Enable Sleeping Tabs." You do not need to enable "Immediate timeout" if you do not prefer that option.
Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

  • This is a bummer. I use it on all my pc's. Thanks for the heads up.
  • Oh awesome, I do hope this sleeping tabs thing becomes the default behavior (hopefully power-settings aware) but this is a good workaround. Great tip!
  • The sale and stealth update especially was very suspicious, I've uninstalled it now and might not have learnt about it without this article. That said, the warning might have been due to the recent removal of unofficial malicious extensions. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2020/11/fraudulent-add-ons-infiltrate-th...
  • Shouldn't we also want to enable this flag too? - Sleeping Tabs use observed site characteristics heuristics Sleeping Tabs should consider observed site characteristics as heuristic violations when opting-out domains. These characteristics are related to background notification such as modifying the tab title text, favicon, or playing audio while backgrounded. – Mac, Windows
  • Looks good. I've not enabled it on my Surface Pro x as it's not really needed with 16GB RAM.
  • This is suspect because Microsoft is is releasing there own product for this. I feel like this is conflict of intrest. AKA blacklist a product so you can do the same data mining. Bad Form Microsoft.
  • There is nothing "suspect" about this. There is a big thread on Github that explains how the extension has been running malicious code since November. Google removed it from their store aswell.