Google Web Accelerator’s Obnoxious Pre-Fetching

Google’s new “web accelerator” for Windows users, which seems mostly to be a shared cache that serves pages from Google’s fast data centers, can lead to serious problems with dynamic pages and web apps. The reason is that it attempts to pre-fetch the content of every link on a page. The idea being that by pre-fetching the content of every link, Google can then serve your “next page” as quickly as possible.

This might make browsing seems a tad faster to the user, but it can wreck havoc for the site publishing. For one thing, it’s going to totally screw with your web stats. Pages are going to get hit by Google’s “accelerator” that are never actually followed by users. This is obnoxious; it’s like ordering one of everything from a take-out menu, then deciding what to eat after all that food gets to your house.

Jason Fried from 37signals writes about how it screwed with Backpack:

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.

See also: Rael Dornfest at the new O’Reilly Radar weblog.

Friday, 6 May 2005