There’s nothing quite as harrowing as having anything Google go toes up — because there is no clear path to getting a hassle-free technical support experience even if you pay your way as a Google Apps Premier Customer and even if you write the first Google Apps Administrator Guide book to market. I have a long history of writing technical books and providing online technical support and, without question, Google are the absolute worst problem solvers when it comes to the individual incident and fixing the outlier and resolving the uncommon anomaly. We won’t get into how generally awful Blogger tech support is today — we’ll just stay focused on Google Apps Premier for now.
Over the past week or so, BolesUniversity.com users have been reporting a dreadful slowdown of all Google Apps services. We were loathe to officially report the trouble to Google because they are famous for running you around in circles as they try to turn you away from actually getting a solid solution to your problem. It’s a madding experience with the new Evil Empire.
Yesterday morning, Gmail was taking 30 seconds to load in browser view. Calendar was slow to save and update appointments. Google Docs were slower than running through molasses. I hoped everything would just “get better” on its own and we wouldn’t have to dare Google Support. We were getting several error messages in Gmail and so I bit my finger and painfully typed in a support request from Google Apps Premier:
Hi there —
For the past week or so we have noticed a massive responsiveness slowdown in Email, Calendar and Docs for all users of BolesUniversity.com.
I know other tech sites like TechCrunch have also noticed this slowdown:
It takes forever to refresh a Gmail page. It takes forever for a Calendar entry to update. It takes forever to open a new Doc.
My local connectivity is a cable modem with 25MB down and 5MB up — so I know this slowdown isn’t on my end because every other site on the internet — except our Google Apps — are lightning fast.
I also write technical books for a living, so I would never bother you unless this problem was verified, repeatable, and caustic:
The problem today is especially onerous — we can’t live with the speed decay of services any longer.
After I sent that email, Gmail basically blew up. I took screenshots of error messages and sent them to Google as well. We had a few more error messages over the arc of our day. About two hours later, Gmail became much more responsive as its old self — two hours later we were back in the tar pit abyss.
Today, we’re back to being super slow across all Google Apps services and we even changed our DNS to Google to see if that would make a difference in speed and connectivity. It did not.
At the end of the workday yesterday, Google Support responded with this laughable melange of fruitiness that no ordinary customer would ever want to troubleshoot alone. I told them I was on a Mac — and this response demonstrates the evil of blind, robotic, cutting and pasting as a generic response to a specific set of problems:
If you could provide me with the following information, I’ll request that they look into this as soon as possible. It’s a hefty list since multiple actions could be causing this slowness, but we’d appreciate it if you could provide us with as much information as you can so that we can look into this as thoroughly as possible. You’re welcome to respond via an alternate email address, if that’s more convenient at the moment.
– Is this issue reproducible in different web browsers?
– Does clearing cache and cookies in your browser resolve the issue?
– Is the issue reproducible in the HTTP version of Gmail, the HTTPS version, and the version without labs? To access these versions, please use the following links:
[internal URLs redacted]
– Please describe the slowness you are seeing in detail, being as specific as possible about the errors and hangups you’re receiving, as well as what actions you were performing at the time.
– Which Google services are affected?
– Is the issue consistent or intermittent?
– Please include screen shots of any other error messages you have received, aside from those you have already provided.
– Do you experience this issue on different networks?
– Are you using Norton security software? Does the issue get resolved when deactivating this software?
– Please collect ping and traceroute data:
1. Go to “Start” > “Programs” > “Accessories” > “cmd”
2. Type “tracert mail.google.com” (without the quotes) and hit Enter.
3. Next, type “ping -n 50 mail.google.com” (again, without the quotes) and hit Enter.
4. Include the output in your reply to this message.
If you could also go to the HttpWatch website and download that software to capture packet data when accessing your webmail, that would be very helpful.
