Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, May 7, 2005

The Google Web Accelerator: Problems And Issues

Google has just launched its web accelerator, a free web service that allows Windows users on broadband to significantly speed up access to most web pages online.

Photo credit: Jerry Glica

Google achieves this feat by caching most frequently requested Web pages on its servers and by pre-fetching hyperlinks on web pages so that if you click on them their content has already been downloaded to your PC.

But nonetheless the purported good news, I soon discovered that the Google Web Accelerator did not come without problems.



37signals reports in fact that the Google Web Accelerator "can wreak havoc on web-apps and other things with admin-links built into the UI."

The accelerator scours a page and prefetches the content behind each link. This gives the illusion of pages loading faster (since they've already been pre-loaded behind the scenes).


What is happening is that in order to speed up web surfing, the Google Web Accelerator automatically downloads URLs linked from the page that is being visited, including the load of admin links for editing and deleting content.

"Google is essentially clicking every link on the page -- including links like "delete this" or "cancel that." And to make matters worse, Google ignores the JavaScript confirmations. So, if you have a "Are you sure you want to delete this?" JavaScript confirmation behind that "delete" link, Google ignores it and performs the action anyway."

"This wouldn't be much of a problem on the public web since it's pretty tough to be destructive on public web pages, but web apps, with their admin links here and there, can be considerably damaged.

If you have a web app, it might be worth returning a 403 when the HTTP_X_MOZ is set to "prefetch" header is sent. This will keep Web Accelerator from clicking destructive links."

Another issue early users of the Google Web Accelerator have been worrying about is that Web traffic statistics may be significantly affected as a large number of "hits" to your web pages are now handled directly by the Google Accelerator proxy and not by your server directly. That may save you indeed some bandwidth but it is going to be much harder to know how many actual visitors you are now having to your web site.

Some people have also reported problems in accessing their web mail as the GWA is killing their session as soon as they log in, and forum administrators have reported that when using GWA they have found themselves loading pages previously cached by other users - including user's account information and private messages.

"Although developers can forcibly tell Google not to cache a page, some have opted to block Web Accelerator all together to avoid violations of privacy."
(Source: Betanews)

You'd have thought Google would think these things through a bit more, considering all the great minds they're supposed to have working for them.

Anyway you can find a discussion site already running on the topic, and a in place solution for how to block the Google Web Accelerator.

Check out also the 37signals site where the problems were first reported and over a hundred technical comments immediately ensued.

The Google Web Accelerator FAQ.

What Webmasters Need To Know About Google Web Accelerator.

[ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
2005-05-12 04:21:10


Download mirror for those that would still like to try it...I have tested it clean and you can test it to...

posted by Robin Good on Saturday, May 7 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.




Real Time Web Analytics