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Are Google’s Services Running Slow in Chrome? Try Disabling Spdy

Update: After further testing, the issue seems to be with the NSS-SSL library, rather than SPDY, however the steps below will still likely resolve your speed issues.

Update #2: I am no longer having this issue. It appears to be some odd interplay between the NSS-SSL protocol in Chrome/Firefox and the Traffic shaper at my University, that has since been reconfigured. This means that it is now more important than ever that if you’re experiencing this issue, to report it to the Google Chrome team.

Are you trying to connect to your Gmail, and it seems to take forever to connect? What about Google Docs? Google Plus? All of the above? It might not be Chrome that is the problem, but actually Google’s SPDY protocol behind the scenes.

So what is SPDY? It is a protocol that Google uses, where it keeps a single persistent connection to Google for all of your Google Accounts information. This is utilized by a number of Google Services, including Gmail, Google Docs, and most recently Google Plus. When this is working properly, it allows Google to do what Google does best: Speeding up the web. However, when it fails, it will bring down your Google world, in a thunder of Loading icons.

It it Google Chrome?

The most important first step is it make sure that the problem is actually Google Chrome. To do this, try a different web browser, such as Internet Explorer if you’re on Windows, or Safari if you’re on a Mac.

If you tried a different web browser and the problem still happens, then it is likely due to a different problem, such as a slow internet connection. If however tried the same thing in a different web browser, and it worked fine, then it is probably Google Chrome.

Google knows about this issue (I know, because helped provide information for one of the bug reports), but so far they haven’t narrowed it down.

Collect a log

If you are finding that you have a problem like this, then it might be useful to provide some details to the Chrome team so that they can hopefully make it better.  At this stage, this is optional, but highly encouraged.  This will be your best bet at getting any Google Chrome issues resolved though in the long run.  If you are willing to collect a log, you can do so by following my tutorial How to collect a Network Log for Google Chrome.

The Fix

Disclaimer: This fix is only temporary, and your best bet is to comment on the open Google Chrome Issue for this phenomena.

The good news is that there is a solution you can use for the problem (although it is temporary, as I will cover after). This wasn’t discovered by me, but rather one of my colleagues (Christoph Treude). Essentially what you have to do is disable spdy and Chrome’s enhanced SSL, which can be done using the following steps:

Windows

  • Right click on the short-cut you’re using to start Chrome
  • Select Properties
  • Modify Target from
    • ...\chrome.exe"

      into

    • ...\chrome.exe" --use-spdy=off --use-system-ssl

      (note: the command line arguments have to go after the quotation marks)

  • Click Apply
  • Close all Chrome windows
  • Restart Chrome

Mac

  • Open the terminal (In your Applications -> Utilities folder)
  • Type into terminal to change to Chrome’s Directory using:
    cd /Applications/Google\ Chrome.app/Contents/MacOS
  • Rename Google Chrome to Chrome in the terminal:
    mv Google\ Chrome Chrome
  • Copy the following 3 lines for the contents of our execution script:
    #!/bin/sh
    # This will execute your Google Chrome with SPDY disabled, and set it to use your System SSL
    /Applications/Google\ Chrome.app/Contents/MacOS/Chrome --use-spdy=off --use-system-ssl
  • Type the following into the Terminal to make a file from what you just copied:
    pbpaste > Google\ Chrome
  • Type the following into the terminal to it so our new Google Chrome can run:
    chmod +x Google\ Chrome
  • Close Google Chrome using the Apple menu, or Command-Q:
  • Restart Google Chrome

If you had this problem and this solution worked for you, I would recommend you add your voice to the discussion on the bug, as during my last correspondence, they suggested that this might be a problem localized to my network (which it might, but I suspect it isn’t). This solution is only temporary, as if you end up creating a new shortcut somewhere, or you update Google Chrome, you will likely have to redo the fix, or the problem may come back.

Collect a Log (If you didn’t above)

If you found this solution worked for you, but you didn’t collect a log above, perhaps now would be a good time to do so.  However, first we will have to disable the fix above (as the problem will not exhibit itself while the fix is in place). Don’t worry, once you have your log, you can easily turn it back on using the steps above.

