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Is Gmail slow in Firefox?

I recently ranted about Gmail being slow in Firefox and decided to investigate and support my claim with numbers.

Here is a video illustrating the perceived speed (I could not capture how slow this sometimes actually gets but still looks slow): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yu3KMki-9_w

My perceived annoying slowness looks like this:

  • Open a new Firefox tab with gmail.com
  • The Gmail user interface loads up after ~ 10 seconds
  • Try creating a new mail, opening something or type something in the search bar
  • It often takes up to one minute to get the first task started (ie. start typing an email, read an incoming one or see search results)

So I decided to dig deeper and collected data in Firefox and Chrome in different setups.

Methodology

This is not a super scientific method but a good start to collect some numbers.

Hardware:

MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015) 2,9 GHz Intel Core i5 16 GB 1867 MHz DDR3

Firefox 63.0 (64-bit)

  • uBlock Origin 1.17.2
  • LastPass
  • Vue.js dev tools
  • React developer tools

Chrome 69.0.3497.100 (Official Build) (64-bit)

Steps to produce stats in both browsers:

  • Reload gmail.com a couple of times to populate the cache
  • Open Developer Tools, Network panel
  • Go to about:blank
  • Use the Back button to load Gmail
  • Start a timer for 1 minute, do not interact with Gmail or anything else meanwhile
  • Copy the summary from the bottom of the Network panel after one minute

Firefox

My usual Firefox profile, after clearing the cache but keeping cookies and other data I'm logged in to 3 Google accounts

260 requests 27.20 MB / 9.83 MB transferred Finish: 1.37 min DOMContentLoaded: 274 ms load: 22.30 s

256 requests 22.55 MB / 10.36 MB transferred Finish: 1.14 min DOMContentLoaded: 400 ms load: 22.79 s

Firefox without extensions

Same as above but all exceptions except Firefox Containers disabled

231 requests 22.66 MB / 10.28 MB transferred Finish: 1.11 min DOMContentLoaded: 145 ms load: 21.16 s

244 requests 22.33 MB / 10.24 MB transferred Finish: 1.14 min DOMContentLoaded: 101 ms load: 19.42 s

Firefox without extensions and all Google data cleared

Cleared all Google data (cookies, storage, etc) and logged in to a single Google account (my main one used in the above test)

223 requests 22.39 MB / 10.34 MB transferred Finish: 45.32 s DOMContentLoaded: 94 ms load: 20.32 s

237 requests 22.42 MB / 10.34 MB transferred Finish: 44.67 s DOMContentLoaded: 147 ms load: 22.13 s

Firefox, extensions re-enabled

Same as the previous one but re-enabled all extensions

227 requests 22.43 MB / 10.28 MB transferred Finish: 51.46 s DOMContentLoaded: 367 ms load: 23.53 s

230 requests 21.91 MB / 10.36 MB transferred Finish: 1.17 min DOMContentLoaded: 344 ms load: 21.88 s

Firefox, logged in to several Gmail accounts

Same as the previous one but logged in to three Google accounts again

265 requests 23.25 MB / 10.52 MB transferred Finish: 57.38 s DOMContentLoaded: 419 ms load: 27.39 s

242 requests 23.05 MB / 10.39 MB transferred Finish: 1.13 min DOMContentLoaded: 345 ms load: 27.12 s

Firefox with new profile

Created an new Firefox profile, disabled all extensions, logged in to a single Google account

238 requests 23.16 MB / 9.68 MB transferred Finish: 1.21 min DOMContentLoaded: 62 ms load: 17.77 s

225 requests 23.32 MB / 9.61 MB transferred Finish: 1.22 min DOMContentLoaded: 73 ms load: 18.24 s

Chrome new profile

Created a new Google profile (using the "Manage People" menu), logged in to a single Google account

269/273 requests | 1.4 MB / 1.4 MB transferred | Finish 1.0 min | DOMContentLoaded: 109 ms | Load: 6.90 s

294/299 requests | 1.4 MB / 1.4 MB transferred | Finish 1.0 min | DOMContentLoaded: 128 ms | Load: 8.91 s

Chrome new profile, logged in to several Gmail accounts

Same as the previous one but logged in to three Google accounts

293/299 requests | 1.4 MB / 1.4 MB transferred | Finish 1.1 min | DOMContentLoaded: 165 ms | Load: 10.99 s

290/295 requests | 1.4 MB / 1.4 MB transferred | Finish 1.1 min | DOMContentLoaded: 233 ms | Load: 13.11 s

Observations

  • How come Chrome only transfers 1.4 MB and Firefox 10 MB (both with a pre-populated cache)
  • Being logged in to several accounts and enabling extensions seems to have significant impact

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