Thursday 12 December 2019

Browsers New Automatic Settings Slowing Site Loads Down

Blocking All Social Media Cookies and Trackers Seems To Be Slowing Down Chrome and FireFox

By Strictly-Software

I have had recent automatic updates for Firefox and Chrome to versions

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; Win64; x64; rv:71.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/71.0


Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/78.0.3904.108 Safari/537.36

How these two have got to versions nearing 80 so quickly is funny, when IE just rolls out a new version of it's browser every year or so not every time I try and open Firefox from my taskbar.

However these updates seem to contain some important settings, some may have been around for a while which I just haven't noticed. However it is the slowness of these browsers compared to Opera, that uses a proxy server in it's pretend VPN, so you are actually going through 2 servers to your site compared to the other browsers, that is doing my head in.

I liked Firefox, and Chrome when it first came out for their speed, and add-ons. However either my laptop is either deciding to slow down these 2 browsers for some reason and let Opera hop before loading a faster page or something else is going on.

My version of Opera with this "VPN" is:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/78.0.3904.108 Safari/537.36 OPR/65.0.3467.62

When I open it, it is faster than both Chrome and FireFox despite their VPN which when I check with a geo location website shows I have these details instead of my real ones:
  • Your Public IPv6 is: 2001:67c:2660:425:7::dfa
  • Your IPv4 is:
  • Location: Amsterdam, NH NL 
  • ISP: Hern Labs AB
I notice they have removed the word Opera and replaced it with OPR now, also nearing it's 70th edition. So not only does it protect my privacy a bit it is faster than Chrome and FireFox at the moment for me.

So today after upgrades to both Chrome (manual due to it's insane slowness) and an automatic update for FireFox that took almost 20 minutes, I noticed major slowdowns.

Chrome seems to always be showing a "resolving host" message in the status bar and loading in remote scripts from the big 3 spyware social networks, Twitter, Facebook and Google.

Of course site builders have put these outbound scripts into their code as they want people to Like, Follow and Tweet whatever crap they are selling and you may like seeing a Twitter scroller on the blog you are following and the ability to share the page to Facebook.

However I watched a video on the other night about how many #alttnews sites are moving their videos from YouTube to BitShute. YouTube is broken and Google is an evil company. And it seems they are indeed.

It is all about how these niche news outlets had created YouTube making it the biggest video sharing site online, and although the company claims they are only 1% of all videos watched they still feel the need to de-rank these alternative views and put "authoritative sources" above your searches in their algorithm tweaks. These tweaks were all admitted by a Google employee who described getting those Up Ticks and Likes as a "drug" that ensures people continue with their outpourings of every thing they do in life on Social Media.

Yes we do want to see where Jane is having lunch, who with, where the cafe is located and then everything else she does that day as we follow her goings about on Facebook and Instagram.Well you may want to but I don't. However to do so you need to load in Facebook scripts from their servers.

However it seems if you delve into the privacy and security settings for Firefox you get to see that their default setting is to stop tracking cookies from cross site and social media trackers which obviously means if you are loading a 3rd party script from another location you could see as I did today on one site the "trying to connect to" message appear dozens of times as the page tried to load. All the while the page was hung and unusable.

You can go into the FireFox settings and change your settings under Privacy and Security. The heading is...

Browser Privacy

Enhanced Tracking Protection

Trackers follow you around online to collect information about your browsing habits and interests. Firefox blocks many of these trackers and other malicious scripts.

The default setting will block Social media trackers, Cross-site tracking cookies, Tracking content in Private Windows and Cryptominers.

Obviously the latter few are definitely required but let me know if you have noticed a slow down with the standard setting that supposedly is "Balanced for protection and performance. Pages will load normally.", as they may load normally but they seem very slow to load, and off server scripts like Twitter and Facebook are attempted multiple times before a page is usable.

What happened to just loading the core code first to let the page be usable and load any off server scripts by Ajax in the background. It seems too many sites now use pure JavaScript and Ajax to load the content, probably to prevent content scraper BOTS however it does mean a lot of code has to run and be loaded before the page is usable. Have you had a look at the source HTML of lately?

Apart from some META tags after the HTML tag the whole source is JavaScript and probably Ajax to load in the content for what is really nothing more than a white page with a different image every now and then above a text input box for searching.

The links to your Google account and Gmail in the top right corner are just that links. We could shorten the load time and the code to a few lines of HTML in reality. I really think Google have gone overboard with their API Jizz all across their systems as their need to stop scrapers has just caused slow loading pages it seems.