Disable fix on Windows

  • Right click on the short-cut you’re using to start Chrome
  • Select Properties
  • Modify Target from
    • ...\chrome.exe" --use-spdy=off --use-system-ssl

      into

    • ...\chrome.exe"
  • Click Apply
  • Close all Chrome windows
  • Restart Chrome

Disable Fix on Mac

  • Open the terminal (In your Applications -> Utilities folder)
  • Type into terminal to change to Chrome’s Directory using:
    cd /Applications/Google\ Chrome.app/Contents/MacOS
  • Rename Chrome back to Google Chrome in the terminal:
    mv Chrome Google\ Chrome
  • Close Google Chrome using the Apple menu, or Command-Q:
  • Restart Google Chrome

Collecting the Log on Both

So you’ve decided to help out? I’m glad, this will increase both of our chances at having this resolved.  As I mentioned above, you can collect your Network Log by by following my tutorial How to collect a Network Log for Google Chrome.

Submit to the Issue

If you found that this worked for you, you’re not alone, but unfortunately, as I mentioned above, this solution is only temporary, and you will likely need to redo it the next time you update Google Chrome, or change your shortcuts.  So perhaps now would be a good time to help Google Chrome find a long term solution.   There is already an open issue for Google Chrome about this phenomena, and you can easily submit your information to that issue.  If you need help doing so, let me know, but the Network Logs mentioned above would be highly beneficial to this process.

Could this be better?

So what do I think would be a better solution? For the most part, the average user doesn’t even know what Google Chrome is doing behind the scenes.

The solution above would work, but it isn’t exactly, user friendly. I suggested that in a case like this, perhaps after a few seconds of attempting to connect with SPDY (Google themselves have suggested that users spend less time at slow pages), and not getting any data (which Will Chan said was the case in my case), maybe it would be a good opportunity to say to the user that it’s failing to connect with one method, and to attempt connecting with another.

In this case, the system could try something like the solution above does, disable spdy and ssl, and try then. Sure it’s not a perfect solution, but unless you have to do something explicitly in Chrome (which few people do), this would probably stop you from Switching to an alternative browser.

42 comments

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  1. mausmi

    I am having this issue, but I’m running Mac OS and can’t figure out how to select “properties” (it’s not an option when right-clicking on Chrome or Chrome’s shortcut)

    1. Jamie Starke

      Hello Mausmi,

      I added a mac version to the page. I tried it on my Wife’s Mac to make sure that it works, but let me know if you have any problems.

      Remember, if it works, it is only temporary, and you’ll likely need to redo it then next time Chrome updates, so if it works, you should report that you had the same problem to the Chrome team (http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=69813)

      1. mausmi

        Yes, that works, thank you! I will report the problem to the Chrome team.

        1. Jamie Starke

          Your welcome, I’m glad it helped :)

        2. Jamie Starke

          I have put together a tutorial on how to collect your network log if you’d like to submit it to the Google Chrome team. http://www.jamiestarke.com/2011/09/08/how-to-collect-a-network-log-for-google-chrome/

  2. John Bäckstrand

    This does not seem to work for me. According to my net-internals my spdy is still enabled after I add –use-spdy=off

    1. Jamie Starke

      Hello John,

      It’s a little confusing, but spdy will still say its enabled, however, the last field, ‘next protocol’ will go from including spdy to not including it. When this happens, if it solves your gmail issue, you have the same bug I did. If not, then adding your issue to the bug (which I see you’ve done) is the right thing to do.

    2. Jamie Starke

      John: I have put together a tutorial on how to collect your network log if you’d like to submit it to the Google Chrome team. http://www.jamiestarke.com/2011/09/08/how-to-collect-a-network-log-for-google-chrome/

  3. Chris

    Directions for the Mac don’t work, I’ve tried in terminal and it won’t do anything, except terminal just says the name ie. chris macbook $

    1. Jamie Starke

      Hey Chris, I’m sorry to hear that. So when you click into the terminal and type, nothing happens?

