Gmail Faster? Are You Sure?

Great performance has always been an obsession at Google and it’s something that we think about and work on everyday. We want Gmail to be really fast, and we keep working on ways to make it faster

– says the Official Gmail Blog. They go on:

One of the areas we worked on was the initial loading sequence: everything that happens behind the scenes between the time you press the “Sign in” button on the login page and the moment you land in your inbox. While the improvements we made won’t resolve every “This is taking longer than usual…” message you might see when loading Gmail over a slow connection, we’ve seen a real reduction (up to 20%) in overall load time compared to when we started.

Hm…so the initial loading sequence got faster. Great news – I have only one question: Why do I now always see this previously unknown progress bar every time I sign in to Gmail?

Btw, I created the account specifically for this test, so it has absolutely no email to be pre-processed. Truth be told the progress bar flashes up and disappears quite fast in the empty account, but it stays there long enough in my real accounts with a lot of data. Not exactly a sign of progress, if you ask me (pun intended).

Update: A sure sign that Gmail must have gone through some changes is that the very popular Gmail Manager Firefox add-on is now knocked out: it is unable to login to any Google Apps email accounts. Regular Gmail accounts appear to be unaffected.

Update#2: I guess I should point out the positive side of the story: this approach is a lot better (transparent) then the Microsoft approach to their slow copy problem, where Vista SP1 improved (perceived) performance partly by rethinking the progress-bar. smile_omg


  1. Mary Southard says

    gmail is the slowest e-mail program I’ve ever had. I’m thinking of finding something else.

  2. Well, I wouldn’t call it slowest. It has slowed down, but I still find it faster than yahoo or hotmail… although I admit I have not gone back to those for a long while.

  3. I’ve definitely noticed a vastly degraded performance in my gmail lately. I never had any complaints until a few weeks ago, but now it can take minutes to load.

  4. Cheri Liggins says

    Just checked my gmail today, first time in 3 days – had the progress bar that I’ve never noticed before. Twice I logged in – first time took so long I gave up. Second time (hours later) I finally got a message that I could view via http because it was taking longer than usual. I never had an issue with the loading time before. This is not an improvement as far as I’m concerned.

  5. I also saw the loading bar and after a looooooong time tired looking at the bar i closed and logged in and the same was there even after an hr. any how Google is slow from the day first for mails. I think it has nothing to do with the speed as it shows; as if there is same set up then it should take the same time for openoing the mails page. Something wrong with th main software or with the associated services.

  6. You never noticed that loading bar before because it wasn’t there. It’s new with the changes. It used to be just text that said the page was loading and there was no progress bar.

  7. well – i used to experience lots of “this is taking longer than usual, click here for html” but then again I live on a small lump of rock in the south pacific and we’re a long way from mountain view. Haven’t had one of those moments since the new set up came into action.

    And i prefer progress bars to wondering if there is actually anyone out there!

  8. Within the last few days, standard view has become unusably slow. I don’t mind moving back to HTML view, but I’ve gotten used to autosaving and colored tags and such… 🙁 And I just moved to ~10mi from Mountain View.

  9. There has definitely been something bad going on with Gmail as of late. The loading page now takes a very long time and seems to be restarting itself about 20 times (no exaggeration). My Firefox Gmail Manager has been rendered useless and that is a big problem because it was remembering my passwords for me. I am finding myself checking my Gmail less and less these days because it has now become a hassle. While I am not yet ready to give up my Gmail, I am wondering if I should start looking for another email client that loads faster as a temporary back-up until Google sorts this problem out.

  10. The same problem had been with yahoo a week back and now its has started functioning normaly but it has also become slow than usual. Also if you have noticed the opening of the folders are taking lot of time and some times it opens with something unexpected.