Would you like all 3rd party scripts and cookies blocked, or would you like the site to work and load quickly? It seems a dilemma these browsers are making over complicated especially for non techies who wouldn't know half the words in Firefox's Privacy and Security settings.

The difference between Standard which says "Balanced for protection and security. Pages will load normally" and Strict which says "Stronger protection, but may cause some sites or content to break" seems to only be the addition of:
  • Tracking content in all windows - rather than standard mode which only blocks "Tracking content in Private Windows" and
  • Fingerprinters (blocking Browser finger printing, logging your add-ons, window size and other ways to identify you from just your browser)
They don't actually explain what a fingerprinter is, and to the average user they would be scratching their head thinking about their latest Samsung phone and the ability to login using your fingerprint. However these two extra blocks seem to be deadly for a working website as they state underneath :
Heads up! Blocking trackers could impact the functionality of some sites. Reload a page with trackers to load all content.
So god knows how someone is supposed to manage the 3rd option which is a custom way of blocking things you don't understand or know why they would break a site.

Of course they have a number of complicated Knowledge Base articles  for you to read and get your head round to try and understand whether they need to use Private Windows for browsing all the time, and why the prevention of loading certain features is going to stop your site loading.

Of course Firefox has a "simple way" to help you understand what is going on by just clicking on the shield in the address bar you can change the mode of protection on or off. 

You can view this site with "Enhanced Tracking Protection is OFF for this site" or ON and if you don't know what the difference is they have helpful little graphs that tell you about their Enhanced Tracking Protection, how many trackers they have blocked over the week and ways to look for data breaches. All very interesting but not very helpful information.

They helpfully clarify the situation by saying "Social networks place trackers on other websites to follow what you do, see, and watch online. This allows social media companies to learn more about you beyond what you share on your social media profiles."

Of course you could just disable 3rd party cookies and JavaScript by default with a web developer toolbar and see if the page loads or not. If it doesn't work turn on JavaScript and try again before white listing the site so it can use JavaScript again.

It seems that as Windows in numptifying the front end of their latest operating systems and making it harder for developers to dig in and get into the back end like Windows 8.1r which I still have - now without Skype support - the browsers are offering their users far too many options they probably don't understand or need to know about.

What I want from a browser is for websites to load quickly, any 3rd party hosted widgets like Facebook or Twitter widgets to load in asynchronously and not prevent the working of the site. I want the browser to do the dirty stuff behind the scenes and I don't want 100's of options to play about with. They should block dangerous content, warn users about dangerous sites and stop anything that may have a dangerous effect on my browsing or privacy.

Yes - Ask me if I want to load this soon to be outdated flash movie or allow notifications but don't give me too much to tweak about with.

The speed of loading a site is the most important factor for most users and also affects the sites SEO. If they want to give us an option for being as private as possible or allowing tracking cookies then just have a single option "Privacy HIGH or OFF" option, and then use their own browsing logic to work out if a page won't load instead of offering the user a whole list of options to try out if a page doesn't load.

What is wrong with just keeping incognito windows that are private as possible, don't allow trackers or fingerprinting and the logging of pages visited with a clear out of cookies automatically when I leave?

It just seems that as Chrome enters the laptop world with it's Chromebooks, that as Operating Systems continually ask for your admin password in Windows 10+ when opening an application. Hiding all the nitty gritty that really slows your PC down behind automated "maintenance jobs". That browsers are trying to become their own little PC within a PC.

Just give me fast loading pages and if I want to hide what I am doing from sites and other users of my laptop then make the incognito windows as private as possible. Stop trackers, fingerprinting, 3rd party cookies, and anything else you are now making a "choice" for the user under the settings.

It is bad enough that as everyone moves to HTTPS we see the TLS handshake message in the taskbar constantly which is obviously slowing down the loading of pages and their content, especially if it's mixed.

Just give me a fast browser. I thought using FireFox today would speed things up as Chrome is just getting unusable and as everyone realises they are actually evil, I don't want to help Google pass on my data from their browser or search engines and analytics trackers to advertisers and god knows who else.

From now on Opera with its extra server hop is going to be my standard browser. The "VPN" offers enough privacy and whilst some pages won't remember certain settings due to my location changing the browser is fast.

Anyone find their settings too complicated nowadays and the speed an issue?

By Strictly-Software

© 2019 Strictly-Software


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