Tony Gentilcore’s Beyond Gzipping presentation at Velocity 2009 (https://en.oreilly.com/velocity2009/public/schedule/detail/9072) identified that ~15% of Internet users receive uncompressed responses. This is mostly due to proxies or client security software stripping or mangling the Accept-Encoding header from the web browser.
RFC 2616 states:
If no Accept-Encoding field is present in a request, the server MAY
assume that the client will accept any content coding. In this case, if “identity” is one of the available content-codings, then the
server SHOULD use the “identity” content-coding, unless it has
additional information that a different content-coding is meaningful
to the client.
Google web search now tests these browsers’ ability to understand compressed content. If the test is successful, Google serves gzipped content. This has significantly lowered latency for users at the tail end of the latency distribution.
Andy Martone is a software engineer at Google. He works on the websearch infrastructure team, trying to make Google search even faster.
Andy holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from George Mason University.
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