  11. yes same here, never seen a loading bar, `till last week
    now get it all the time (connection at 4.2mb)

  12. It’s always better than a progress bar that jumps back in time, seen a couple of these throught the years.

  13. I have not been able to get onto gmail for two days. I have tried restarting, using firefox and safari. Nothing works. When I use Firefox the screen message is that it is loading. Then every 20 seconds or so it starts to hook up and then immediately fails. This is my primary email!!! Do I need to switch to

  14. Three or four days ago, my gmail on Firefox was completely useless. I managed to logg in after swapping into Opera but still, it took some time to view my account. Today, I think, it’s better but as KK noticed, folders need time to open and I usually appear as ‘be right back’ on chat.

  15. Gmail is by far the fastest and best email service

    Take Yahoo, AOL and Hotmail I have used all 3 in the past. All take forever to load due to flashy adverts everywhere, something that GOogle doesn’t have but useful adverts instead.

    Upload file size on Google is a huge 20mb, I havent seen better anywhere else (COmpetitors only have up to 15mb)

    And if you say its slow because you use Firefox, then its your fault you use a browser that is almost exactly the same as Internet Explorer 7 but has a very low market share in Internet browsers so no one can be bothered improving the experience for its users.

  16. Ok, but I’ve never had problems logging in and using Firefox before. What’s more, till friday, they ‘cooperated’ great and actually better than with Opera or any other browser (those two are not the only one I’ve tested for personal use), that’s why I wrote about that… I checked all possibilities which could interfere logging and might cause of me/system or any other failure. If it was so slow and bad from the beginning, I wouldn’t use it.

  17. Ania, you may switch your browser to Safari, it is much much more faster…. I already stop using firefox.

  18. Vijay Mitha says


    I’m been using Gmail from South Africa for many years now and the latest improvements are really awesome!

    If you guys in the Northern hemisphere with your ultra-wide bandwidth are having problems I’m sure its not Gmail but something else on your network!

    I have over 2,300 emails with attachments in most of them and my load time from the time I hit the sign-in button is 15 seconds flat!

    If thats not fast, I don’t know what is!
    (BTW – I’m on a 512kb shared ADSL connection!)

  19. Gmail was just fine before yesterday for me. Since the new progress bar was added though, I can only pull up gmail in the basic html version on my computer–which sucks. But I can pull it up fine on other computers in the house.

  20. Thx Manny, I’ll try it 🙂

    (BTW, I wouldn’t change Gmail into any other service because I like it and all its functions a lot. I actually ‘abandoned’ my previous one for Gmail [it was one of the Polish services, like Yahoo])

  21. Guys,

    I’m a computer technician and use Gmail several times a day, every day.
    I haven’t noticed any problems with it, except when the load on the entire network is slow (and then other sites also take a while).

    My guess is, most of these comments are from users who don’t grasp the multitude of factors that go into computer and web browsing performance… Try clearing your cache, using a different network (wired is always better than wireless), using a different computer, etc, etc.

    If it works fine on one computer, but is slow as hell on another… then Gmail is working just fine.
    The problem is with your computer or network connection.

    That said, I will also add that I have seen some intermittent problems when accessing any Google servers from a Comcast connection and OpenDNS… There are a few articles out there about it.

    “Chaos reigns within.
    Reflect, repent, and reboot.
    Order shall return.”
    — unknown IT haiku

  22. Joe,

    I am using Comcast and OpenDNS – have any more details?


  23. PS the progress bar is for transparency for us users, which to my mind is always better then a page which says “Loading…” without giving you any indication of how much it’s loaded.
    and yes, it’s great that if it’s taking too long, they also have a link for the basic HTML view.

    These features are put in place to make Gmail as visible and transparent as possible, and *in case* it’s taking too long.
    Please remember that Gmail is still in Beta mode, meaning that as great as it is, they’re not going to stop until they reach perfection.
    … Unlike companies such as Yahoo! and Microsoft, which only release periodic upgrades that are strictly necessary, the Gmail dev team seems to hold itself to much higher standards. Nothing is perfect, but they’re trying to do the best job they can.

