Friday, August 24, 2012

Google Drive does not work if your network is slow


I solely use Google Docs, erm Drive, for working with documents these days. While it's named "Drive" now, I'll refer it as the old incarnation "Docs" as it's the document editor that I'm about to rant here.

Google Docs as an editor, is simple to use, and is very accessible - there is no need to install any specific software for it, all you need to do is to open it up through the web browser. But the best thing I like about it, is that I can edit the document without a care and not have to worry about saving the document somewhere so that I can resume editing elsewhere later. Everything is available as long as I have access to the Internet.

Now, that's all fine and dandy, except if you have a "slow" connection. And when I say "slow", I don't mean the archaic 56kbps speeds back in the heyday where people still dial-up a modem connected to a copper phone line. Slow in Google's context, apparently meant anything at mobile broadband speeds (@1mbps).

Google Docs had been working fine, prior to the fairly recently change they've introduced the "we'll save as you type" feature. The old Google Docs wasn't that bandwidth hungry since saving the document was in coarser time blocks instead of the consistent synching that they are doing now.

With the recent changes, Google Docs appear to either suck up more bandwidth, or have lower latency requirements that my humble mobile broadband dongle does not appear to satisfy anymore. For whatever I type in, after 2 minutes working into the document, Google Docs will just hang at "Saving..." and then produce this screen:



This error is consistently reproducible, and it's not even a complex document we're talking about here - it's essentially a text file editable by vim that I copy and paste into sometimes. I don't get how Google gets this so wrong - we're talking about a document editor for a simple file, for god's sake, what kind of network requirements do you need in order to make it work?!

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