Friday, October 14, 2005

Firefox/Netscape Prefetching First Google Result

Just recently, Google instituted a new feature that only works with Mozilla-based browsers, i.e., Netscape or Firefox. When you bring up your first page of Google search results, Google will pre-fetch the web page for the first result and keep it in your cache. If you click on that search result, it should display more quickly. On the surface, this is a good idea, but it can cause some problems:
  • Web server statistics will not be accurate, as they will reflect pages that were pre-fetched, but not necessarily viewed by the user.
  • Your computer information (e.g., IP address, browser type) was sent to the pre-fetched site and placed in the server's logs even though you may not view the page.
  • If the site supports cookies, you may have cookies from that site even if you have not viewed the page.
Google has created an FAQ that provides more information on how they are implementing link pre-fetching. Mozilla has provided information on how to turn this functionality off. [from]

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