    It’s a work in progress, and a damn good one at that. Most companies would have considered it “Mission Accomplished” years ago.
    Shameless XKCD comic plugs:

  24. I think this is the article I remember reading… I realize it’s outdated; you might try a few Google searches. ;-p

  25. After the change I had do use html for a while. Now I’m back to the standard and Gmail loading is faster. The real issue is that the loading was getting real bad and the new approach is a relief.

    I hope other Google applications could benefit from this experience since I’ve been in trouble with Picasa Albums and Picasa e-mail through Gmail.

  26. I agree with the other Amanda, now my gmail is not loading so fast…

  27. I’ve learned much from reading the above comments. However, I have cleaned my cache, removed alot of things that have been slowing down my e-machine, but, I keep getting the pop-up from Internet Explorer “Cannot open the Internet site Operation aborted” when I try to sign in. I CAN check Gmail on my phone, and on my computer (broad band) at school, plus, I can go through igoogle and can read messages but, can’t reply. Thanks for any help!

  28. MoxPearl says

    It seems Google is acting like MSFT and Vista. XP was good, but they had to “improve it”…
    Gmail was good, but they had to “do no evil” to it.
    The results are the same.
    One thing the whole computer industry never figures out is : ” If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it ! ”
    My pet peeve is when large blogs I frequent do their – seems to be required – once a year “refacing” – and of course almost every single time they make EVERYTHING more difficult and cumbersome to use.
    This gmail catasprophe is no different. They will guard the flakey upgrade and the crashed servers information like the King’s Men guarding the virgin princess, and we’ll never hear what really has happened.
    A rumor here or there will be all.

  29. I personally think my gmail access speeded up, and I’m just using regular DSL. I don’t notice anyone else posting that it works better – perhaps those who have problems are more likely to comment than those who love it?
    Keep up the good work, Google!

  30. When used Gmail for mailing ONLY, the speed increase is quite significant. Turning off chat cuts down 3-4 seconds of loading time. If you want blazing speeds and are okay with feature cuts, then a downgrade to Basic HTML speeds it up tremendously. Its almost instantaneous. Now this HTML feature is great if you primarily want to check your emails, but if you want to send mails, you might want to switch to standard format temporarily and then revert back to HTML.

  31. Babs Johnson says

    “Progress” Bar? What a joke. Gmail has sold out.

  32. Yeah, I agree that it now seems significantly slower. They call this progress? Ha!

  33. much slower.

  34. I’d have to agree with Joe on this one… If you’re having problems, try to troubleshoot, because I’ve been checking my email frequently the last few weeks and haven’t had any issues. The only change I’ve seen is that the progress bar has replaced the plain text that used to say “Loading…” in the corner of the browser for (probably less than) a second as you signed in.

  35. Ha ha ,

    i have started feeling the day first when i started using yahoo. With this HTML gmail its pesance testing in other way, forget the loading stuff. You are so much use to of ready web page which for every action its just a small click away that now to go for some process like deleting spam etc is puzzls you for a while. you have to click every mail and then select delet forever!. Remembering the old days of mails. regarding the downloading speed i remember when first time internet was available for public use, it use to take hell of time to upload and download files. it would go bit by bit even hyperlink was faster than that!. It would take almost a full day to upload a file. But it was affordable to use internet than to send through courior which would take days to reach to foreign country. I’m in computers since last 28 years and have seem major changes in the last few years. So just going back and pressing every button and doing things without instant clicks is a bit old days reminders. Hope Google will improve its capacity. Though search applet is faster than any other services even at dial up speed!.

  36. I agree with this post, now it seems to take longer to load Gmail than ever. I notice the same task bar and I don’t like it, very bad …

    Google you’ve tinkered with something that wasn’t broke, now you’ve added some dissatisfaction. I don’t like it one bit.

  37. It seems a new issue has been introduced by these changes. Yesterday I noticed that I accidentaly opened my wife’s account after she logged out. The logout in one used to invalidate Gmail authentication in all browser instances/tabs. Not this time.