1. Go to http://www.httpwatch.com.
2. Download and install HttpWatch, Version 6.
3. Open your browser and press Shift+F2 to bring up the HttpWatch window.
4. Press ‘Record’ and navigate to your Google Apps email.
5. Reproduce the issues with latency that you are experiencing in Google Apps email.
6. Press ‘Stop’.
7. Click ‘Save’ and save the log as an .hwl file.
8. Attach the resulting .hwl file to a reply to this email.
Lastly, please run a Wireshark capture while reproducing the issue. Here are the instructions:
1. Visit http://www.wireshark.org/ and click ‘Get Wireshark now.’
2. Save the setup file. Once the file has finished downloading, open the file to begin the setup wizard.
3. Follow the steps in the setup wizard to download Wireshark. Make sure to also install WinPcap when given the option.
After installing Wireshark, which will be used to send us some network information, please follow these steps to gather the information:
1. Close all web browsers and any other programs that generate network traffic (for example, IM programs).
2. Open Wireshark.
3. From the ‘Capture’ menu, select ‘Options.’
4. Under ‘Interface,’ select the network card you have.
5. Select ‘Start.’
Once the program has started running, please open your browser and visit
[internal URL redacted]
(please copy and paste this exact URL into your browser window) and log into your account. Once there, attempt to reproduce the latency issue and allow the program to run for three minutes. If the program is running successfully, you should see the numbers under ‘Captured Packets’ increasing.
Finally, click ‘Stop,’ then select ‘Save As’ from the ‘File.’ Please attach the file to your response.
Thanks for your assistance with this. I hope that we can get this slowness resolved for you as soon as possible. Please let me know if you have any further questions and I’d be happy to help.
Who has time to do any of that garbage tracking that, even if you dutifully do everything on that list, Google will always, in my experience, turn around and find a way to blame the slowdown on you, your machine, your setup, your browser, your location, the day of the week or some other imbecilic excuse that other companies would never dare to suggest to any serious user reporting a verifiable and repeatable problem.
I believe the reason Google spins you around like that is to make you go away. They don’t want to hear it. They want to drown you in their day, not yours, and they do that by sending you laundry lists of tasks for you to perform on their behalf.
I don’t believe Google doesn’t know they have a problem with the performance of Google Apps — they just don’t want to take the time and the expense to drill down to find out the why of it specifically for you — and so they bounce it all back on you, the humble end user, who, they hope, will tire of the game and just slink away to Live or Yahoo or Fastmail for their email needs.
Speaking of Microsoft and Yahoo, I noticed something interesting in the preparation of this article. Many blog posts across the 13 Blog strong Boles Blogs Network are missing from Google. We are not alone in that sad fact.
I knew I’d written an article a while ago about the trouble I’d had in the past with Google Apps Premier Technical Support, but when I searched Google, I couldn’t find a link. I knew I’d seen it there in the past. I publish 13 blogs and one of the wrecks of that deed is tending to forget exactly in which blog you posted an article. Using Google to help root out the remains of your memory is usually a Godsend. Not anymore. The Godhead is dead.
I checked my documents backup of the article I was trying to remember for hotlinking and found the exact title of the article: “Google Video Tech Support Trouble for Google Apps Premier” and when I then did a Google search for “Google Video Tech Support Trouble for Google Apps Premier david boles” — I was presented with the following non-advertising, search returns:
Isn’t that remarkable!
Not a single Google entry for that exact article title? I give Google total access to all my blogs and websites. I’m a big user of Google’s Webmaster Tools and Analytics. I’ve purchased advertising slots with Google. There is no want for access to my information that I don’t willingly provide Google — and yet Google won’t provide an accurate indexing of all my sites in return for my obedience to the empire?
I decided to head over to Bing.com and do that same search — “Google Video Tech Support Trouble for Google Apps Premier david boles” — and here are the cogent, clear, and 100% on-point search returns that I expected to get from Google:
I then tempted a Yahoo.com search and was presented with these precise, and superb search returns for the same search done on Google and Bing: “Google Video Tech Support Trouble for Google Apps Premier david boles”
There is no such thing as a coincidence — and I wonder if Google are, in some not-so-subtle-way, punishing my blogs by refusing to return them in a search result because of some perceived anti-Google angle — because no other reason makes as much sense. I haven’t bothered to link all my pro-Google articles in this post because there are too many to hunt down.
I quickly did a blog-by-blog comparison for all my network blogs to test search returns on Google and Bing and Yahoo and Bing and Yahoo averaged about a third more raw index article numbers than Google while also providing 100% better intuitive search returns based on specific queries.
Because of the results of my quantitative and qualitative search results testing, I have now made Bing my default search engine instead of Google in Firefox.
If any of the issues in this article ring familiar, or sound a bell, please share your thoughts and comments and wishes in the comments flow below. I’d love to know what’s really going on at Google and how to try to get them to properly index all my blogs again.
If you did a search and found this article — did you land here via Google or Bing or Yahoo or something else?