Hey Gmail, 1994 Called, It Wants Its Dial-Up Level Performance Back

Something is rotten in the state of Gmail. At least for some of us.

I thought it was maybe just me when I tweeted a couple days ago about awful Gmail performance recently. But it’s not just me. Dozens of people responded to me about that tweet. I tweeted about it again earlier today and dozens of other people responded. Some quick Twitter searches reveals many others noticing the same thing: sometime in the past couple of weeks, something has happened that has made Gmail almost unbearably slow.

It seems to be particularly bad when I first start up Gmail in the morning. Then it often gets better. Then it gets worse again. A number of people I’ve spoken with have noticed the exact same thing — including at least three of my colleagues here at TechCrunch. Opening an email can take upwards of 30 seconds to a minute. Sending one is even worse. And don’t dare try to do an email search when Gmail is acting up.

I emailed Google about the problem two days ago. I thought perhaps they were doing maintenance and this was a side effect — or perhaps it was related to the awesome Priority Inbox feature. But they told me they weren’t aware of any issue and would look into it. I haven’t heard back.

Others, meanwhile, are reporting that service seems to be working fine. But again, I’ve gotten too many responses from destinations all around the world to think this is isolated. At first I thought it might be just happening to people with massive inboxes (I’m over 10 GB now used), but I’ve spoken with a number of people who use a small amount of their storage and they’re seeing the same thing.

The most troubling thing is that Google doesn’t seem to know what is causing this. And it seem to be affecting both regular Gmail and Google Apps. That’s not good when they’re trying to do things like sue the government to get their software in the hands of federal employees.

I don’t think there’s any question that Gmail is the application I’ve used the most over the past five years. Sure, every once in a while there have been performance issues, but never like this. It really does remind me of the old days of email on 9600 baud modems. It’s getting to the point where I’m about to switch back to using a native client and pulling my main via IMAP.

Hell, at these speeds, I’m not even ruling out switching to a carrier pigeon.

UpdateGoogle Confirms Gmail Speed Issue, Says It’s Now Fixed