It’s not you, it’s Google Chrome

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Jeff Neukom, Managing Editor

 

“Google is trying to connect.”

This is a message that Illinois Wesleyan University students and faculty have become all too familiar with. On Sept. 22, IWU’s Information Technology Services started to receive reports of Internet connectivity issues. For some users, working with Google Drive or accessing a Gmail account has proven difficult due to connectivity and timeout issues.

The issue is not caused by spotty Wi-Fi or a poor network connection, as students have had no problems accessing the Internet. Rather, the issue is directly connected to Google and its associated programs, Gmail and Drive, according to IWU’s Assistant Provost and Chief Technology Officer, Trey Short.

“The connectivity and timeout issues seem to be occurring for some, but not all, that use Google Chrome with Google Services.  Those that are using Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer, do not seem to be having problems accessing Google applications,” Short said. “Google is typically very responsive to service issues and I would expect the problem to be resolved promptly. At this time we recommend using a browser other than Chrome until service improves.”

Currently, IWU’s Information Technology Services crew is investigating to see if the issue is the result of an update to Chrome that is causing the connectivity issues. Short also said that Google may be having service issues, and that ITS began testing a possible fix for Chrome 9 Wednesday, Sept. 3 that could resolve the timeout and connectivity problem.

Until ITS or Google finds a permanent solution, IWU network administrator Sean Hunter said that there are a few things Chrome users can do:

“For any affected Chrome user, they should visit chrome://flags/#enable-quic and change the field from “default” to “disabled.” QUIC is an experimental protocol that Google invented to make their sites faster on the internet, which is great!” Hunter said. “The downside of QUIC is that it’s experimental. Sometimes things break.”

Or, users can switch over to a different search engine. Given that Google Chrome is a popular Internet browser among college students and faculty, this might not be the most feasible solution.

“I prefer the look of Chrome, on top of certain default features it has. Plus, you can get a lot of extensions for it that you can’t get with other browsers,” junior Rahul Shrikanth said.

Ideally, Google will fall back to standard protocols if connectivity issues arise, thus automatically disabling QUIC. But in this case, students may benefit from checking their own individual settings.

ITS will continue testing their proposed solution, and they will communicate their fix to the campus once testing is complete. Until then, other Internet programs such as Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari might perform better.