    Today, I turned on my PC and I had neither to identify myself nor enter a password. Gmail opened right on my account. Of course I’m linking these facts to the new load strategy. It never happened before and I’m a Gmail user almost from the beggining.

    Looks like no coincidence.

  38. gmail is definitely slower. i thought there was something wrong with my computer. bought a new router and everything. i don’t need to understand how google/gmail works. i don’t need to “grasp the multitude of factors that go into computers and web browsing performance.” gmail worked fine one day and the next it hardly worked at all. it’s not me, it’s google.

  39. It seems to be back to normal, more or less, now. I still think it’s a bit slower than it used to be, but it’s not as noticeable as it was a few days ago.

  40. Definitely Gmail has slowed down for past few days especially after this progress bar appeared. Google, please revert back to old Gmail. It was much faster.

  41. I use google APP, gmail account for my small business email. So far, I’m happy with google APP gmail services.
    The progress bar, I didn’t feel it faster than before but the opposite, slower.

  42. Hmmmm….

    Have you all noticed something? despite of such loading problem say more than 15 – 20 days?!! there is absolutly no comment or anything whatsoever from Gmail team it self!!. Isnt it a wonder and somethng to think on? Are they sleeping on their service. Also some are saying there is increase int eh speed!!. We get stuck before few %. It looks like a flash screen rather than an genine prgoress bar!. Something is delebratly wrong. Dear Google you cant get popular with such stunts. Come back to earth. I m worried about my uploaded documents!!

  43. I don’t know how progress bar can make it slower, but for me it does!

    Someone in Google’s team better wake up – everyone was using that mail because it was simple and fast – if you want to make another yahoo from it I think it’s going to end quite bad….

    @Vijay Mitha: yes 15 sec is quite slow….

    Google – your progress bar stinks!

  44. I dont agree with vijay Mitha. It does not open only!!. We have to click on HTML version and we can get in. Ya the Sign in page is the same abut logging in is more than difficul. I waited for a longer time say about 20 minites thinking that it will open but ultimatly it was on that page only and that is why i feel this is a problem with something else and not a genuine one as if you have noticed, if you have more than one account with Gmail then it reacts in the same pattrn and sequence of progressing on the bar and gets stuck at the same place and not a 1 mm difference. This is surely a flash and not a genuine loading problem. We HAVE TO USE HTML version.

  45. Is there a way to force it to load html version every time? (I couldn’t find it :-/ )

  46. Yes, under that progress bar, it also shows a link with option to make HTML Version as default. While that progress bar is there, click that link and it will load HTML version on every visit to Gmail.

  47. Another Joe says

    Joe, the “computer expert” said:
    My guess is, most of these comments are from users who don’t grasp the multitude of factors that go into computer and web browsing performance…
    No they are not!

    I’ve used gmail on a daily basis since it’s inception and have never felt any reason to complain about its response on initial access. However, within the last week it has become apalling.

    I should point out that I have found that this recent poor response is the same on different computers located on different networks. I should also point out that as I work in web based development, I do appreciate the “magnitude of factors” involved in browser performance!

    The fact is that changes have been made to gmail within the last week which have made the initial page load time unacceptably slow.

  48. Joe,

    Do you mean to say that the web page opens?!!!!!. i waited for 25 minutes just to check if that opens but it does not and i was forced to use html version.

  49. @KK: Clear your cache and it should open the regular version.

  50. No joe it does not work!. i have done it many times. Almost al my friends have started using html getting fed up with this problem. Ya, and none of them have been able to open in regular applet!!.

    Anyway, i feel html is far more faster, though irritating to do all the process you need to do; than regular. Hope the regular one will start very soon.

    Ok c u later too busy day. Hey it has started raining here in Mumbai – at last!!!. Was just waiting to get wet in the first rain and to smell the earth!

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