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The Google Web Accelerator

Nathan Weinberg
Expert Author
Published: 2005-05-05

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Google has just released this product from Labs: The Google Web Accelerator (beta), which is designed to speed up your Internet Explorer browsing experience.

A full review requires some lengthy experience with it, but here are the details:

    Google Web Accelerator is an application that uses the power of Google's global computer network to make web pages load faster. Google Web Accelerator is easy to use; all you have to do is download and install it, and from then on many web pages will automatically load faster than before.
Web Accelerator works by requesting web pages from a Google cache (not the regular web search cache, but one dedicated to GWA) and by prefetching pages. It watches your mouse movements to actually download pages before you click on the link, and only downloads the updates to pages, instead of the whole page. It also uses multiple pipes to reduce delays.

Google Web Accelerator
GWA is not recommended for dial-up, being made to speed up faster connections. It only speeds up web pages, not downloads or secure (https://) pages. However, everything you type in unencrypted pages does get sent to Google. If you are paranoid, disable GWA before entering your credit card number in anything without a security certificate.


    To use Google Web Accelerator, your computer must have a Windows XP or Windows 2000 SP 3+ operating system. Google Web Accelerator works for the Internet Explorer 5.5+ or Firefox 1.0+ browsers.
Other Windows browsers can use it, but need to be configured to run all HTTP connections through a proxy.

Webmasters should get used to seeing an X-moz: prefetch header in their site statistics. You can configure your pages to automatically prefetch certain links by adding this:
Don't overdo it though, warns Google:

    nor you want to overload your users' connections with too large a download, and if a large number of links on a page are marked for prefetching, overall performance may diminish. So you should only specify prefetching for the links your users are most likely to click on.
Google also assures that (somehow) GWA doesn't prefetch ad clicks.

GWA sits in both your system tray and your toolbar. There are three status icons:

- Running
- Off for this site
- Off entirely

The speedometer indicates your download speed.

The preferences let you turn on double-underlined links for prefetched pages, as well as block certain sites from prefetching. You can also go to a "races" page that gives stats on how much time you've saved:

Load Time for 31 Pages

Without Google Web Accelerator - 11.0 seconds
With Google Web Accelerator - 8.7 seconds

Total Saved Time - 2.3 seconds

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About the Author:
Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

Visit the InsideGoogle blog.

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