Gmail Slowdowns Rile Up Some Users

By  |  Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 10:37 am

If hanging progress bars and “still working” messages have become the norm for your Gmail experience, you’re not alone.

A thread on Gmail’s slow behavior started a couple weeks ago and continues to see new posts. The problems users are reporting — hang-ups on basic tasks and painfully slow searches — apply across all browsers and platforms. (Full disclosure: Gmail has, at times, been quite slow for me over the last few weeks, so I have a heightened interest in what’s going on.)

From what I can tell, this isn’t a new problem. There are no less than four other Gmail slowdown threads, dating back to spring 2009. And in January 2008, Scott Karp posted similar observations, in a blog post that got dozens of responses. Users in the latest thread say they started having problems weeks or months ago.

Google’s official answer to slow Gmail is a step-by-step guide that instructs users to configure their security software, disable or configure a pair of browser extensions (Better Gmail and Firebug), clear your browser cache and cookies and visit the encrypted version of Gmail, which is now the default. I’m pretty sure many users who are on Google’s support forums have tried these solutions, to no avail. Some Internet Explorer 8 users had luck uninstalling Flash, restoring their settings to default, and re-installing Flash.

At South-by-Southwest last March, Gmail team member Jonathan Perlow acknowledged the slowness issue, and said “We are fixing it,” but he said problems are mostly limited to power users with crowded inboxes. Some users who are complaining now say they’re nowhere close to Gmail’s 7508 MB allotment. (I am. But that raises a related gripe: Permanently deleting unimportant e-mails is no simple task unless you actively stay on top of it, and Gmail once promised that we’d never have to delete anything.)

I’ve pinged Google to see if the most recent wave of Gmail complaints is due to anything new, and if there’s anything else users can try. If I hear anything, I’ll update.


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20 Comments For This Post

  1. yoavch Says:

    Same issue here. Came to this post because I suffer the same problem in the last few weeks. And I am using Chrome …

  2. Jim Ankrum Says:

    I found disabling Buzz made my gmail go fast again. It was a night and day difference for me.

  3. ilya haykinson Says:

    I've had Buzz disabled for a while, and yet Gmail is very slow for me too recently…. so I don't think it's that.

  4. @Felke Says:

    well with a 50 MB inbox and Google Apps Premier running I thought my use wasn't the problem. I don't run Buzz at least not to my knowing ­čÖé

  5. Fred Says:

    This morning GMail wouldn't refresh, allow me to open emails, nor allow me to sign out. (Google Chrome). I'm sitting at 4.4GB of allocated 7.5GB. I closed that browser and tried FireFox, but got a 'server error' on GMail. After about 10 minutes, it finally worked. Slowdowns are getting more frequent and lasting longer. No Buzz enabled, but Calendar on left sidebar.

  6. geekwannabe Says:

    This gmail slowdown sounds like no picknick. I’m glad I have Windows Live Hotmail.

  7. geekwannabe Says:

    I mean picnic.

  8. John Says:

    Doesn't it seem like a trend of late? You have all these wonderful apps, that launch with a bang and soon get to a point when they go through a reality check. With all due respect to the innovators behind such projects, I think more focus should be given on scalability issues.

    And I still haven't forgotten about the Twitter servers going down ever so often.

  9. JHN Says:

    Never had a problem with gmail up until now. Starting today, it’s been more than slowness–I’ve had trouble sending emails, saving drafts, etc. etc. I only use about 1.4 GB & don’t have chat or any of the other apps enabled.

    Thanks for posting on this, Jared–I look forward to hearing what responses, if any, you receive.

  10. jpw Says:

    Same slowness issue here, however I had Google Buzz disabled but I checked my settings this morning and saw that Google Buzz had been re-enabled. I disabled it again and the slowness issue disappeared right away.

  11. Nigel Says:

    No slowness issues here.
    How many of gmail's users are affected by this ? Does anyone have a REAL percentage ?

    When you have millions of users, a few dozen posts on someone's blog means nothing.

    I'm sure facebook and windows live, or even MS Office are slow for a few dozen people as well.
    When you have millions of users you'll always have a few dozen or 0.001% where things aren't perfect for them.
    One needs to keep things in context.

  12. Shane Says:

    I'm only using 8% of my Gmail space, and I've noticed the slow response time as well. It's intermittent, but definitely there.

  13. ABC Says:

    Change your theme to classic…that made my mine run good as new.

  14. Robert Says:

    We use google apps for business. It's been slow for at least two weeks in our company wide environment. We have a dashboard to check that the server at Google we are connected to is running fine and it always says it is…

  15. Jasper Says:

    I noticed having like 625 conversations in my inbox so I decided to archive those to see if that helps. And yes, it actually makes a huge difference. Instead of waiting like a minute (but what feels like five) for Gmail to load, it now loads in just a few seconds.

    It appears to me that it loads all conversations in your inbox, so if you clear that out every now and then it doesn't have to giving you much quicker logins in return. So archiving your inbox? Three clicks worth the effort!

  16. Mike Dee Says:

    Slow here, has been getting worse and worse for the last three weeks. 3245MB usage, most of it NOT in my inbox but labeled. Priority Inbox enabled but turning it off makes no difference. Slowest activity is generally sending an email, get a lot of Working… Still Working… messages at that time.

    Other users I support have reported similar slowness with IMAP connections.

  17. Dixon Marshall Says:

    I use gmail through POP with Outlook 2010. It works perfectly from that app. I only go to the Web version to clean out the spam folder occasionally, and haven't noticed a problem yet.

  18. Paul Says:

    Slow for tha last couple weeks, but now always. Very slow to load emails attachments.

  19. Darren Says:

    I am on Google Apps for business with only 3% usage and it is so slow that it often times out on sending an email.

    It seems to be isolated (for me) to Windows 7 given my OSX laptop continues to work fine. My father inlaw experienced the same issue with Windows 7, but OSX continued to work fine. All examples connecting to gmail was through Chrome.

  20. Liam Iain Says:

    I'm currently only using 44Mb (0%) of my Gmail space, but have had massive problems lately. Extremely slow. Long waits just changing from inbox to sent. Some emails with attachments were never received and I never got a message of failure in sending.
    I've heard of Google's increased snooping and records keeping on all that use their service and believe it's their spying software that's slowing things down. I'm really considering of changing servers and deleting all Google based accounts. I already canceled YouTube account which they're part of for hypocrisy of material they ban. They've grown too big and want to monopolize and are now making deals with Federal Govt.