Email Compression Exposed

Back to Email Compression Overview

Although our email compression performance is impressive, it's not voodoo magic. The email protocol is simply so bad (especially as implemented by Microsoft) that there is plenty of opportunity to speed it up.

Those of you who want to get technical about how it works read on. The rest of you can take it for granted that a 10x speed-up is possible in practice, and return to the Email Compression page

How it works

  1. Compression
  2. Full Duplex
  3. Reduce the line turnarounds
  4. Large Attachment and HTML removal

1. Compression

We use a top of the range compression library to shrink your the amount of data sent by around 3:1 (depending exactly on what you send)

Photos are usually pre-compressed, however, we can still reduce download size by around 33% due to the (terrible) way email attachments are encoded.

2. Full Duplex

Most email programs "Send" and then wait and then "Receive". Our software makes use of the otherwise wasted time while sending out mail to get on with downloading anything waiting.

If you typically send out around the same number of messages that you receive this can save you up to 50% of your online time

3. Reduce the line turnarounds

Satellite and mobile phones have quite a large lag sending between sending something and receiving an answer (actually, for a computer the mobile phone is sometimes worse than the satellite phone.

So assuming a delay of around a second between asking for some data and the other end sending it back, and given that it takes 2-4 separate commands to send or receive an email, then you are waiting 2-4 seconds for each email. Big deal...

But send and receive 10 emails and you are now wasting 20-40 seconds just *waiting* for the other end to hear you...

So the trick is to rewrite the protocol and send ALL the commands in one batch right at the beginning.

4. Remove HTML and large attachments

Most email programs these days use HTML to encode what you write (they do it in the background, you might not even realise it's happening). The problem is that the HTML formatting makes the email about 5x larger than normal plain text! Also the message is actually repeated twice, once in HTML format and once in normal plain text.

Your email program hides all this nonesense from you when you read the email, but you are still spending around 5x longer than necessary to download your message

All this is fine if you really want to receive emails with fancy text formatting (which you occasionally do), but for the rest of the time it's worth stripping out the HTML for a huge speedup in downloading speed.

Likewise few people look at the size of an attachment before sending it, and it's all too easy to become locked out of your email box if the message is just too large to download in reasonable time. So we have a configurable attachment size blocker which removes large attachments from messages

However, sometimes you want to have a peek inside the attachment, for example if an invoice or form. So for attachments which can be converted to plain text, such as MS Word, Adobe PDF and HTML documents, we extract the text out of the document and put that into the message. This allows you to read the contents of the file (with pretty reasonable formatting preserved from the original), but in a fraction of the normal download time.

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