Getting around the current Google Apps and Gmail slow-ness

Like many others, I’ve been getting a very bad user experience from Google Apps (Premier Edition — ie we pay $50 / user / year) and Gmail since early yesterday, Monday, December 8, 2008.  “Very bad user experience” means that everything is running slow.  For example, some of the things that I’ve experienced consistently for the past 36 hours:

  • I click “Send mail” and rather than just sending the message, the Gmail status indicator says, “Still working” and then, maybe 60 seconds or 90 seconds later, it actually sends the message
  • You try to use the new “Tasks” feature and start adding stuff and the Tasks menu comes back and says that it’s lost its connection with Google’s servers and your changes get lost.

This service failure from Google Apps and Gmail has resulted in a lot of loss of productivity and general unhappiness for those of us at SnapStream who spent a lot of time in e-mail (as Lev Grossman very astutely wrote, “when our tools are broken, we feel broken”).

But I think I’ve come across a workaround to the problem!  As suggested by @HughesJW on twitter, I switched from using Google Mail’s http:// server to their https:// server — and everything is running normally now!

While generally speaking, using https:// is slower because of the overhead of everything getting encrypted and then decrypted, the Google Mail slowdown is so bad that the https:// feels normal!

If you’re experiencing this problem, I hope this helps!

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