  4. Vic

    FYI, this worked for me brilliantly on my PC.

    Thanks!!!

    Vic

    1. Jamie Starke

      Glad to hear it!

      Remember that this isn’t a permanent fix though, and you may have to do it again when Chrome upgrades.

      I think the Chrome team is still trying to get more logs to narrow down the root cause of the problem (http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=69813)

  5. Przemek

    Hi,

    This all started about two weeks ago for me. I was running Windows and using Chrome. I had to switch to IE because Chrome became unusable.

    About a week ago I got a MacBook and I noticed that Safari started suffering from a similar fate. Gmail eventually loads but it’s still slow. I have Chrome installed on my MacBook but I doubt that simply having Chrome installed has any affect on other browsers.

    This problem is only present at UVic. At home things load fine. I’m starting to suspect that it’s not just a spdy issue but something else as well.

    Thoughts?

    1. Jamie Starke

      I guess the question is, is it only Google services that are slow for you, or is it everything? Do you primarily connect by wired or wireless connection?

      After looking at my logs, Will from the Chrome team said it looks like something in our network causes Googles servers to behave oddly. In the lab I’m in, most people run chrome, and found that if we disabled spdy the problems would virtually disappear. I haven’t been there the last few days, so it’s possible that’s changed, but I’ll see what I can find out.

  6. Roberto Peon

    If you can (still) reproduce this, please do file a Chomium bug. I represent the server side (Will is my compatriot on the client side). We are always interested in ensuring that if anything is broken it isn’t our fault!

  7. Patrice Peyre

    You’re a star! Gmail’s performance (or rather lack of) on Chrome was driving me insane

  8. Ashley

    I’ve been having troubles with Youtube, Google video chat, & maps on my new computer in Chrome and it’s been making me nuts. Followed your easy steps and it totally fixed the problem! Thank you!

    1. Jamie Starke

      Glad to see this information is still useful. Thanks for your comment.

  9. William Oney

    Thank You!!! OMG. I’m in the Philippines so that makes it even harder to have a clue what is going on when I experience what feels not normal. Internet is inherently slow here, so if something seems slow it could just be my internet, but I knew something was up when IE was serving me Google services faster than Chrome… that just couldn’t be right… I wish I had searched for the right key words and found this earlier.

    Anyhow, I can’t thank you enough. I’m a web developer so I love to use Chrome for it’s dev tools but having to do all my searches in IE instead of Chrome was such a pain.

    Now my life is back to normal. Thank you, really, so much!

    Will

  10. Elizabeth Henry

    I find when I try to log on it is extremely slow and also I get notices that the pages are not responding.

    This is most frustrating. it just started approximately December 27th. I would appreciate any help
    you can give me.

    Thanks, Elizabeth Henry

    1. Jamie Starke

      Hello Elizabeth,

      That sounds very much like what I was experiencing when I found the solution in my article above. Have you tried the “The Fix” in my article?

  11. vit

    Hello, unfortunatelly it’s not working for me. Tried to capture the data but Wireshark says NPF driver is not running and I cannot get it runing at all (searched on google). FF or Opera do not have this problems. Thanks anyway.

  12. Koen Gabriels

    Hi, I had to put a switch in between my modem and my router today and noticed a lot of webpages just dont open or stop loading after a while when using Chrome.
    Before that I never had any issues with Chrome.
    This funnily enough also happend when I tried looking at this page so I opened it in IE and was able to read about the fix.
    I applied the fix, restarted Chrome and it works, thx for the fix :)

    1. Jamie Starke

      Glad to hear it helped. Odd that a switch would cause the issue though. What kind of switch and router are you using?

  13. Cid

    Well this worked for mi, win7 64bits, chrome

  14. Stephen

    This worked – thanks for the fix it was annoying the hell out of me. I hope the team at Google get this locked down.

    1. Jamie Starke

      Thanks Stephen – If you have a chance, file a bug, and attach a trace with it. The more information that they get, the sooner this will be fixed permanently.

