Google Optimized For Firefox

Via the GoogleBlog, Google is now optimized to work faster with Firefox and Mozilla by utilizing the prefetching mechanism included with those browsers. What is prefetching, you ask?

Link prefetching is a browser mechanism, which utilizes browser idle time to download or prefetch documents that the user might visit in the near future. A web page provides a set of prefetching hints to the browser, and after the browser is finished loading the page, it begins silently prefetching specified documents and stores them in its cache. When the user visits one of the prefetched documents, it can be served up quickly out of the browser’s cache.

Google makes use of this technology when you search. On some searches, Google tells your browser to start downloading the top result as soon as the results page is finished loading. If you happen to click on the top result, it is already preloaded in the browsers cache, and will load quicker.

The way that Google accomplishes the prefetching is by using a link element that Firefox and Mozilla support.

<link rel=”prefetch” href=””>

Apparently Google only uses this when it is most likely that the user will click on the first result. For instance, if you search for “Stanford”, the website for that university will be the first result, and probably the one you are most likely to click on.

Of course the drawback is that you could end up with files in your cache that you did not actually visit, so it would mean cleaning out your cache more often.

You can also disable the prefetch function in Firefox using the following commands:

  1. Type “about:config” the address bar.
  2. Scroll down to the setting “network.prefetch-next” and set the value to “False”.
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