I reviewed The Great Suspender extension for Chromium-based web browsers last August. My review of the extension, which can be configured to automatically suspend inactive tabs, was favorable. That review also brought The New Leaf Journal its first brush with success on social media. However, at the time I wrote the review, I was unaware that the open-source extension had been sold to an anonymous maintainer. This maintainer inserted unsavory trackers into the extension. I discussed that unfortunate development in an early Around the Web post and updated my Great Suspender review accordingly. The original Great Suspender extension was removed from the Chrome web store on account of the conduct of its new owner.
Fortunately, because The Great Suspender code was open source, there were options to continue to benefit from what the extension offers without the trackers. Some people used the latest pre-tracker version of the extension. However, at least two developers forked The Great Suspender repository and undertook maintaining their own, ad- and tracker-free, versions of The Great Suspender extension. I will discuss The Great Suspender No Track and The Marvelous Suspender in brief below.
Two notes before I continue. First, the contents of this review are up to date as of August 4, 2021. Second, I have not personally reviewed the source code of the two extensions I am about to discuss, nor would I be qualified to do so. I encourage you to, if you are so qualified, review them yourself on GitHub and perhaps contribute to the development and maintenance of the extensions.
A GitHub user who goes by “aciidic” created a new Great Suspender repository titled “thegreatsuspender-notrack.” His version of The Great Suspender was forked from version 7.1.8 of The Great Suspender – which originally contained some of the illicit tracking code. He describes his version of the extension as follows:
Modified version of “The Great Suspender* to remove analytics tracking and rogue .js files from anonymous developer who is now in control of the GitHub source & web store versions.
Specifically, aciidic forked what was then the last version of The Great Suspender but removed all of the tracking code along with some pop-ups and prompts. The maintainer added a qualifier, noting that he spent two hours on the project, is not a developer, and does not intend to spend much time keeping the extension updated.
The last new version of the aciidic’s Great Suspender was released on February 28, 2021. In that version, he promptly responded to a request to remove a “gsAnalytics.js” file from the code.
I have used thegreatsuspender-notrack and found that it does its job perfectly and as well as the original Great Suspender before it went sour. It contains the same options and settings that The Great Suspender did when I wrote my review last August.
This version of The Great Suspender is not available on the Chrome Store. In order to use it, one must download it from GitHub, enable developer mode in their Chromium-based browser’s extensions menu, and load the file as an unpacked extension. The process is not difficult, and the GitHub page for the extension provides clear instructions. This is not an issue for me because I use the Ungoogled Chromium browser and side-load all of my extensions, but some may prefer the easier-to-install Chrome Store option that we will discuss next.
Besides the side-loading requirement, it is worth noting that aciidic, the maintainer, has indicated that he will not maintain the extension rigorously. However, he does appear to respond to requests and issues in an expeditious matter. Regarding the most recent version, “7.1.12-notrack” – I praise aciidic for a job well-done.
A web system administrator by the name of Giovanni Francesco Solone (“Gioxx”) forked version 7.1.6 of the original Great Suspender (the last clean version of the original extension) and created The Marvelous Suspender – which has a slightly modified version of the original Great Suspender logo.
He discussed the project on his website. Like aciidic’s, Gioxx’s Marvelous Suspender also pledges to be tracker-free. Mr. Gioxx stated that Marvelous Suspender will always be free, open source, and free of trackers. He noted that while he will work to maintain it, he is seeking help from developers. Mr. Gioxx also suggested that he will look to create a version of Marvelous Suspender for Firefox.
As of the writing of this article, the most recent Marvelous Suspender release came out on April 3, 2021 (version 184.108.40.206).
I am currently using The Marvelous Suspender on Ungoogled Chromium. It works well, similarly to aciidic’s version of the extension and to the original The Great Suspender extension. All of the notes in my original review apply to The Marvelous Suspender.
For many users, the fact that The Marvelous Suspender is available on the Chrome Store will be a significant advantage to it over thegreatsuspender-notrack. However, The Marvelous Suspender can be side-loaded into a Chromium-based browser that supports extensions in the same way as the No Track version, and Gioxx provides instructions on the GitHub page. I successfully side-loaded it into Ungoogled Chroimum.
Numerous issues have been raised and requests made on GitHub, and Gioxx appears to respond quickly and enthusiastically to requests. One reason I am using The Marvelous Suspender for the time being is that it seems to me to be more likely to be updated and maintained in the long run than the No Track version – but both do their job well from my experience using them.
Interesting Thread Comparing No Track and Marvelous Suspender
On February 5 and 6, several GitHub users engaged in a discussion about the Marvelous Suspender’s security. In it, the commenters note that Marvelous Suspender was forked from version 7.1.6 of The Great Suspender while No Track was forked from version 7.1.8. The developer of the No Track version, aciidic, posted to explain why he started from version 7.1.8 instead of version 7.1.6. Some users may find the comparison useful for determining which version of the extension best suits their needs.
Other Versions of the Extension
(July 31, 2023 Update: Neither of the extensions referenced below are still available in the Chrome Store. I preserved the original 2021 text but removed the now-broken links.)
There are two other versions of The Great Suspender extension on the Chrome store: The Great Suspender Original and The Great Suspender. Both state that they are forks of the original Great Suspender, but neither includes a link to the source repositories from their Chrome Store page (Marvelous Suspender does include a link). I have not tried, and do not plan to try, these versions of the extension.
In my original review of The Great Suspender, I appreciated the extension’s functionality. That became moot when the extension began engaging in some very questionable behavior. I liked The Great Suspender enough to look for an alternative, and it was through that process that I came across the forked versions maintained by aciidic and Gioxx. Both versions, as of August 3, 2021, have proven to work well for me (tested on Ungoogled Chromium, Brave, and Vivaldi – currently using Ungoogled Chromium). Other than their apparently not misbehaving, they work similarly enough to The Great Suspender that the contents of my review of the original extension apply in full here.
As I opined last August, a tab suspender is not necessary for everyone. My main computer has 32 GB of RAM and I do not keep hundreds (if not more) of tabs open. Nevertheless, I like the extension, and for me it is a reminder to keep my computer workspace uncluttered. But for those who are interested, both versions of the extension that I discussed are available to download directly from GitHub, and The Marvelous Suspender is also available from the Chrome Store.