  15. Ryan K.

    After hours of searching this is the only thing that worked. Why isn’t this issue more at the forefront in troubleshooting issues? Why hasn’t Google fixed this in the nearly 2 years since you posted this? And what exactly causes SPDY or the NSS-SSL library to get messed up in the first place? For me it just screwed up all of the sudden. What triggers it? Am I losing out on anything by disabling it?

    Anyways, I really appreciate you posting this solution. I will be sure and follow your steps to inform Google.

  16. Ryan

    This worked for me, but I used ‘-use-spdy=off -use-system-ssl’ (only one hyphen before each command-line flag). Has been frustrating us for weeks! Thanks!

  17. James

    Worked for me too. As with the guy in the Philippines, I’m in Vietnam and just assumed it was my ISP. I was experiences severe lag with all Google services on Google Chrome. All other devices on my network could call up google with little problems. So I tried this fix and everything is running smoothly now. I submit it to Google.

  18. richey

    i get “permission denied” when trying to execute the command mv Google\ Chrome Chrome”. Help?

  19. faospark

    and issue back then, still an issue today

  20. tina

    Changing it from two hyphens to one hyphen worked like a charm for me. I’ll be submitting a log. Completely ridiculous that a google made browser won’t open google made products.

    Thanks to all of you who figured all of this out!

  21. Joel

    Yup, this fixed it for me also. Was really frustrating. Great job!

  22. opornik

    Great tip! It fixed my Chrome slow connection. THANK YOU!

  23. Faye

    I have a Google chrome issue: SSL connection error unable to make a secure connection. This may be a problem with the server, or it may be requiring a client authentication certificate that you don’t have. Error code: ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR . I can’t access anything, Google, Gmail,send report, or anything that has to do with Google. I have Windows 7 home premium service pack 1.
    Google Chrome worked fine until yesterday 11/13 I got this error. I can access Google Chrome through Internet Explorer with no issues.
    I don’t want to keep using Internet Explorer…all my favorites and other info is on chrome.
    I tried importing my favorites to IE and it couldn’t find server.
    I need this issue fixed for me and others who are having the same problems.
    P.S.
    I have tried many suggestions and everything under the sun…except throwing it our the window.

  24. Mr.B

    when adding –use-spdy=off –use-system-ssl to the target ans attempting to apply, the system says that this name is not a valid name and to make sure to check target……blah blah blah.

  25. Mr.B

    @ Faye-

    yes, just like you I’m experiencing the same problem. I couldn’t even submit an error report to “Google”! Tells me that the web page at (page url) might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address. and then gives me various error codes – Error 337 (net::ERR_SPDY_PROTOCOL_ERROR) when trying to access my Google e-mail account. How is this going to get resolved when we (I) can’t even inform Google about the problem? Whoooosh, out the window may not be all that bad a solution!

  26. Chris

    This worked great for me.

    Oddly, the issue you link to has been closed as fixed (https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=69813) And yet, 2 years later, I still experienced the problem…

  27. Robert

    I’m from the Philippines, and this worked! I was looking here and there just to reach out to google but most of their forums are “restricted” to comment.

    Now, after turning this off and my gmail is now running smoothly, will I be missing out future updates because I’m disabling spdy in my area? (I’m starting to recommend this fix to my clients as well who uses gmail for communications)

    I hope the Chrome developers can get a fix on this, because on my tests, even google services (including search) is slow on chrome, funny thing is that Bing is running faster in chrome!

    Future versions should not be tweaked like this and should run as smooth and fast using default install values. It took me more than a year to realize this solution thru this website.

  28. Cristian

    Same issue at the University of Utah network…. the command line fix worked perfectly on my mac. I had opened a case with google (I use google for business) and they had closed it blaming the network…. which of course I can’t fix. I am glad I found this workaround! Thanks!

  29. John

    Hi,

    I’ve gone through the process on my Mavericks setup and it all works fine until I restart Chrome where it gets into an interminable loop of demanding keychain access.

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