Google Web Accelerator

Filed under: — 3:42 pm

The new and enigmatic Google Web Accelerator has just been announced. It’s an application that “uses the power of Google’s global computer network to make web pages load faster,” according to the FAQ. Reading a bit further, it appears to be a combination of a caching proxy and prefetching. It works for IE and Firefox, though only on Windows.

This is interesting and a bit spooky: the Google toolbar tracks every URL you visit, but this goes one step further by passing everything you view through Google’s servers. When I installed it, I had to agree to some lengthy legal language to that effect.

Experimenting briefly with the Accelerator turned on, Internet Explorer and Firefox do seem a bit faster, but with a broadband connection it’s nothing to write home about. Beyond the obvious privacy implications and the marginal speed increase, the main reasons I won’t use this long term have to do with prefetching:

  • As a web user, I don’t want my browser filling my bandwidth with requests for pages it hopes I’m going to click on. I don’t always click on the obvious things, and I’d rather keep some bandwidth open for background downloads, other browser sessions, and streaming audio.
  • As a webmaster, I’m concerned about the effect of widespread use of prefetching. For example, if my site is the first result on Google for a term, thousands of browsers are going to be loading my site in the background even when the user clicks on a different result. This costs me bandwidth, confuses my statistics, and could cause trouble with advertisers who are paying for real pageviews, not automated ones.

Regardless, this is very interesting and I can’t wait to see what becomes of Google’s latest “beta”. Google is getting dangerously close to becoming the world’s largest ISP.

6 responses to “Google Web Accelerator”

  1. Google Web Accelerator stealing bandwidth Michael ( just posted about the new Google Web Accelerator and brings up a very good and scary point

  2. I am not comfortable at all with the direction Google is taking. It will seriously disrupt web analytics and undermine traditional banner ads, not to mention the load on webserver due to pre-fetching.

    I wrote sometime back on Google’s recent web product strategy. Again GWA fits into that profile.

  3. Tinus says:

    As for confusing your statistics: I think it’s best to use a javascript-based counter like PPhlogger anyway..

  4. WR says:

    Man, I agree with Angsuman. It is concerning. Thanks Michael for alerting us to this feature.

  5. Bald Eagle says:

    This is just another way to come up with more precise user data to sell even more targeted advertising. A spy ware in other words.

    The banner advertising issue is a good point to bring up as well. Fortunately, there is enough money in it that advertising companies will take Google to court. They may decide that it is not worth the trouble and the bad publicity.

  6. suizong says:

    where could I download it?

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