Overview of Google Web Accelerator
Google is now offering a Beta implementation of their Web Accelerator software/service, which is designed to decrease serve time for general internet web pages. Unlike similar products which simply cache web documents and associated files on the local machine to speed up load time, Google Web Accelerator employs a variety of strategies to achieve an enhanced browsing experience.
According to the Google Web Accelerator Help page, the following methodologies are employed:
- Sending your page requests through Google machines dedicated to handling Google Web Accelerator traffic.
- Storing copies of frequently looked at pages to make them quickly accessible.
- Downloading only the updates if a web page has changed slightly since you last viewed it.
- Prefetching certain pages onto your computer in advance.
- Managing your Internet connection to reduce delays.
- Compressing data before sending it to your computer.
The software works with both Internet Explorer and Firefox and can be used on other browsers, however a manual configuration of HTTP settings is required.
Google Web Accelerator Experience
A quick glance at the methodologies above raises some immediate security concerns. Especially the sending of page requests through Google machines and while Google clearly states that it does not handle secure transport or encrypted data requests, Web Accelerator does log and cache such activity.
The installation of the program is preceded with an interesting disclaimer:
Please read this carefully. This is not the usual Yada Yada and is different from the Google Toolbar Yada Yada which you may have seen before.
The disclaimer continues on to explain that all page requests and associate IP are logged and cached as well as cookie data. Furthermore it states that content which was not requested may be retrieved and stored on your PC.
After chancing an agreement to the terms and conditions and braving the rest of the installation, I immediately started the service and began browsing random pages. Some of my usual destinations and some completely new. A small icon resembling a speedometer now appears in the top right hand of my browser, next to which is a constantly updated display of my accumulated saved browsing time resulting from the use of Google Web Accelerator. I have been testing the product for about 1 full day now and my saved time is 4.4 seconds. Not impressive when considering the RAM that is eaten up by simply running the service.
So far I can say that I have not noticed a difference in my page serve time. A few exceptions being a handful of pages that loaded slightly faster than usual. Granted I am using a very good internet connection on a respectable PC, but I should like to see some clearly defined benefit for agreeing to let Google monitor my Internet activity.
Overall Google Web Accelerator is, from my experience disappointing. Perhaps a more noticeable difference could be seen on other internet configurations/machines, but for me it is not worth the system resources.